Dismissal impacts hiring practices at RWHSWhen asked what it takes to become an assistant coach, Red Wing athletic director Matt Schultz joked that all you need is a breath.
By: Ryan Nilsson, Red Wing Republican-Eagle, Worthington Daily Globe
When asked what it takes to become an assistant coach, Red Wing athletic director Matt Schultz joked that all you need is a breath.
There’s an element of truth to Schultz’s joke.
If interested individuals pass a criminal background check, they are eligible. The district does not require a coaching license or certification. Potential assistants need not have played the sport they wish to coach.
In other words, if Megan Seidl had said she competed as an underclassmen at Eden Prairie High School and used to be the coach at Port Angeles, Wash., High School she probably would still be working for the Red Wing School District. Instead, she misrepresented herself and her qualifications.
Prior to Megan Seidl’s dismissal Wednesday as an assistant gymnastics coach, the athletic department did not collect resumes, call references or verify past employment.
That will change, Supt. Stan Slessor said. He learned from Republican Eagle staff members Jan. 23 that the newspaper could not verify Seidl’s background beyond the fact she coached in Port Angeles, Wash. She also claimed to be an international-caliber gymnast and to have done post-graduate work in art therapy.
“We’ll continue, obviously, to do the background checks as required, and that part is good,” Slessor said. “My personal feeling would be that we will do more in the way of resumes, calling people whose names appear on those resumes to verify everything that would be on that sheet.”
First-year athletic director Schultz also was at the Jan. 23 meeting. He said this week he's noncommittal about a more thorough review of assistant coach candidates.
“With the amount of time that it (the Seidl situation) seems to be taking away from other duties of my job … maybe. Maybe I’ll look into it a little bit more,” he said.
When an assistant coach needs to be hired, the school district posts the job internally for two weeks. If a qualified candidate does not come forward, the position is advertised in area newspapers and online education job boards, according to Schultz.
Even after the job is posted externally it’s common for no one to express interest, especially at a school outside the Twin Cities in a sport like gymnastics.
"It takes highly specialized people,” Red Wing gymnastics coach Beth Mayer said in a Dec. 17, 2008, interview. She added: “There are not as many people trained in it because of the high risk of the sport."
With those limitations in mind, Schultz — like athletic director Don Featherstone before him — relies on head coaches to find assistant coaches.
"If there’s zero applications for a job, the head coach is the one that’s in that world to find those people that have those skills,” Schultz said,
Another advantage to coaches hiring their assistants is to help ensure the staff will work well together, Schultz and Slessor said.
“There’s no doubt, as I talk with Don, too, that many times we rely on the head coach" to vet potential assistant coaches he or she recommended, Slessor said.
“I did what research I needed to do to know that she could provide services for our team and checked with some people in gymnastics,” Mayer said. She declined to elaborate during a Feb. 1 interview.
Seidl was dismissed Feb. 4, and Mayer did not return messages Monday.
The criminal background check is intended to serve as a safety net. Schultz indicated that Seidl's criminal background was clear.
In the era of identity theft and privacy concerns, the $12 criminal background check — which prospective district staff pay for themselves — doesn't necessarily verify name, academic qualifications or work experience. The school district has Minneapolis-based Orange Tree Employment Screening conduct the criminal background checks.
“Records can be stored under first, last name. They can be stored under Social Security number," said Mike Hovorka, Orange Tree's director of research and compliance. He explained that most clients have removed the Social Security number for background checks for privacy reasons.
“As a general role of thumb, and this would be for almost any background screening company, background searches are done based on last name, first name,” Hovorka said.
In Megan Seidl's case, its not known what maiden name, if any, she listed on the background investigation authorization form two years ago when she was hired. The school district and Orange Tree declined to provide that information.
Seidl told the R-E her maiden name was Lauer. Evidence suggests, however, she was Megan Lauser. The Republican Eagle ran a criminal and residential background check for Megan Lauser, and it came up clear.