Parents call for Niles McKinley coach’s ouster

By Jordan Cohen

Another coach’s wife vowed a recall petition if parents aren’t satisfied with the board’s response.

NILES — Angry parents demanded the resignation of high school head football coach Brad Yeager at Thursday’s board of education meeting and called for an “outside investigation” of his treatment of players.

Tammy Baker, wife of seventh-grade head coach Lonnie Baker, told the board that if the parents aren’t satisfied with the response, “we will be gathering signatures for a recall if necessary.”

Tammy Baker’s son had been a quarterback for the Niles McKinley varsity team, and she alleged he was mistreated by Yeager and rarely was allowed to play.

In a prepared statement, Baker presented a list of allegations including “physical threats of violence against players after a game” and violations of the teacher code of conduct. She did not mention Yeager’s name during her comments to the board but acknowledged after the meeting her complaints were directed at the coach.

Yeager has completed his second season as head football coach after being hired in January 2008. He posted season records of 2-8 and 4-6. He also is a ninth-grade science teacher.

Baker’s husband, who also addressed the board, claimed that Yeager demanded his resignation earlier in the season over statements Yeager alleged Lonnie Baker made.

“He did not hear my side of the story,” Lonnie Baker said.

He refused to resign and is still seventh-grade coach.

“You’ve got teachers walking these halls telling these kids [they’re terrible] when they lose a game,” Baker said. “It’s not about winning games. It’s about teaching kids life.”

Another parent told the board that had Baker resigned during the sixth week of the seventh-grade season, “there would not have been a week seven.”

Neither Superintendent Rocco Adduci nor members of the board responded after the parents spoke. After the meeting, Adduci declined to comment.

Tammy Baker said she was particularly upset over what she called Yeager’s “mistreatment” of her son. After the meeting, she denied that the issue involved her son’s lack of playing time.

“This is about demoralizing a child and defamation of his character,” she said. “We’ve had 12 seniors walk off the field three times because of the way they were treated.”

Yeager did not attend the board meeting and could not be reached to comment.

The Bakers demanded that the board provide a copy of the policy on work-force violence “within 10 days.” Board President Marlene Rhodes said the material has been available on the school district’s Web site for several years.

About 40 people attended Thursday’s board meeting, well above the usual turnout.

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