Support Coach Russ
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This petition has been started in support of Coach Russ Livingston, following his recent termination from coaching at Agoura High School, for texting deemed inappropriate. Please join the ever growing number of parents, athletes, students, alumni, family and friends in putting pressure on Agoura High School and the Las Virgenes School District to remove the additional heavy handed, totally unfair and unwarranted restrictions they levied upon him.
His termination was the result of one alarmist individual whose actions led to a witch hunt against the Coach that left him in ruins. Despite Coach Russ being fully interrogated by the Lost Hills Sheriff Department and having them dismiss the incident as nothing more than bad texting content, AHS and LVUSD continued to interrogate students, without parents’ knowledge and consent. This led to the start of terrible rumors and untruths, exacerbated by a poorly worded email sent to parents from the school.
We are demanding that the LVUSD publicly retract any and all damning statements and directives that imply that the Coach is a safety threat to kids. We also demand the LVUSD remove written restrictions that prevent Coach Russ continuing his long standing relationships with fellow coaches, remove banning him from having any contact with the athletes he has invested time and effort in coaching and especially remove the ban preventing the Coach from setting foot on the grounds of his Alma Mater ever again. These punishments are completely ridiculous and don’t fit the mistake that was made.
The vindictive nature of the restrictions forced upon the Coach by the LVUSD are shameful and not at all reflective of the supposed quality standards this administration claims to hold itself to.
The email below is being sent to representatives of AHS & LVUSD and gives further details of the event.
This petition will be delivered to:Agoura High School & Las Virgenes School District Superintendent, Dr Dan Stepenosky
We are a group of people that support Coach Russ Livingston following his recent termination from Agoura High School (AHS) for texting deemed inappropriate. We have started a petition at (www.change.org/p/support-coach-russ which is being supported by a growing number of parents, athletes, students, alumni, friends and family in regard to the additional, unreasonable punishments being enforced.
We are aware that Coach Russ sent text messages to an athlete he was training and we know the improper content of those text messages. It is understood that, in his position, he should not have used bad language and expletive remarks, however, we do feel these remarks, a poor attempt at humor, were taken out of context. We fully understand that his mistakes and poor judgment were unacceptable to AHS/LVUSD and some form of reprimand be served, but he does not deserve the ruinous treatment he received. We are seriously troubled by the deplorable way in which Coach Russ was dealt with by AHS and the LVUSD and strongly question why he has been exiled from the entire school; the campus, students, and staff members.
On September 5th, the first day of this termination process, the Lost Hills Sheriff Department showed Coach Russ the text message printout and interrogated him fully. They didn’t find anything more than bad text content, which is not a crime, and therefore publicly cleared him of any lawful wrong doing. However these text messages have been used by the AHS/LVUSD administration to not only terminate Coach Russ’ position but completely tarnish his reputation as a good person, great coach, trainer and mentor for so many kids, along with placing excessive restrictions upon him.
Even after the Sheriff’s Department cleared the matter, AHS continued to interrogate dozens of student athletes for days. We’ve heard that these interviews left the kids feeling uneasy, confused and worried. Not only were the kids interrogated without parents’ knowledge or consent, but in some instances their privacy was violated by administrators reading their private text messages and taking screen shots of their phones. That, together with the pointed questions gave way to them imagining the worse and the start of terrible rumors and untruths.
The mass email that Garrett Lepisto, the Athletic Director, sent to all AHS athlete parents, after the Sheriff’s Department publicly ‘outed’ Coach Russ, did nothing to dispel the horrible rumors that were circulating around campus. In fact, it left so much to the imagination that it implied that Coach Russ was a predator and safety threat to the students.
At the end of Coach Russ’s termination meeting, Principal Mercer said that Coach Russ was never to contact another AHS student or faculty member ever again, for any reason… or else. This was re-iterated in his termination letter, together with a directive not allowing him to set foot on any LVUSD campus. These restrictions are, at the very least, heavy handed and unjustified. Since when does LVUSD have the right to prevent two adults from speaking to one another regardless of where they work? The Sheriff’s Department determined Coach Russ not to be a threat, so why is he still being completely exiled from AHS?
Recently in the press, school districts have been criticized for not acting quickly or strongly enough when situations have arisen on campus. This incident has been dealt with in such an aggressive manner, it seems that LVUSD may be trying to make an example out of Coach Russ.
Coach Russ runs a successful personal training business off campus, many of his private clients have been AHS students outside of school hours. When a member of our group spoke with Dan Stepanosky, (Superintendent LVUSD) on the phone, he was asked how the LVUSD felt they could dictate who the AHS kids and parents interacted with. Stepanosky told the parent that they would not say this especially as that would affect Coach Russ’ livelihood. They not only said it as a threat but it’s in writing on the coach’s termination letter, written by Rose Dunn, Head of Personnel, LVUSD.
The LVUSD has not only lied, it has taken on the role of a bully; driving a man who is filled with tremendous integrity and compassion, who is respected and loved by countless people, who truly makes this world a better place into a place of self doubt, darkness, and worst of all shame. The interrogation of the kids was irresponsible and damaging to them as well. Things at school must also be hard for the athlete whose mom started the accusations in the first place. An institution that supposedly condemns bullying has taken on the role of the ultimate bully leaving many victims in its wake.
We are ashamed of AHS and LVUSD for the choices they made in this matter. Reputable employers actually allow their staff an opportunity to be human and make a mistake, take them aside to create a learning experience, and then move on. Starting a very public witch-hunt complete with a proverbial burning at the stake by firing someone and then blasting hundreds of parents with a vague email, leaving them to think the worst is not professional, is totally unfair and in this case, entirely unwarranted.
The quick judgment to damn Coach Russ has not only harmed him in ways that can never be undone, it has also harmed his family, friends, young adults whom he mentored over many years as well as those he mentors now. The unprofessional way AHS/LVUSD went about making Coach Russ look like a predator left him so distraught that things turned into a life and death situation for him. Indeed an incredibly sad time for all of us.
The group of people who have gathered collectively to start this petition are not doing so in the hope of getting the Coach reinstated. Most of us have known Coach Russ for many years, some even decades and can say with confidence that this is a good man of the utmost integrity and character who wants nothing but the best for the kids. He is, absolutely, unquestionably, in no way, a threat to these kids. This event is something that he will suffer with and pay for, for the rest of his life. Not just from losing his eligibility to coach at AHS but being banned from the very high school he graduated from, the high school that voted him “Most School Spirit” his senior year, when he was also the ASB President. And most of all, his pain will come from missing the kids. Coach Russ is not someone kids need to be protected from, he is someone who would always be there to protect them.
The level of punishment administered cannot possibly be justified against someone who used poor judgment while texting. It makes no sense. We realize the school had every right to take action but the way in which this situation was handled is appalling. We are therefore demanding the LVUSD repair some of the damage they have caused by retracting the written restrictions that have been levied upon him; remove banning Coach Russ from his alma mater, remove banning him from contacting students (whose parents give permission), and remove banning him from contacting staff members. We also feel a follow up email to athlete parents rectifying the false information that has been circulating and implied in the previous email, is necessary. This, we feel, will help the healing process of not only Coach Russ, but also the many AHS students, coaches, parents and community who have been affected by the LVUSD’s overly forceful actions.
The punishments dealt clearly don’t fit the mistake that was made. We hope AHS and LVUSD have the decency to put this right and live up to the supposed quality standards this administration claims to hold itself to.
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