Over the past several weeks, Valdosta again is in the news (at least locally) for more drama. This time it’s the decision not to renew the contract of Valdosta High Football Coach Alan Rodemaker. To be clear, I am neither a close friend of the coach nor do I dislike him. I have also been an outspoken critic of the priorities of both the city and county school boards when it comes to funding as there always seems to be more of an emphasis on football versus academics. In either case, I think the best way to end the controversy is to review the evidence:
· Was Mr. Rodemaker a successful coach? Yes. During his tenure over the last four years, the coach has led the team to a state championship and/or the playoffs each year.
· Was there any negative findings in his performance evaluations? No. The local newspaper obtained his performance evaluations and there was nothing to reflect any issues at the coach or academic level.
· Was there another issue in his performance which the board does not want to discuss? If you review his performance evaluations, the answer would be no. Management 101 states “if it’s not written down, then it didn’t happen”. Clearly when I was Chief of Police and a supervisor in other management levels at two police departments and in the military, I had subordinates that didn’t like me. Some of those dislikes may have been deserved and many were not. In either case, that’s just part of being a leader and you just don’t dismiss people who you may not like.
· Did the school principal (who happens to be African American – if that matters) recommend him for another contract? Yes
· Did the school superintendent (who happens to be African American – if that matters) recommend him for another contract? Yes
· Was Rodemaker good for the students? Yes on three levels:
1. He obtained a grant to help feed many of the students who normally may not have gotten enough nourishment at home
2. Many of the teachers have stated when a football player was “slacking” on their grades, all they had to do was call Coach Rodemaker. After that, the student players behavior improved and so did their grades
3. Most of the faculty and students admired and loved the man
· Did the school board have a right not to renew his contract from a legal standpoint? Yes. The fact is the school board can decide not to renew someone so long as they are not doing so because of a protective class. But like many former supervisors of mine to include a very respected City Manager and Police Chief told me, “just because you have a right to do something doesn’t mean you should”.
So looking at all the facts, one can develop any opinion they want. I choose to look at facts and evidence and there is nothing to support letting this man go. Fair is fair and this was clearly not fair.
Brian K. Childress
Retired Police Chief and Valdosta resident