Suspended over a player's allegations of crude comments regarding the player’s sexual orientation, the coach of the baseball team resigned last spring and denied all of the charges, school district records show.
Sherman Leach was put on leave with pay when the player and his parent made the allegations in April, and he resigned May 1 after criticizing the Lake Washington School District's investigation.
The district released documents in the case Monday after a public records request by Kirkland Patch. Spokeswoman Kathryn Reith said Leach’s resignation closed the case, and that the district planned no punishment or any other action against Leach.
“There was no formal investigation report,” she said.
There were no allegations of any physical wrongdoing. According to the records, the parent complained to school officials that Leach had called his son “gay” after the player wore earrings to practice, and made crude references after the player had injured his hand about how the injury had occurred. The parent also said Leach had kicked the player off the team after the injury.
Leach denied it, and countered that the player himself was known to regularly make explicit references to sexual orientation. He also said he had simply asked the player for his jersey so a replacement could wear it while the player recovered.
In his resignation letter, Leach accused district officials of conducting the investigation in an accusatory fashion when the matter could have been resolved promptly if officials had simply questioned more team members.
Contacted by Kirkland Patch, Leach declined to make any statements beyond his resignation letter, but added: “I feel sad for all of the coaches, players and families in the program, after all the work that many of them put in during their off season working out, fundraising, and getting ready for what should have been a successful season.”
Leach was replaced for the remainder of the season by assistant coach Troy Garcia. The Rebels baseball team finished the season with a 4-14 overall win-loss record.
The district suspended two other Kirkland high school coaches last school year, and neither of them will return for the 2012-13 school year. For stories on the other two cases, click and .
Spokeswoman Reith said suspensions of coaches are always difficult issues for district officials to deal with, but protecting students has to be the top priority. “We’ve got to take (allegations) seriously. It can be a fine line. In some cases we end up with coaches being hurt that maybe should not have been,” she said, referring to no specific case.