Latest Update: A confidential school district memorandum calls into question the behavior of a football coach and a “belligerent” student who were involved in a scuffle that lead to the coach being placed on administrative leave.
The skinny: Muir football coach Ken Howard, a former school security guard who spent 17 years patrolling the Muir halls, said he was asked by vice principal Dr. Charles Park to conduct a search of a student reportedly armed with a knife on Friday, and a scuffle ensued in what Howard described as necessary to defend himself, and apparently, after meeting with police, they felt so too, opting not to file charges. “The police officers that responded said I did everything right,” Howard said. Even so, Howard was placed on administrative leave, and removed as head coach while the school conducts an investigation. Howard said in Tuesday’s story that Park apologized to him for authorizing the search and Howard’s attorney said Park authorized the search. However, in tomorrow’s paper there will be an update in which Park declares he never asked Howard to conduct a search. I hate to write it, but it sounds to me that administrators are prepared to make Howard the scapegoat. We will continue to update as this develops. Just to clarify, the administrative leave was his removal from coaching. Howard is no longer a full-time security guard at Muir, he was laid off as part of budget cuts more than a year ago. But he still volunteers to help with security since he’s the football coach, something he does to help keep his players in line at school. This I also find interesting. The suspension of Howard came the same day a fatal stabbing occurred at Southeast High in South Gate. Four people were stabbed, including the school’s dean. Although a knife was never found during Howard’s search, the result of not searching when you suspect someone has a weapon could end up a South Gate situation if you don’t err on the side of caution, something school officials should keep in mind when sorting this out.
Monday’s updated story: On Friday the popular Howard was placed on administrative leave after an altercation Wednesday with a student who was reportedly armed with a knife. A scuffle ensued after Howard attempted to search the student’s backpack. Howard said he was told to search the backpack by a school administrator. 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.”