Football: Muir adjusts to football without a head coach.

By Miguel A. Melendez, Staff Writer

PASADENA — Football players Monday returned to practice at John Muir High School without their head coach Ken Howard.

Highly-touted recruit Kevon Seymour and teammates prepared for weight-lifting before hitting the field for practice in preparation for Friday’s road game against Pacific League foe Burroughs of Burbank.

“We want him back,” said Seymour, a standout defensive back and wide receiver. “It was shocking when we found out that he would be gone (on leave). I would love to have him back. The whole team would love to have him back.”

On Friday the popular Howard was placed on administrative leave last week after an altercation Wednesday with a student who was reportedly armed with a knife. A scuffle between Howard and the student ensued after Howard attempted to search the student’s backpack.

Howard said he was told to search the backpack by an administrator at the school. His attorney Joe Hopkins identified the administrator as Dr. Charles Park.

“(Howard) was trying to protect other people from being harmed by some missing deadly weapons, i.e. knives,” Hopkins said. “He was trying to find where they were and the result is he ends up being suspended … (it) makes me think Howard is the scapegoat.”

Park did not return three phone calls seeking comment.

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Pasadena police were called to the school about the time of the scuffle, but did not find a knife, Pasadena police Lt. Phlunte Riddle said.

The case involving Howard has been reviewed and no criminal charges will be filed, Riddle said.
“(The district) will have their internal process reviewed and at that point they will determine if there were any policies and procedures violated by coach Howard,” Riddle said.

According to Hilda Ramirez, a spokeswoman for the Pasadena Unified School District, policy states “school officials may search students, their property, and/or district property under their control and may seize illegal, unsafe, or otherwise prohibited items.”

Furthermore, policy stipulates “searches of individual students shall be conducted in the presence of at least two district employees.”

Howard last week said he was accompanied by two security guards during the search and said Park apologized for authorizing the search.

Ramirez said administrators conduct searches “whenever there’s reasonable suspicion.”
The suspension of Howard came the same day fatal stabbing occurred at Southeast High in South Gate. Four people were stabbed, including the school’s dean. The victim was the estranged girlfriend of the suspect who previously made verbal threats.

Howard is in his seventh season as head coach with a 48-24 career record. Dave Mitchell, an assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach, will coach on an interim basis. Muir (2-2 overall, 0-1 in the Pacific League) is the No. 10 team in the tough Southeast Division.

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  • realTALK

    coach howard is a great guy and this is unfortunate for this muir team who needs to bounce back this week after their arcadia game last friday night. good luck to coach howard!

  • Backus revisited

    I pray Howard doesn’t befall the same fate as Randy Backus…he was canned in less deadly but similar situation disciplining a student…

  • 6power

    The situation is eerily similar to the Backus disaster. Backus had the added misfortune that the initial reports about the incident painted Backus looking like the Temple City Strangler and not a faculty member trying to do the right thing.

    Of course it became obvious later Backus had little support from those in administrative positions – persons already itching for cause to see him gone.
    If Howard has detractors in the Muir admistrative hierarchy – look for him to sail down the highway as well.

    Nowadays 14 years or even 20 years of hard work and dedication can be pissed away in a heartbeat behind closed doors. Hopefully Howard has not crushed the toes of his superiors – and left them reasons to dance from innocent to guilty without first weighing in on all the facts.
    Right or wrong his service at Muir makes him deserved of a honorable process in which he maintains at least a shot at keeping his job.

    Unfortunately Backus was buried before it started – as illustrated by quotes from persons at TC who suggested Backus accept his fate, show some class and resign. With friends like that in your corner, no wonder he teaches football at Arcadia now.

  • keeping it real

    Coach Howard is a good person and I hope he is allowed to return back to work. But far as football goes its time for change. How can you be a head coach and not have any input on the offense or defense. All he does during the game is walk back and forth down the sideline. I appreciate what Coach Howard has done for the youth of Pasadena but its definitely time for a brand new coaching staff.

  • Time for a change

    Great guy and good security guard. Terrible coach. Horrible coach. Incompetent coach. Keep him as a security guard, but please, for the love of God, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, PLEASE find a new coach for a once-proud program. PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!