Wayland to assess its high school athletics program
WAYLAND — The Wayland School Committee voted Monday to fund a schoolwide survey about the high school athletic department after the former athletic director alleged that it is rife with problems.
The survey of high school students, parents, coaches, and teachers may “give a voice to different elements of the community,” said Paul Stein, Wayland’s superintendent of schools.
The survey will be conducted by Northeastern University’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society at a cost of up to $10,000.
After being informed that his contract would not be renewed for next year, athletic director Stephen Cass sent a letter May 19 to the School Committee alleging “many disturbing practices,” including misused funds, inadequate background checks for coaches, and lopsided funding favoring boys’ teams in violation of Title IX, a federal law prohibiting gender discrimination in schools.
To investigate those allegations, the committee voted June 3 to enlist the help of outside agencies such as the state Office of the Inspector General, the State Ethics Commission, and the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.
But more than a month later, Stein said there have been “no reports yet from an outside agency.”
The Office for Civil Rights sent the School Committee a request for documentation, which the committee voted Monday would be handled by its attorneys. The board also voted to discuss its response to Cass next Monday in an executive session.
Meanwhile, the school district has stopped using a company owned by the father of Wayland’s head football coach to purchase team apparel, Stein said in a statement last week.
“No school clubs or sports will use this company while this situation is under investigation” by the State Ethics Commission, the statement said.
The schoolwide survey will be paid for with excess funds that would have gone toward the athletic director’s salary, had his contract been renewed, Stein said.
“We’re not just going to survey a particular team of kids. We’re going to survey everybody,” Stein said.
“It will help [the community] bring a consensus on what we value most in an athletic program, and if things work out as I hope, we’ll have a collective ownership on what the athletic department is going to be.”
But some at the meeting said the survey as planned would not include retired teachers, parents of graduated students, and other concerned residents.
“We all pay our taxes, and more than 70 percent of the town budget goes to the schools,” said Linda Segal, a Wayland resident. “Don’t forget the rest of us.”
Stein responded that he “definitely wants to talk to Northeastern” about broadening the survey to include more Wayland residents.
Cass said the survey doesn’t address the problems he witnessed in the athletic department.
“A study’s not going to hold people accountable,” he said. “It’s not going to promote gender equity.”