Board OKs new contract for coach Dave Hall
Opposed board member absent for vote
By Andrew Atkins and Katie Pach
At the Perrysburg Board of Education meeting Saturday, PHS baseball coach Dave Hall was reinstated after a 2-1-1 vote Feb. 17 failed to renew his contract. At the previous meeting, with only four members of the board present, board member Cal Smith voiced his concerns about coach Hall’s practices.
Mr. Smith claimed that coach Hall employed practices of overusing players and discriminating against Catholic players, concerns he has brought up before. Kaleb Mahler and Austin Mezinger, both Catholic players on coach Hall’s team, stated that they felt no prejudice. Mezinger said “coach [Hall] leaves all politics and religion off the field.”
According to Superintendent Tom Hosler, Mr. Smith’s complaints have been investigated in the past, never with any corroborating evidence. This was the third time Mr. Smith has brought up these allegations.
At the Feb. 17 meeting, Mr. Smith also brought up former students by name, which outraged several parents.
Parent Paul Vrzal asked the board if they tried to stop Smith during his disquisition while bringing up names without consent from the students and parents. Dr. Walter Edinger, a board member, answered “reluctantly, no.”
eSomethin staffers tried to contact Mr. Smith multiple times for comment, but he offered no response.
Melissa Dimmerling, mother of Perrysburg senior Gus Dimmerling, called for his “immediate resignation” for his breach in protocol.
Senior board member Gretchen Downs, who was out of town last week during the original meeting, was unable to vote on the matter of renewing coach Hall’s contract.
Board President Jarman Davis and Vice President Dr. Edinger both voted in favor of coach Hall. Mr. Smith voted against it, and board member Sue Larimer abstained. The board, needing a minimum of three votes to approve a decision, was then unable to approve coach Hall’s contract renewal.
Because of the way Mr. Smith went about voicing his opinions and concerns — in what Mrs. Downs described as a “diatribe” — the board called another meeting for Saturday to reopen the discussion regarding coach Hall. The board expressed their regrets about Tuesday’s meeting, with Dr. Edinger even donating his pay for this meeting to the PHS baseball program and encouraging his fellow board member to do the same.
Mrs. Downs, still out of town for the follow-up meeting, wrote a statement, read by Dr. Edinger, contributing her opinion and giving her vote. Mrs. Downs said that it is never in accordance with the protocol of the school board to discuss personnel issues in open session. The rest of the board was in agreement, stating that this matter should have been discussed behind closed doors in executive session.
Cal Smith was also absent from the meeting Saturday. Dr. Edinger was asked why Mr. Smith was unable to attend, Edinger said “He sent the message he was unable to attend.” There was wide speculation in the room that Mr. Smith was reluctant to face the community.
Ms. Larimer, the one abstaining vote at the Feb. 17 board meeting, gave an explanation as to why she voted the way she did. She said because of her election promise “never to make an uninformed decision” during her time on the school board.
The real intrigue was not in the vote, but in the statements made by several community members, including football coach Matt Kregel and parents of current and former PHS students. Those that chose to speak at the meeting expressed disappointment and anger with the situation as well as overwhelming support for coach Hall and Perrysburg Schools district.
Another issue brought up by most community members choosing to participate in the meeting was the future of Mr. Smith on the school board.
“We need to continue to support those of you [board members] who act in a positive way,” said Ms. Dimmerling. “Cal won’t stop. This has to end. Today, we are asking Cal Smith to resign for violating the Board of Education code of ethics.”
Several subsequent speakers echoed Ms. Dimmerling’s call for action, as well as expressing a need for parents and community members to become more involved in school board proceedings to ensure that nothing like this happens again. Coach Kregel said, “Our coaching community in Perrysburg is tight-knit. As coaches, as educators, we can’t allow this to happen.”
“We won’t let it take a back seat: what’s important for the kids and for the program, said Ray Pohlman, the Perrysburg Athletic Director.
Superintendent Tom Hosler said that Mr. Smith brought up the accusations “first, five years ago when not serving on the school board, secondly, in 2014 after six weeks of being on the school board, and in 2015.”
Mr. Hosler also emphasized that Mr. Smith’s claims were fully investigated and dismissed immediately upon investigation.
Warren Badenhop also was interviewed regarding coach Hall. His son, Burke Badenhop, is a Major League Baseball pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds. Warren Badenhop stressed his son “would not be where he is now without coach Hall.” He said that coach Hall and his son “are both very intellectual about the game and they worked very well together.”
Many other parents had similar stories about coach Hall. The wide support for Hall was prominent and players and parents alike have said they will advocate for Coach Hall in the future, so something like this would not happen again.