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Published: Thursday, 1/31/2008

Arcadia ousts 4 wrestling team coaches for drinking

BLADE STAFF

ARCADIA, Ohio - Despite pleas for leniency from some district residents, four coaches for Arcadia High School's wrestling team won't be finishing the season after they were found intoxicated at a Sandusky hotel where the team was staying last weekend.

At a special meeting yesterday, the school board voted 5-0 not to renew the coaching contracts of Dane Kirian, 47; his son, Adam Kirian, 20; Heath Hill, 27, and Michael Miller, 27.

Superintendent Laurie Walles said Mr. Miller was a board-approved volunteer coach for the team. The other three were paid coaches with supplemental contracts. None of the men was employed in any other capacity at Arcadia, she said.

The board then hired Dane Kirian's brother, Dean Kirian, to complete the season as varsity coach and named Kyle Dickerson as assistant coach and Steve True as a volunteer coach for the rest of the season.

Before the board's vote, more than a dozen parents and other residents said they agreed the coaches made a mistake, but the residents did not believe the coaches deserved to be fired.

Donald Moses, who said he was a retired supervisor at Cooper Tire in Findlay, said Cooper had a strong prohibition against alcohol in the workplace, but he gave workers a second chance when they made a mistake.

"You don't fire good people over one incident," Mr. Moses said.

Connie Cotten, who identified herself as a former coach of girls' teams at Arcadia, said coaches have important responsibilities and if the allegations were true, the board could not allow such mistakes.

Ms. Walles said the wrestling team was in Sandusky Friday and Saturday for a tournament at Sandusky Central Catholic High School when the incident occurred about 4 a.m. Saturday at the Comfort Inn on Milan Road.

According to Perkins Township police reports, an officer checking the hotel parking lot saw Mr. Miller and Mr. Hill in the parking lot near the hotel's back entrance with open cans of beer.

When officers learned they were wrestling coaches chaperoning the student athletes staying at the hotel, police went to speak with head coach Dane Kirian to make sure a sober adult was in charge. Instead, they found Mr. Kirian asleep in his room. When they woke him up, the report states, "He appeared to be very intoxicated and had vomit on his arm." He began to stand up, then fell back on the bed, the report states.

After making sure an adult who had not been drinking - Karla Lewis, who was chaperoning some of the school's other students - would make sure all the students were safe, police cited Mr. Miller and Mr. Hill for having an open container. Officers also charged Mr. Kirian's son, Adam, with underage consumption and took him to the Erie County jail.

According to the police report, Adam Kirian admitted to drinking a few beers with his father.

"We have a board policy that forbids the use of alcohol during any school-sponsored event or district activity, such as a field trip or athletic event in which students are under the jurisdiction of district authorities," Ms. Walles said.

She said no students were drinking or involved in the incident in any way, and parents of many of the team members were staying at the hotel that night. She called the incident unfortunate.

"They're good coaches. We have good kids. It was just a poor choice," she said, adding that coaches are expected to be role models for students.

The school district has 633 students.

Arcadia is in Hancock County, halfway between Fostoria and Findlay.



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