Popular Dover High School teacher Robert “Bob” Healy has been transferred to William Henry Middle School by the Capital School District because the district wants coaches who also teach at the school.
The Capital Board of Education made the transfer official as part of the personnel report it approved Wednesday night at the new Administration and Professional Development Center.
Healy had been the boys’ lacrosse at Dover High for five years before he resigned eight years ago to take the same position at Salesianum School in Wilmington. He has since led Sallies to four state championships.
Healy had remained a Capital School District employee and an effective physical education teacher at Dover High School as evidenced by the dozen people who spoke up for him at the school board’s July meeting.
However, former Dover High Principal Eugene Montaño had made several requests to transfer teachers to Dover who were coaching at the school. Montaño, now a district administrator, told the Capital School Board Wednesday night that it was important to have coaches who teach at the school for the sake of the school’s community.
“My son and daughter participated on four or more sports teams at Dover High,” Montaño said. “I saw as a parent and the building principal what coaches in the building and not in the building could do for a team.”
Jerry Houston, a parent of two Dover High students, said he supported Capital’s move to transfer Healy during public comment.
“I never heard of anyone teaching in a district and coaching in another district,” Houston said.
Andy Ortiz, who has one child at Dover and one at Central Middle, said he and several other parents were circulating a petition to encourage Dover High to select coaches that also teach at Dover High.
“It would make a more positive impact on students to be able to have that relationship with their coach not only in the extracurricular activity but during the course of the day,” Ortiz said.
Capital School Board President Kay Dietz-Sass also read a statement sent in by Dover High graduate Kyle Caldwell, who ran cross country and track from 2005 to 2007 for the Senators. Caldwell said the fact that his coach also taught at Dover High went a long way toward turning what had been a mediocre program into an excellent one.
After his senior year, the coach left for another program but remained at Dover as a teacher, Caldwell said.
“To hear this news, I felt pretty betrayed,” he said. “I know that some of my fellow teammates felt awkward walking through the hallways and seeing their former coach. Teachers are supposed to have pride in their schools.”
Reading a statement by the board, Dietz-Sass said Healy was transferred from South Dover Elementary to Dover High School back in 2004 because he was the lacrosse coach.
“Two years later, Mr. Healy resigned his position as lacrosse coach to coach lacrosse at Salesianum, a private school in Wilmington,” she said. “This resignation took place less than sixty days before the opening of lacrosse season and left the lacrosse team without a coach.”
For several years, Montaño requested that Healy be transferred to bring in coaches who wanted to coach at Dover High, Dietz-Sass said. Human Resources delayed that request until it knew for certain that the transfer was allowed under the contract with the Capital Educators Association.
In addition, Montaño anticipated a second, physical education vacancy, Dietz-Sass said. Montaño then contacted three coaches working in Capital but not at Dover High in the following order: head baseball coach Dave Gordon, assistant football and baseball coach Colin Thomas and assistant football and baseball coach Jason Hunt.
Gordon chose to remain in his current assignment so Montaño made the recommendation to H.R. for the reassignment of Thomas and Hunt to Dover High School.
Colin Thomas is the son of Superintendent Dr. Michael Thomas. But Dietz-Sass said Thomas did not engage directly in the daily administration of personnel. The district had procedures and protocols administered by the Director of Human Resources that included building principals making recommendations for personnel to the director of human resources, she said. H.R. Director Dave Vaughn then submitted the personnel list to the school board.
Thomas has refuted claims by a few in the community that nepotism played any role in the transfer of Healy. It was all about strengthening Dover High’s sense of community, per Montaño’s request, he said.
On June 26, Healy was offered an opportunity to remain at Dover High School if he was willing to return as lacrosse coach, but he declined this offer, Dietz-Sass said.
“In his comments to the Board during public comment time at the July meeting, Mr. Healy stated he had not been asked to coach. His statement is simply not true,” she said.
At the June meeting, Healy stated he left his Dover High coaching job because Dover had “non-committed athletes” and “non-caring parents,” Dietz-Sass said, continuing with the statement. "These statements were alarming as the lacrosse athletes and their parents are among the most active and supportive of all the school’s athletic teams.
“Even so, during the past two weeks, Dover High School’s new athletic director contacted Mr. Healy asking him to return as lacrosse coach. Mr. Healy declined the offer.”
Healy attended Wednesday night’s meeting, but he did not speak during public comment. He declined to immediately comment after the meeting.
Healy said he would make a statement to the press soon.