The DPSCD Office of Athletics is the administration for K-12 athletic competition within the Detroit Public School League (DPSL). The Office of Athletics oversees budgeting, scheduling, athletic coordinators, coaches, officials and professional development for twenty (20) high schools and newly expanded K-8 sports program for seventy-two (72) elementary/middle schools. A major role of the Office of Athletics is to ensure that all DPSL schools, coaches, and teams adhere to the policies and procedures of the district and the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA).
The Office of Athletics and Health Education is to provide opportunities for scholar-athletes to develop their athletic talents, promote leadership and team-building skills, practice good sportsmanship, maintain an academic focus that improves attendance, improves social-skills and maximizes their preparedness for higher-education opportunities.
District's response to Renaissance coach change
The way in which the removal of former basketball coach, Vito Jordan, has been reported by some media outlets would certainly suggest that nothing has changed in DPS (now DPSCD). However, the facts would demand a different conclusion. DPSCD made the decision not to engage the media regarding the details of Coach Jordan’s removal to respect his opportunities moving forward and to respect the court’s adjudication of the facts. This strategy, however, backfired when Mr. Jordan and his legal team (which included non-lawyer Robert Davis who has often filed needless and meritless lawsuits against a number of public school districts) provided slanderously and half-truths to the media. By not responding with more details, it appeared as if drama and conspiracies ruled the day in DPS again.
The fact is that the new Renaissance principal was uncomfortable with retaining a coach who had documented conflicts with colleagues, sent the included inappropriate text message to a student-athlete, and posted a Facebook message that did not reflect the direction the principal wanted her school and program to go in under her leadership. This is coupled with the fact that despite having talented players, the team was not winning championships at any level. The new principal, whether someone agreed or disagreed with her, had the full legal authority to make this decision. To be clear, there were no affairs or personal drama. This was about a new leader making a hard decision to move in what she believed was a better direction for the school and program. Although the former coach’s lack of judgment on a number of issues did not necessarily rise to the level of suspension or termination as an employee of the District (he maintains an attendance agent position in the district at another school); however, they are grounds for a new principal to decide to move an athletic program in a new direction (please see the principal’s open statement).
We realize that the former principal could have made the same decision but did not. She had that right as the school’s principal. However, the new principal, at the same time, had the same right to make a change. As a District, we supported this decision because it was based on a thoughtful analysis, not a personal, biased decision. As many can attest to, sometimes the presence of a new leader can challenge the status quo and an organization’s culture.
It’s as if the new principal or District was never given the benefit of the doubt that she or the District was making a hard decision based on principle. The following questions certainly need to be asked: would the coach’s behavior be acceptable in suburban districts? Would certain media outlets continue to allow a conspiracy theory regarding affairs circulate if the new principal were a male?
Factually, Mark White, a two-time state champion head coach at Renaissance High School, was selected by a panel of individuals at the school to be the coach. The dean position was not created for Mark White. Dean positions were funded at all District schools this year through the school-based allocation plan. The former principal at Renaissance decided to convert the position to fund additional teacher positions. The new principal requested that the dean position is provided to the school before the coaching position was even discussed. The selection of deans was a decentralized process owned by each school’s principal. The District provided the dean position to the school, after the previous principal eliminated it, to support a new principal. We have added positions to many schools, not just Renaissance. The hiring of deans is also within the Principal’s discretion. The process of selecting deans needs to be refined for all schools, not just Renaissance, and the district intends to do that during next year’s hiring cycle.
In this situation, the District encouraged the best and proven successful candidates to apply for the position. Why would our schools and students deserve anything less than that? Other districts, private schools, and charter schools have been recruiting our staff and students for years. It’s time for DPSCD to retain and recruit the best staff, including coaches, and to have the highest expectations for their conduct on and off the court.
In sum, there is no reason to deny that staff recruited Mark White, John White, and others to apply for the Renaissance coaching position. As a result, the candidate believed to be the best for the students at Renaissance was selected. That candidate simply was not Vito Jordan.
Alvin L. Ward
Deputy Executive Director
9th Floor Fisher Building
3011 West Grand Boulevard
Detroit, MI 48202
Fax Server: 313-873-5134
Program Associate, K-8 Athletics
Phone: (313) 873-8585
Fax Server: (313) 873-5134
Program Associate, 9-12 Athletics
Phone: (313) 870-5863
Fax Server: (313) 873-5134
Business Services Specialist-Technical Level III
Phone: (313) 873-7910
Fax Server: (313) 873-5134