More on the mess in Moore County

Perhaps you remember me mentioning that Pinecrest shockingly fired Larry Martin, coach of the highly successful boys’ and girls’ soccer teams at the high school.

It seems that some folks aren’t too happy with the school board’s inaction on the matter.

I received a copy of a letter sent to the school superintendent by Mr. Daniel Shay, a former Martin player and current attorney out in San Diego.

It’s interesting, and pretty long. So you can check it out by clicking below…

Greetings Dr. Purser,

The purpose of this e-mail is to ask you to have Mr. Larry Martin reinstated as head soccer coach at Pinecrest High School.

First, please allow me to thank you, the school board and the teachers of Moore County for the services to the community you all bestow. We are aware of the sacrifices made and the fact that sometimes educators are not appreciated enough. I know there is never enough money to do everything, but somehow you make it work year after year. Thank you.

My name is Daniel Shay and I attended Pinecrest from 1992-1996. I had the pleasure of being on the first Pinecrest Soccer Team coached by Mr. Martin and continue to stay in touch with him.

Background
From 1992 to 1995 Pinecrest had three different soccer coaches. During these years we never made it past the first round of the state playoffs and lost more games than we won. Our record was lousy, our skills were subpar and we had no solid leadership from a permanent coach.

More importantly, we had no adult to really stand up for our rights as athletes at a public school. It seemed like no one in the administration truly cared about soccer. In fact, they viewed our program as a threat to other programs like football. Consequently, we practiced on a shabby field with revolving coaches and had poor equipment compared to other school sports.

That all changed when Coach Martin arrived. He made a long term commitment to the team and instituted a program that improved players’ skills and morals as well. He also stood up for our rights as athletes and we finally had representation in the decision making process of Pinecrest. As a result, Pinecrest Soccer improved year after year in all areas. The young athletes on his team became better prepared to be successful in life through strong morals, ethics and athletic ability.

Economics
Modern Economics is the science which studies human behavior as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economics)

While few things are black and white, it is clear that much of the controversy at hand is the result of competition over scarce resources. If we had enough money we could simply build a separate soccer stadium, give more money to football and teachers and buy more supplies and everyone would be happy. However, this is not a reality.

Pinecrest Football has many donors and boosters that are part of the “good ol’ boy network”. Surely these donors and boosters have influence over what happens with Pinecrest sports. Could it be that Coach Martin upset the wrong person and that person exerted pressure on Mr. County to fire Mr. Martin from his coaching position?

Procedural Due Process
Was the correct procedural due process followed when Mr. County deprived Mr. Martin of his coaching position?

Under the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution no one may be deprived of “life, liberty, or property” without fair procedural due process. This protection extends to all government proceedings that can result in an individual’s deprivation including that of a public school coaching position. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Due_process)

State Action requirement
A court will grant relief in litigation in which an individual claims that she/he has been deprived of rights when the deprivation is caused by conduct “fairly attributable” to a government entity. (Lugar v. Edmondson Oil, 1982)

Courts have held that the action of any public school official, in his capacity as such, is state action; thus denial of the right to due process by such official is actionable. (Wong, 1988) (Law for Recreation and Sport Managers, page 434)

Here, Mr. County is a public school official that acted in that capacity when he fired Mr. Martin as Pinecrest soccer coach. Therefore the state action requirement is met.

Standing requirement
A court may grant a review of a public school principals action provided the plaintiff has standing. Standing is a plaintiff’s right to bring a complaint in court. To establish standing a plaintiff must meet three criteria:
1.The plaintiff bringing the action must have sustained an injury in fact. This element is met because Mr. Martin was deprived of his position as Pinecrest soccer coach.
2.The interest that the plaintiff seeks to be protected is one for which the court possesses the power to grant a remedy. This element is met because the court could issue an injunction forcing Pinecrest to give Mr. Martin his coaching position back.
3.The plaintiff must have an interest in the outcome of the case. This element is met because a favorable outcome would allow Mr. Martin to coach Pinecrest soccer again.

It is clear from the analysis above that the required elements are met and the law demands procedural due process be followed with regard to taking Mr. Martin’s coaching position. At a bare minimum, there must have been at least one documented warning from Pinecrest to Mr. Martin concerning egregious actions by Mr. Martin that would amount to a terminatable offense. Mr. Martin tells me that no such warning occurred.

Therefore, the proper procedural due process was not followed by Mr. County when he deprived Mr. Martin of his public school coaching position. Thus, Mr. Martin has the right to compel the court to issue an injunction forcing Pinecrest to allow him to be head soccer coach again.

Morals, Youth and School Officials
While researching Mr. Joel County I found interesting Securities and Exchange Commission records that show Joel County was involved in fraudulent activities as a Fort Collins, Colorado stockbroker in 1990. Go to the below links and read about the legal settlement he struck with Federal courts which left him with a very serious judgment that permanently barred him from further practice in his profession as a stock trader. This outcome led directly to him becoming an educator. For your convenience here are some quotes from the documents;

“The Complaint alleges that County, while an assistant manager at the Fort Collins, Colorado branch office of Power Securities Corporation, implemented a number of fraudulent sales practices…”

http://www.sec.gov/news/digest/1990/dig092890.pdf

“The Commission barred County from association with any broker, dealer, investment company, investment adviser, municipal securities broker or dealer, or governmental securities broker.”

http://www.sec.gov/news/digest/1990/dig102690.pdf

The questions that a principal must answer to apply for employment in North Carolina are below and can be found at http://www.ncpublicschools.org/docs/fbs/personnel/contacts/employment.pdf
1.Have you ever been suspended, dismissed, fired, or discharged from a position of employment? Yes____ No____
2.Have you ever been subject to disciplinary action during a period of employment? Yes____ No____
3.Have you ever been asked to resign from a position of employment? Yes____ No____
4.Have you ever been convicted or pleaded nolo contendere (no contest) to any violation of the law other than a minor traffic ticket? Yes____ No____
Here are some questions Moore County residents are asking;
Did Joel County lie on his application when he applied for a principal position with Moore County Schools?
If he did lie, did the superintendent and school board carry out their responsibilities in terms of checking out his background?
Or, did he tell the truth and the superintendent chose to hire him anyway?
If so, where is the vast experience and superlative employment record that might have allowed or justified Superintendent Purser overlooking his lack of demonstrated character and integrity before he became an educator?
If she hired him with such knowledge, do you agree with Superintendent Purser that this man possesses the integrity and character necessary to effectively lead Pinecrest High School to include his responsibility for shaping and developing the values of 2000 students?
On the other hand we have Mr. Larry Martin that is a retired Marine with model ethics and morals. Mr. Martin instills good sportsmanship, self respect, perseverance, commitment, honesty and a winning attitude in his players and students. These are qualities that every parent wants their child to have.

Unity
One of the tasks The Moore County School Board gave Mr. County when they hired him was to unify Pinecrest. Mr. County says his actions with regard to Coach Martin further this goal. However, there has never been such a public outcry due to firing a Pinecrest coach. The Pilot has numerous articles about the subject and a very long blog about the situation. The North Carolina Soccer Forum has a very long blog about it too and there is a Facebook group with 550 members supporting Mr. Martin.

Closing
Dr. Purser, please do the right thing. Please see that Mr. Martin is reinstated as head soccer coach at Pinecrest. In all my research and discussions, I have found no compelling reason for Mr. County’s action. He says it is a “personnel matter“ and there are documents in Mr. Martin’s file that justify his actions. However, Mr. Martin tells me no such documents exist.

In fact, Mr. County’s action appears to violate Coach Martin’s rights under the Fourteenth Amendment and have caused a great divide in the community. This is ironic when he was tasked to unify Pinecrest. These facts coupled with County’s background cry for change.

If needed, Mr. Martin will exercise all of his rights under the law including, but not limited to, a lawsuit against Moore County Schools for violation of his Fourteenth Amendment rights. How much money will that cost the tax payers? How much will that divide the community?

Now that new facts have arisen in this case concerning everything above, it makes perfect sense for you to change your mind and have Mr. Martin reinstated. It would be totally justifiable and explainable.

Thank you for your time and we look forward to your response. Please feel free to forward this to anyone you like including Mr. County and his attorney.

Daniel Shay
Attorney at Law

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8 Responses to “More on the mess in Moore County”

  1. maca Says:

    very impressive and well written letter. hope things work out over at pincrest for the sake of the kids. they have a good program over there and i hope a solution can be sorted out quickly.

  2. Moore County Soccer Fan Says:

    Three seasons ago a successful and long needed fund raising effort began to restore football in Moore County. It is too bad the Pinecrest administration and football supporters failed to see the beauty of two successful programs at Pinecrest.

    Many believe this decision is really about money (and competing interests in the joint use of the stadium facility). Football may now be able to dominate the stadium but I wonder how future fund raising efforts will be affected?

  3. Norman DeVed Says:

    Incredible that we read this from a Fayetteville paper. Where has Southern Pines local paper “The Pilot” been?

  4. Randy Capps Says:

    They’ve done some reporting on it, but they haven’t gotten much out of County and Purser in terms of any real comment.

    Having worked at two papers similar in size to “The Pilot,” I know how hard it is to work on controversial stories in that environment – especially when the folks involved seemed intent on waiting until the whole thing blows over.

    What bothers me is the fact that, aside from Coach Martin, the only people getting hurt are the players on both the boys’ and girls’ teams.

  5. Drew Martin Says:

    Just over a year ago Pinecrest Principal Joel County said to Coach Martin (quote), “Larry, I will make this all go away if you will resign from coaching women’s soccer and coach track and field instead.”

    A year later he fired him from coaching both men and women’s soccer.

    If this is really a “personnel matter,” as Principal County and Superintendent Susan Purser claim publicly, why is it that Coach Martin was considered fit to coach one sport and not another? Perhaps because track and field does not compete with the football program for money and resources?

    The only reasonable conclusion is that the administration wants to resolve the ongoing conflict at Pinecrest over money and resources (a conflict that began long before Coach Martin arrived 14 years ago) by undermining the chief advocate for the soccer program.

    This firing is not about personnel. It is about money and resources. At the last school board meeting where the firing of Coach Martin was discussed, it was telling to see Principal County sitting beside the chief fundraiser for both the football program and Pinecrest athletics as well as a prominent parent of a football player.

    If all school administrators cared more about kids and less about money this kind of thing would never happen.

    Football and soccer should be able to coexist and share resources. Strong willed soccer and football coaches who fight for the interests of their teams are able to work side by side when they have an administration that actually makes and enforces rules and policies instead of just firing the easier target.

    It is sad – but these days it is unfortunately not that surprising – to see money valued more than a beloved coach, mentor, and community contributor.

  6. Margaret Perez Says:

    Below is an excerpt from a letter I wrote to the Moore County Board of Education when this debacle began:

    “I also believe it is important to note the chain of events leading to the current furor surrounding Pinecrest athletics:

    1. A long-standing soccer program built and maintained by Coach Larry Martin brought pride and respect to Pinecrest from the school itself, the conference in which the school competed and eventually achieved statewide recognition.

    2. The Pinecrest football program became an embarrassment to the school.

    3. Principal Joel County, Superintendent Susan Purser, Coach Christ Metzger and various interested parties in the community threw their full support behind the Pinecrest football program and it began to improve to the delight of the entire community, including most soccer fans.

    4. It somehow came to pass that the football program could not fully achieve the status it sought without the ouster of Coach Martin and some sort of juvenile dominance over the soccer program.

    At it’s lowest point, the Pinecrest football program caused controversy. As it seeks to resurrect itself (with some degree of success) with the full support of the Moore County School’s administration, it is causing controversy.

    The Pinecrest soccer program, built into a program worthy of statewide respect by Coach Larry Martin with NO support from Moore County School’s administration has consistently and impressively brought recognition and admiration to Pinecrest High.

    I beg you to investigate without prejudice the current situation. I also hope you will support reinstating Coach Larry Martin as Pinecrest soccer coach. Our Moore County students desperately need his example.”

  7. Jon Shay Says:

    Margaret – your letter to Dr. Purser & The School Board is WELL DONE. Two days ago I sent a vvery similar message to those people – all I got from Dr. Purser was “Thanks for your thoughts.” Did you get any kind of response from them? E-Mail me back? Thanks, Jon

  8. Margaret Perez Says:

    I never got any reply at all from Principal County. I got the canned response from Dr. Purser once and another assuring me that she has the facts and that she supports Principal County. Replies from the school board members were uniform in that they couldn’t get too involved or comment because they may have to eventually adjudicate the situation.

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