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District Respond to Independence Basketball Resignations

INDEPENDENCE, Iowa (AP) -- A northeast Iowa girls' basketball coach who complained of threats by parents is reconsidering his decision to resign.
   The Independence Community School District says in a statement released Wednesday that head varsity coach Rod Conrad is considering remaining in the position after meeting with district administrators.
   Conrad and assistant coach Rob Ratchford announced earlier they would quit after bullying by some players' parents and other critics of the program.
   Ratchford says some parents threatened to fight the coaches.
   Ratchford doesn't plan to return, but Conrad says in a statement that he's been amazed by the community support since going public about the situation and was giving "serious consideration" to remaining.
   Conrad notes administrators had moved to "tighten up and improve the parent-coach protocol in our district."

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Statement from the District:

The Independence Community School District and the girls basketball coaches are providing the following information to clarify the facts surrounding the alleged resignation of all five coaches.

Contrary to some reports, all of our girls basketball coaches have not resigned from their positions, said Superintendent Jean Peterson.  Last Friday, Head Coach Rod Conrad submitted a letter to Activities Director Rob Arnold expressing his desire to resign.  Conrads resignation was due to frustration with a few parents creating issues for the coaching staff.  However, after several discussions and meetings with the district administration, Coach Conrad is reconsidering his resignation.

I am extremely appreciative of the support that the school board, administration, fellow coaches, community members and my family have provided me, said Head Coach Rod Conrad.  The administration supports me 100%.  The administration is already taking action to further tighten up and improve the parent-coach protocol in our district.  They are now aware of the specific issues that pushed me toward tendering my resignation last week.  Since that time, I am amazed at the amount of community support and encouragement Ive been receiving to remain the Head Coach for the Independence Mustangs girls basketball program.  Based on action plans the administration has been putting in place to improve the situation, Im giving serious consideration to staying on to lead the girls basketball program in the future.  I will likely make my decision by the middle of next week.  Until that time, I will not comment any further on this issue.

Rob Ratchford, one of the assistants, had previously submitted his resignation to pursue other interests according to Activities Director Rob Arnold.  However, the other three assistant coaches, Jessica Weber, Kris Gruber and Alex Jipson, have not resigned from their positions with the girls basketball program.  We have not received any letters of resignation from Jessica, Kris or Alex, said Arnold.

Jessica Weber, one of the assistants alleged to have resigned, was very surprised to see one local news channel reporting that all five coaches were going to resign.  I was actually completely caught off guard when I saw the news story that I had resigned.  That is news to me.  I would love nothing more than to have Coach Conrad remain the head coach, and I want to help him continue improving the girls basketball program, said Weber.  

Kris Gruber, another assistant, was also equally surprised to hear that the media was reporting he would be resigning.  I am shocked at how this is being portrayed through some of the media.  I remain committed to Coach Conrad and the girls basketball program.  We have a lot of supportive parents and it saddens me to see this blown out of proportion, said Gruber, who fully intends to return next season.

In the past year, the administration has implemented a manual outlining the expectations of parents of our athletes in the district.  The administration continues to tighten its protocol for making sure parental complaints are appropriately communicated and handled, said Superintendent Peterson.  

In the past few years, the Independence Community School District has made tremendous strides in several areas, including the construction of a new JR / SR high school, bringing back Agricultural Education and FFA, and improving academic achievement levels.  In the fall of 2013, the Iowa Association of School Boards awarded the Independence Community School District Board of Education with one of three Boards Making a Difference Award for the entire state of Iowa.  

In the first year in the new JR / SR high school, the Mustang wrestling team recently placed 3rd in the State Dual Tournament and the Mustang girls volleyball team made their first ever appearance at the State Tournament.  Board President Brian Eddy stated that the Independence Community School District is proud of the administration, staff and coaches we have in our District.  We have a top notch group of coaches, instructors and educators. Id be hard pressed to find any school district in the nation where a few parents dont express complaints about playing time or have an issue with a coach now and then. That being said, any school district can continue to fine tune and tighten its policies to better itself.  Thats exactly what our school board and administration will continue to do.
 
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