UPDATE: Independence coach reconsiders bullying resignation - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UPDATE: Independence coach reconsiders bullying resignation

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An eastern Iowa school district plagued by accusation of parents bullying the high school's coaches is saying the situation isn't as dire as some have made it out to be.

The Independence Community School District sent out a press release Wednesday "to clarify the fact surrounding the alleged resignation" of their coaches Monday.

The district said that head girls basketball coach Rod Conrad had indeed submitted his resignation to activities director Rob Arnold detailing his "frustration with a few parents creating issues for the coaching staff," but that Conrad was now reconsidering his decision to resign.

The district quoted Conrad as saying "the administration is already taking action to further tighten up and improve the parent-coach protocol in our district" and that Conrad was "amazed at the amount of community support and encouragement" he's received since the news broke.

The district, however, noted that Conrad had not officially withdrawn his resignation and that he would make a decision "by the middle of next week."

The district also noted that assistant coach Rob Ratchford had previously submitted his resignation to "pursue other interests." However, Ratchford told KWWL on Monday that his resignation was due to abuse from parents of the girls he coached.

The school district noted that the other three assistant coaches -- Jessica Weber, Kris Gruber and Alex Jipson -- had not resigned their positions, refuting an erroneous report from another news outlet.

In the release, Board President Brian Eddy said he was proud of the district's coaches and didn't think there was a widespread bullying problem.

"I'd be hard pressed to find any school district in the nation where a few parents don't express complaints about playing time or have an issue with a coach now and then," Eddy said. "That being said, any school district can continue to fine tune and tighten its policies to better itself. That's exactly what our school board and administration will continue to do."



At least two of the girls basketball coaches at Independence Junior/Senior High say bullying by parents forced their resignation Monday.

Rob Ratchford, former assistant head coach for the team, said the abuse from parents got to be too much.

"There were threats made, you know, about wanting to fight and stuff like that," Ratchford said.

But he said it wasn't just the harassing phone calls he received.

"(Parents) were complaining about kids and their playing time and decisions we were making on the court," Ratchford said. "That kind of stuff needs to be left to the coaches, not the parents."

Ratchford said as of Monday night, both he and head coach Rod Conrad had resigned.

He said reports that the other three members of the coaching staff have already resigned are incorrect.

School officials say they can't comment on personnel issues.

Ratchford also said he's worried the girls might suffer.

"We're there to teach the kids," he said. "The parents need to step back and realize what the kids are actually gaining out of having a great coach in Independence."

Ratchford said despite all this, he's happy with how the school handled the situation.

School officials told KWWL on Monday that they have not formally accepted Conrad's resignation.

Amie Steffeneicher contributed to this report.

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