BREAKING NEWS: Muir football coach Ken Howard placed on administrative leave for altercation with a student, Dave Mitchell to coach tonight vs. Arcadia.

By Brian Charles and Frank Girardot, Staff Writer

PASADENA – John Muir High School head football coach Ken Howard Friday was placed on administrative leave after a scuffle with a student.

The scuffle, which occurred Wednesday, happened after Howard and other school personnel searched the Northwest Pasadena high school campus for a student reportedly in possession of a weapon, Howard said.

“The kid was resisting,” Howard said. “I told him to sit in his seat and it got physical. I wrapped the kid up and escorted him from the classroom.”

During the struggle, the unidentified student was injured, according to Randy Ertll, a community activist. Ertll said the student was choked and slammed onto a desk.

The student received medical care, and was bruised on his back and there was blood on his neck, Ertll said.

Howard, a former school security guard, said in 17 years on the Muir campus he’s never had a similar altercation.


Pasadena police responded, but did not make an arrest, according to officials in the Police Department’s records division.

“The police officers that responded said I did everything right,” Howard said.

Nonetheless, school officials questioned Howard’s role in searching for the student and requesting to search the student’s backpack for a weapon.

“I think there are enough questions about the behavior,” said Renatta Cooper, PUSD board president. “Quite frankly, he is not authorized to conduct a search.”

Howard said he accompanied by two security officers, and the search was authorized by an administrator at Muir who later apologized for authorizing the search.

Neither the security guards or the administrator have been disciplined, Cooper said.

“The bottom line is that I kept myself and other kids on campus safe,” Howard said. “I even kept (the student) safe. If he had been out in the community with that weapon he could have been seriously injured in some other way.”

Howard said he did not know if the student’s backpack was ever searched or if a weapon was recovered.

Howard will be paid during his administrative leave. Cooper said Howard’s job is “not a highly paid position.”

The coach said he hopes the issue can be resolved soon.

Muir’s Mustangs were 2-1 entering Friday night’s game with Arcadia. After Howard was notified of the suspension Friday afternoon, he was relegated to keeping his distance from the team.

“It’s a real good season for us,” Howard said. “It could be a setback, but I think we can overcome this.”

The incident was immediately condemned by at least one Pasadena community leader.

“This type of behavior is outrageous and illegal,” Randy Ertll, executive director of El Centro De Accion Social, said in a statement released Friday. “Coaches should not be harassing and beating students. This sets a terrible example.”

Ertll questioned why Howard conducted the search and said Muir needs to develop better methods for searching students.

“There needs to be better policies and procedures for conducting searches,” Ertll said. “There shouldn’t be random people doing searches, there should be authorized personnel doing searches.”

Dave Mitchell, Muir’s assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach, will serve as interim head football coach. He coached the Mustangs Friday.

Staff Writer Miguel Melendez contributed to this story.

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  • UnderCoverBrother

    Typical ghetto-ball program and coaching staff.

  • JC O’Dwyer

    You’re an unhappy, ungrateful, racist individual for making such a crass comment. You should be ashamed of yourself.

  • Wasn’t There

    This seems like a big mistake by the admin. Ken’s a good sized man. It looks like he was “recruited” to help find this kid.We have no idea what happened @ the time of the incident.Adrenaline can take over in those types of situations. I hope everything turns out OK for him.

  • woanelly

    If you only knew what Ken has to go through every single day trying to keep these kids in line, doing the right thing, going to class, respect for self and others and so on. The details we do not know about but of course The Star News cannot wait to put negative headlines in the paper about Muir. He does the dirty work for the school and the district. They also spoke without knowing the details because it is Muir. In my opinion they see Muir as wanted and needed real estate and that is it.

  •,0,6895062.story David J. Sanchez

    Dear Randy Ertll,

    Are you CRAZY? A 17 year old girl is DEAD! Sure she was killed at a different school in a different city but she is still dead! If her boyfirend had been searched by someone, by anyone, authorized or unauthorized maybe she would still be alive. Children under 18 don’t have rights, no freedom of speech, no freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. I say good and tough luck if they don’t like it.

    You take your ass to her funeral and look at her mother in the eyes and worry about who is authorized to search for weapons. You are delusional and Coach Ken Howard should be reinstated now!

    David John Sanchez
    Montebello, California

  • Steve Blackmon

    Unbelievable! The coach is “not authorized to conduct a search”, but a teacher can be held legally liable if he does not report a possible child abuse of a student. In the state where I teach, that’s exactly the case. If I just think I see signs of child abuse for any student, I HAVE to report it, by law! What a picture these two draw. A teacher must report a possible abuse, but that same teacher cannot move to help protect lives at the school.

    Where is this country going? Thank you, coach. Do the same thing next time, if necessary.