By JOSH FRIEDMAN
An audit conducted in the aftermath of allegations of mismanagement has abruptly forced the Paso Robles High School football and swimming coaches out of their jobs, though they could possibly get them back.
In recent years, there have been multiple controversies involving the Paso Robles High School football team, including a racy locker room incident and transfer students joining the squad under questionable circumstances. Two head coaches resigned in a span of less than one year.
Then early in the 2017 season, J.R. Reynolds took over coaching duties. Reynolds was later named the high school’s head football coach.
But, Reynolds has now been let go, along with swimming coach Michael Sauret, as a result of a Paso Robles Joint Unified School District audit.
The district conducted an audit analyzing hiring practices for coaching positions over the last four years, as they relate to state education code and school board policy. The audit revealed the hiring of Reynolds and Sauret did not comply with district policy.
Under district policy, qualified teachers employed by Paso Robles Joint Unified must receive preferential treatment in the hiring process. That did not occur when the district hired Reynolds and Sauret, the audit found.
Now, officials are advertising the two vacated positions to district staff members who are teachers. If no qualified teacher candidates apply, the district will open the positions to external applicants.
“This decision is in no way a reflection of the coaching performance of either coach,” the school district stated in a press release. “We are very sorry for the disruption this may cause our athletic programs and the individuals affected by this audit finding.”
Last year, then-superintendent Chris Williams resigned after it was revealed the Paso Robles school district had depleted reserves and an approximately $3 million budget shortfall. Since Williams’ departure, which came with a $113,000 settlement agreement, the district has come under public pressure to investigate fiscal mismanagement and alleged corruption.