Zeman’s departure — 4/21/2010

April 21, 2010:

Above there is a post that asks if personal motives were at play in the departure of Otto Zeman. I know of zero evidence on which to even pose the question.

Most importantly, none of us were in the Board deliberations on this. None of us know what was presented or discussed in that forum. Presumably it was substantive. The Board members are under particular strictures on personnel matters. As we read the Landmark and the Suburban Life, it is clear that those strictures are being interpreted differently by different Board members. But, in general, reasons for not renewing a contract are not going to be published.

As one who is dedicated to comprehensive reform at RB (discussed up this thread), I have been watching the Otto Zeman conversation play out. I have personally encountered many events which could have served as the basis for the Board decision.

For instance, to review the presentation made to the Board last August by the Parents’ Committee is to see a laundry list of very serious judgment and practice issues.

Above on this thread I have referred to Mr. Zeman’s three to four year adamant refusal, despite global warnings about the very threat, to anchor the soccer goals properly. That was not an idle dispute — Dr. Bonnette overruled him in a matter of days and the soccer goals have been properly stowed ever since, proving Mr. Zeman was wrong all along. Every parent should ask himself what explains that behavior.

Allowing a bonded-out indictee for possession of marijuana with intent to deliver to become a volunteer wrestling coach in the fall of 2008 would by itself alone in most districts be enough to walk somone off the property. Specifically, Mr. Zeman failed to follow District 208 board policy, IHSA regulations for member schools, and (some argue) Illinois code. If he is in charge of the Athletic Department, then that authority comes with accountability for what happens in the Athletic Department. As a strict anti-drug person I certainly think Mr. Zeman should have been relieved of his position when this came to light approximately ten months ago.

Mr. Zeman produced in part with District resources a video that describes an offensive football strategy that he has practiced or still practices. The video sells on the internet for a price, from which he has derived income. The District never authorized his use of its resources for the video, and it benefits in no way from his royalties. He apparently never sought or received clearances or appearance waivers from from any of the RBHS students who appear in his profit-making video.

Mr. Zeman acts as faculty sponsor for the RB Booster Club, of which I am a member. The club has traditionally had lax accounting — if any — and was prodded late last year into adopting corporate formalities to show cash-in / cash-out, IRS filings, balances and official not-for-profit status. Whether the club has yet achieved insurability for its many wonderful volunteer hospitality and support activities I do not know, but under Mr. Zeman years went by in which RB Boosters could have been a model of transparency and accountability, but instead was a gaping potential liability for the taxpayers.

What I know about coaching football fits in the smallest thimble that is sold at Target. I have never met Otto Zeman. My son is an RBHS athlete. I am very proud of his accomplishments in RB’s Athletic Department. I have no objection to the quality of coaching he has received and, as far as I know, Mr. Zeman has never in any way attempted to extract revenge on my son for my criticisms of the Herbst Regime.

Some parents think Otto Zeman helped their child. The vast majority I have met say he is inveterately crass, rude, profane, boorish, dismissive and bent on serving parent members of an insider clique regardless of the student talent that shows up on the field. I do not know about that, and in fact I never will know about that, but one hears it constantly, with heartbraking specificity and frequently with tears for the child’s lost opportunities.

I do know we deserve an Athletic Director who does not allow bonded-out indictees to come in contact with our kids, who puts child safety first, who respects district property, resources and most of all kids, and who who leads by example in transparency and accountability.

Above I have posited the “Good Bulldog” theory, by which local pride trumps institutional concerns, such as those listed above (and many, many more). Being a Good Bulldog means you step around the poop left in the path by the Bulldog ahead — act like it isn’t there at all — and keep pulling the RB sled. Really Good Bulldogs go a step farther and attack the people who notice the dog poop and who say, “Hey, that is not supposed to be here.” There has been a lot of that in the week since Mr. Zeman’s departure was announced.

I am not a Good Bulldog. I am an Uppity Bulldog — and I think most Uppity Bulldogs came to peace with Mr. Zeman’s departure years ago.

What was said in the councils of the Board and Dr. Bonnette? I have no idea. One suspects that the budget issue is looming very large for the Board. It announced several weeks ago that re-employed teachers would be separated, so I was not surprised it applied that policy to Mr. Zeman and others. For all I know, that is all the Board considered. But, as one who could not have a personal feeling against the man, I appreciate its decision, I salute each of the four members who voted as they did, and I look forward to our opportunity to start anew in RB’s athletic department.

POSTED WEDNESDAY APR 21, 2010 13:47 #
Explore posts in the same categories: Riverside Brookfield High School -- Athletics

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