FARMINGTON — Wrestlers and parents voiced their support of Piedra Vista High School's former wrestling coach Levi Stout to the Farmington Municipal School District's Board of Education.
About 20 people spoke about why they believe the coach's contract should be renewed during the board meeting on Thursday evening at the Jerry A. Conner Fieldhouse.
Last month, district officials declined to renew Stout's contract after Piedra Vista's athletic department recommended the action. Department officials submitted a letter of seven violations Stout allegedly committed during his time as head coach. Stout has coached the school's wrestling team since 2007.
Thursday's meeting was moved from the district's central office to Piedra Vista High School to accommodate a larger-than-normal turnout. About 200 people attended the meeting. Many wore T-shirts that read #FightForStout, and some people brought posters urging the board to reinstate Stout.
Former wrestlers highlighted the team's accomplishments, including four consecutive state titles. They also spoke about how Stout worked with them as individuals and helped them grow into adults.
"Stout always seems to find the positives in the negatives," Piedra Vista junior wrestler Philip Archuleta said to the board.
Superintendant Janel Ryan did not address any of the people who spoke in support of Stout during the meeting.
After the meeting, she declined to comment on the matter. She said the district plans to issue a statement concerning the issue, but she did not provide a time frame for its release.
Stout attended the meeting, but did not speak publicly. After the meeting, he said it was good hear people not just speak about the state championships PV has won, but the values the coaches are trying to instill in the kids.
"It was great to hear friends, family and especially students I've coached speak to the importance of values and education over competition," he said.
PV junior wrestler Wyatt Weaver said the PV coaches' effect on students goes far beyond just winning championships.
"It's about what these coaches mean to the kids," Weaver said to board. "I'm sure you could take away all four wrestling state titles, or you could take away all eight of the softball state titles, and the coaches wouldn't lose any sleep, because it's not about if they can bring home a blue trophy. It's about how they can prepare these kids for the real world."
Sandy Schumacher, the president of the board of education, clarified the board doesn't make personnel decisions, with the exception of the superintendent position. She said contracts are determined on the school level.
But, Schumacher said, she was happy to see so many people turn out to voice their concerns.
"Everybody has been really passionate. I can hear it. I can feel it. It makes you want to listen," Schumacher said during the meeting.