Was it Wrong to Force Cal High Basketball Coach Bob Donovan to Resign?

Donovan said he was forced to resign because of an incident two years ago when he allowed an accused, but not convicted, child molester watch a practice. Do you think that was a good enough reason for Donovan to be fired?

Former California High basketball coach Bob Donovan told the San Ramon Valley Unified School District Board of Education Tuesday that he was improperly forced out of his coaching job, the Contra Costa Times and The Californian reported.

The reason why Donovan says the school district forced him to resign was because in October 2010 he let basketball coach Mike Phelps observe one of his practices.

Phelps, one of the winningest high school coaches in California history, was accused in 2003 of molesting a child about 40 years earlier. The Bishop O'Dowd High School coach pleaded not guilty and the case was thrown after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a California law that allowed prosecutors to file charges against those accused of sex offenses after the statute of limitations had expired.

During a packed school board meeting with many in attendance supporting Donovan, he told the school board that a group of parents had anonymously emailed district administrators with various accusations against him.

The Times quoted Donovan as saying:

Ms. Shelton informed me that I was exonerated of all the charges made by the parent except for allowing Mike Phelps into the gym...Ms. Shelton went on to inform me that, in her opinion, I made a poor decision to let Mr. Phelps into the gym, and she could not defend my decision to this parent or any other parent. They gave me a choice to resign or be fired. Ms. Romeo further stated that while the district's decision would not affect my teaching position, I would never be allowed to coach in the San Ramon Valley Unified District again."

One of Donovan's assistant coaches, Miguel Campos, also spoke at the meeting and said a few parents were behind the ouster and one of the women involved told him that, "We are very wealthy. I don't work, and I have nothing but time. I'm going to fight this to the end."

The Californian reported there were concerns about Donovan from parents since he was hired in 2010, according to a member of the committee that hired Donovan.

The Californian talked with Cal High's former baseball coach Brian Coburn, who was in charge from 2002-09.

He told the student paper that he left the program for similar reasons.

"I don’t know why the school district listens to this small minority of (parents),” Coburn told The Californian.

The paper also reported that Donovan was third Cal High coach to resign this year because of parent involvement.

The school district has not commented on the situation.

Do you think Donovan should have been fired? What role do you think parents should play with their child's teams? Do you think the school district handled this correctly?


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Kim Kovalchik-Ii December 03, 2012 at 11:23 PM
After viewing Mr. Donovan's complete speech before the Board, I can only say that I am completely appalled (if what Donovan states that happened is true and I feel it is) with the District's actions. Of course, all complaints presented to the District should be investigated, as Donovan himself stated during his speech, but time and again, Donovan was exonerated as to these complaints. So why were these complaints brought up with Donovan - repeatedly - after he had been exonerated? Whenever I have had a complaint with this District (and believe me I've had a few), I didn't send my correspondence to the District w/o attaching my own name to my complaint. Why were these complaints sent anonymously? Further, I would advise Mary Shelton that she 'could' be setting herself up for a suit, given the complaint against Coach Phelps WAS DROPPED. I know absolutely nothing about Phelps' background, but from what I've been able to find via search on the Internet, it appears that what, essentially, Donovan states regarding Phelps' background is, indeed, correct. There SHOULD be a presumption of innocence regarding Phelps' background. I find, personally, that Donovan has done absolutely nothing wrong in allowing Coach Phelps into an OPEN GYM to simply view a practice (or whatever it was they were doing). From my experience with this district, I can only assume that something else is going on, here. Perhaps the fear of a lawsuit by a 'wealthy' parent, perhaps. What a shame.
Victor Remillard January 03, 2013 at 05:23 PM
A thread on one of the Northern California HS Sports message boards intimated Tom Lindberg and his wife spearheaded the anonymous email campaign. If it was the Lindberg couple, why take the anonymous approach? Tom doesn't have any issue posting in public forums to criticize the local fire department retirement program. Why would he hide behind anonymous emails to force coach Bob out? I've coached youth and high school sports for the past twelve years and am simply amazed at how frequently parent behavior is far more immature than their children who are playing the game. I've met coach Bob during AAU and CYO basketball tournaments and he seemed like a reasonable person and coach. It's a shame boys basketball at Cal High has devolved into the mess it appears to have become.
Sicc Made February 14, 2013 at 10:38 PM
let's all smoke weed at the skate park
Renae Wilber November 13, 2013 at 12:05 PM
My question remains as to why Mr. Corti would so readily take down one of San Ramon's most valued and respected teachers and coaches, when he himself should have been fired years ago for segregating African American students away from "white" students prior to standardized testing, to give them their own separate little pep rally. Perhaps in our unbridled witch hunt, we should include those who live in glass houses and have truly offended.
Joe Rainey March 22, 2014 at 03:43 PM
Mike Phelps is one of the greatest men - not coaches, not educators - I have ever had the privilege of knowing. As my HS algebra teacher at St. Joseph's HS Alameda, he was knowledgeable, patient, and had multiple ways to explain a problem to any student in his classes. As a basketball coach, I have to this day never seen any better at any level of the sport, maximizing the ability of a very small talent pool at a very small school to win as a team against opponents with superior numbers and talent. I was not on the team, but in gym class, he gave aspiring basketball players the same level of attention to advancing their knowledge of the game and maximizing their skills and ability to compete, as to his team players. When I returned to the school years after leaving, he remembered me - just a student, not one of his players - and greeted me warmly. In 30 plus years of coaching, none of us who actually knew him as a teacher or coach ever witnessed him behave inappropriately, or even heard rumors of him behaving inappropriately around a student. I would not only allow Mike Phelps to teach my own son everything he knows about basketball and algebra, I would be honored to have him do so. If exposing kids to Mike Phelps is this coach's crime, he should be given a raise.


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