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Hillsboro School District cites 'employee-employer relationships' in decisions to fire McMenomy, Eastman

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - Century's Sean McMenomy was dismissed as head football coach after two seasons.Two of Hillsboro's high schools are moving in a different direction after firing their head football and softball coaches.

Century High School fired its head football coach, Sean McMenomy, a little more than a month ago, and this past week officials at Glencoe High School dismissed head softball coach Jason Eastman.

Eastman, who just finished his fourth season at Glencoe, was terminated on the heels of his third consecutive league championship, along with a trip to the state quarterfinals, where his team lost 4-2 to eventual state champion Sheldon.

The longtime youth and varsity coach accrued a 93-26 record while at Glencoe, which included two trips to the state quarterfinals and a trip to the state championship in the 2015-16 season. In that time, he helped produce two State Players of the Year, four League Players of the Year, 11 all-state honorees and countless all-leaguers.

McMenomy, who came to Century two years ago from North Carolina, finished with a combined record of 4-14, going 1-10 in his first season while improving to 3-8 last year and finishing in a tie for fourth place in the Pacific Conference.

Prior to his single season in the Tar Heel State, McMenomy spent four years at Minneapolis Southwest High School, followed by a seven-year stint at DeLaSalle High School in Minnesota, where racked up six conference championships and five section championships. He was selected as the Conference and/or Section Coach of the Year a combined 11 times.

An outpouring of support from parents and players has followed in the wake of both coaches' dismissals. Two separate online petitions have called for the coaches to be reinstated and school administrators held responsible. The petitions have received hundreds of signatures by parents, current and former players and concerned community members familiar with both Eastman's and McMenomy's contributions to the program.

Century and Glencoe administrators have declined to comment about the terminations, but Hillsboro School District spokeswoman Beth Graser pointed toward personality conflicts as a key component in the decisions to fire them — while acknowledging the vital role coaches play in children's lives.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - Glencoe head softball coach Jason Eastman was let go last week despite winning at least a share of three consecutive league titles."As a multi-sport athlete myself back in the day, I certainly understand and can attest to the unique and special relationship that exists between coaches and athletes, as well as with families and community members," Graser said in a written statement. "The camaraderie they help cultivate, skills they develop, and achievement they expect both on the field and in the classroom are definitely to be commended. Ultimately, however, there are employer-employee relationships at play, just like those that exist at any other organization, and sometimes there are reasons why those relationships are no longer tenable."

Graser added that school officials are not able to discuss the matter in detail, but said both coaches were told the reason behind their "non-renewals" and that they were free to discuss the matter, if so inclined.

"Just as a private company like Intel or Nike would not announce publicly why they parted ways with a particular employee, we cannot do that either," Graser said. "Coaching positions are at-will, one-year agreements."

While Eastman declined to discuss the matter, McMenomy said his dismissal will negatively impact the students.

"While this change, and the subsequent impact of the decision, has negatively affected my family and reputation, particularly due to the vague language used to make the announcement, my wish is that the decision had been rolled out in a way that was more sensitive and supportive to student-athletes," McMenomy said. "The bottom line is what our family commits to the school, student-athletes and community cannot be effectively implemented without administrative support."

Century has hired a new coach, McMenomy's former assistant Danny Kernan, to head the football program. McMenomy is confident that his former underling will continue where the team left off.

"We hope that what we started — in the way of community engagement and increased visibility for prospective student-athletes to build something amazing — remains with the new coach," McMenomy said. "He is a remarkable young man, whom we consider family. And who better to lead than one who knows how to be a part of the 'football family?' We are eternally grateful to our parents and the people of the community."

McMenomy said the issues boiled down to a difference of opinion over how the program should be run.

"(My wife) and I, along with my amazing coaching staff and parents, recognize and respect that there is a difference in vision for Century's football program," he said.

Graser seemed to appreciate the frustration of both coaches' supporters, but hoped they'd understand the decision, despite a difference of opinion.

"I definitely empathize with the past and present athletes and their families who feel frustrated and blindsided by the non-renewals," she said. "I hope the information I shared ... brings a bit of understanding to, if not agreement with, the situation."

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