The Dolores School Board on Thursday was scheduled to consider the resignation of athletic director and football coach Chris Trusler, who has drawn mounting criticism from parents and residents since September.
The board also was expected to consider the resignation of special education teacher Patrick Priest, according to the board’s agenda. The agenda for the April 12 RE-4A school board meeting listed the resignation of both employees under the heading “Personnel.”
The meeting was held after The Journal’s press deadlines on Thursday.
The Journal first reported complaints against Trusler during a school board meeting on Sept. 14 in which parents and grandparents accused him of bullying and name-calling.
At the board meeting, about six parents and grandparents complained about Trusler’s behavior during a Sept. 8 football game at Dolores High School. Parents said he had called players offensive names and asked one boy to keep playing after he was injured. Some parents said they had raised their concerns with Superintendent Scott Cooper and other school staff, but sufficient action was not taken. Trusler was absent from the sidelines during the subsequent football game, but Cooper refused to comment about whether he had been suspended.
Parents and residents also complained about Trusler and district administrators during a crowded board meeting on March 8 in which school discipline was discussed.
Amy Lewis, a substitute teacher who is circulating a petition to recall RE-4A School Board President Dee Prock and board member Vangi McCoy, referred to the athletic director as the “biggest bully in school,” without mentioning Trusler’s name. Many members of the crowd responded with cheers and applause.
Trusler’s behavior again was discussed on April 4 at a special meeting to discuss a proposed discipline policy. Many parents said the “behavior response framework” – drafted by Secondary School Principal Jen Hufman – did not go far enough to address the district’s problems.
Parents continued to blame disciplinary problems primarily on the school board and Trusler, who did not attend the meeting. Several parents, coaches and students repeated accusations that Trusler bullied students, failed to follow Colorado High School Activities Association rules, and threatened to punish athletes for reporting problems in the athletic department.
During a policy meeting before the discipline workshop on April 4, district Secretary Laurie Arnett noted that the athletic department has inconsistently conducted background checks. Some employees apparently were hired before results came in, she said, and some results were not recorded properly. She asked for direction on how to handle a positive return on a background check.
At the policy meeting and the public workshop, board members said they couldn’t talk publicly about personnel issues related to Trusler or any other employee.
The Journal’s phone calls and emails to Trusler, Cooper and Hufman on Tuesday have not been returned.
The Dolores School Board’s regularly scheduled board meeting was scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday at 100 N. 6th St.