Danville school board chair answers questions about decision to end Clevenger’s football contract

Published 6:16 am Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Members of the Danville Board of Education “had no clue” that the head football coach’s contract was not going to be renewed last Friday.

On Monday, board chair Steve Becker said, “We didn’t know this was going to happen.” But they, along with other coaches, teachers and stakeholders in the district were sent an email explaining that coach Clay Clevenger’s head football coaching contract was not going to be renewed at the end of June, he explained.

Becker said the only hiring and firing responsibility the board has is for the positions of school superintendent and school district attorney.

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Becker said board members have been receiving numerous phone calls, text messages, and emails about Clevenger’s firing.

However, state law dictates that school boards, “truly have no say in any personnel hiring or firing.” Becker explained. “And the superintendent has no obligation to say, ‘This is what I’m going to do.’”

When asked why Clevenger’s contract was not renewed, Superintendent Dr. Tammy McDonald stated in an email, “I am unable to comment on personnel issues.”

According to the Kentucky School Boards Association website, “School board members have a very limited role in personnel matters. … School boards are prohibited from influencing who is hired, transferred, non-renewed, etc. An attempt by a board member to influence the hiring of any school employee can lead to disqualification from the school board…. They also should not limit or attempt to limit the superintendent’s discretion in personnel matters.”

The website states, “A superintendent is responsible for all personnel acts within the district. This includes the hiring, promotions, transfers, assignments, reinstatements, suspensions and dismissals of district employees.”

KSBA goes on to say, “The superintendent is required to report personnel action to the school board.” The school board can make very specific inquires into personnel matters only for the purpose of evaluating the superintendent’s performance, according to the website.

Clevenger is a special education teacher who is Kentucky certified tenured. His teaching job “is not, and was never in jeopardy,” Becker said. But every extra-curricular coaching position, whether it’s for athletics, drama, or forensics, is a year-to-year contract. There is no guarantee that anyone will be rehired from year to year.

Becker said Clevenger’s football contract will end June 30. Until then, his salary and coaching stipend will continue.

Announcing McDonald’s decision this early will “give him time to make decisions and gives the high school time to rehire a coach,” Becker said.

He added, “Coaching is always tied to teaching positions 99% of the time.”

Becker said, “We do not have the freedom to say to the public, ‘This is not true,’” in response to some of the comments being made about the firing.

“We do not have that luxury.”

Becker added, “We have nothing to do with this. It’s a horrible situation.”