The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Lou Marzeles
Editor 

Parents say school response inadequate

 


Parents and players concerned about Goldendale High School volleyball coach Jodi Bellamy’s style of coaching remain adamant about their issues, which they say remain inadequately addressed despite an ostensible conclusion by a school board vote. Increasingly, frustration is aimed at Goldendale School District Superintendent Mark Heid and what some are calling a figurehead school board.

“We still can’t be sure that our children are going to be safe if they want to play volleyball,” said Leslie Hiebert, one of several mothers who first brought complaints about Bellamy’s coaching to the school district. She was responding to the final, unanimous vote by the school board to retain Bellamy. “And we’re concerned that there is no transparency.” Hiebert was alluding to Heid’s assertion that any reactive measures regarding Bellamy by the district would not be disclosed to the public, citing union regulations prohibiting such disclosure. The complainant mothers and players say that policy gives them no assurance that effective steps have been taken to solve the problem.

The complaints cited against Bellamy’s coaching approach include repeated intimidation and disparagement of players—leading many to conclude that the complaints were merely whining by sub-performing students and their strident moms—but the worst of the issues listed were about physical harm to players. One such incident was noted by Tracey Chapple in a letter last week in which she stated that during a practice after a game the team lost, she saw Bellamy hurl a ball into the face of a player with force enough to draw blood and shout at her that “No one should be having a good time after the loss we had last night.” Another of the complaints filed against Bellamy to the district stated that a player who had recently had surgery and told Bellamy about it was made to do rolls on the floor, an exercise simulating recovery from falls during play. Similarly, another complaint details how a student incurred a stress fracture when made to do 50 stair laps—running a path in the gym that includes going up and down stairs, with every 10 laps being about a mile—for being five minutes late to practice.

“I don’t expect my daughter to go without discipline if she does something that needs attention,” says Melanie Osborne, mother of the player with the stress fracture. “But the issue here is, how much is too much? When does reasonable discipline become something harmful?”

Bellamy was asked about these and other complaints but chose not to speak on the record.

Some of the complainant parents also say the process for complaint resolution is heavily obfuscated by Heid and his seeming control of the school board. “They just do what he says,” one source says, citing a conversation in which a member of the board stated the board voted as it did because there was a strong recollection in mind about the last time it contradicted Heid. Another source recalls a conversation with Heid in which the superintendent said he needed people on the board who would leave him alone to do his job. Both sources did not wish their names to be used.

“The whole thing just isn’t getting resolved,” says Osborne, echoing a common thread in the parents’ comments that the issue now needs to be heard in a public arena.

 

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