An odd set of events led to the brief firing of Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School track and field coach Don Robinson on Friday, a day before his team competed in the state sectionals. But after a meeting with District 97 Superintendent Albert Roberts on Monday, Robinson was reinstated to the position.
Robinson was apparently fired by Brooks Assistant Principal Dave Dotson for discriminating against an athlete on the track team. A press release issued by D97 spokesperson Chris Jasculca on Tuesday afternoon said Robinson had been reinstated to the position as of Monday evening and parents of the athletes on the team had been notified.
“We were contacted by a parent/guardian who made a claim that the head coach of the track team at Brooks discriminated against his child,” the press release stated. “Superintendent Roberts instructed the building administration to investigate the allegation, which is standard procedure for the district in these cases. The investigation uncovered that the communication process in place was not as effective as it needs to be; and that the coach failed to respond to administrative requests as fully or as promptly as is expected of all employees. However, the allegations of discrimination were unfounded.
“The coach accepted responsibility and was disciplined for his actions, but we are prohibited by law from providing details about personnel matters. He has been reinstated to the position, and will resume his coaching responsibilities immediately.”
Robinson, who did not return a phone call on Tuesday seeking comment, resumes his duties in time for the upcoming IESA State Meet where nine of his athletes will compete.
“While I am disappointed by the recent developments at Brooks, and recognize that aspects of this situation could have and should have been handled better, they do not diminish my opinion of our exemplary staff or tarnish their accomplishments,” said D97 Superintendent Roberts in the statement. “They do, however, reflect the need for us to always act responsibly and expect the best not only from our students, but from ourselves.
“With that said, I was incredibly impressed by the honesty and integrity exhibited by coach Robinson and his assistants during what I know was a difficult conversation. I also have a great deal of respect and admiration for the time, effort and energy they commit to helping our students reach their fullest potential on the track and in the classroom; and wish them and their team the best of luck in this weekend’s state meet.”
Robinson, a native Oak Parker who graduated from OPRF High School, has worked with the special education department in D97 for eight years. He’s been coaching both track and cross-country at Brooks for over five years.