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Valley Academy Arts & Sciences High head baseball coach James McFadden was let go via Zoom call on June 30.
“I was told there was a complaint filed that (administration) felt was credible and told me they had to let me go,” McFadden said. “Totally out of left field.”
The school, part of the Los Angeles Unified School District, received the complaint on June 22, however, contents of the complaint are still unknown, even to McFadden.
“It’s leaving the whole program with questions,” said McFadden.
Barbara Jones from the LAUSD Office of Communications and Media Relations replied on behalf of VAAS principal Kelly Hanok to a Daily News email inquiring on the dismissal of McFadden saying, “All personnel matters are confidential.”
Since McFadden’s removal, VAAS baseball parents and players (past and present) have made efforts to get McFadden reinstated. A petition signed by over 500 people (as of July 8) was created, and a Zoom conference call with parents, players and principal Hanok was held Tuesday night (July 7).
According to multiple members of the VAAS baseball community, not a lot of questions were answered.
“Questions remain,” baseball dad Justin Lowman said, whose sons Jack and Joe play for McFadden. “The call was shorter than I anticipated for such a serious matter. I’m very disappointed. My two boys had a very positive experience with (James) McFadden.”
Lowman started the petition for McFadden’s reinstatement.
“He’s a fantastic coach and want to see him back,” Lowman said. “The amount of signatures on the petition is impressive. A lot more than I thought it would get.”
McFadden restarted the program in 2017 and led the Vipers to a City Section Division III title that same year before lifting the Division II City crown in 2019.
Senior-to-be Andres Castellanos has been a varsity player since he was a freshman and played third base on the 2019 City championship team, hitting .347 with 25 hits and 18 RBIs as a sophomore that season. Castellanos said he is hoping McFadden is reinstated and will be the Vipers coach in 2021.
“I was mind blown when they fired him,” Castellanos said. “It’s really sad knowing (McFadden) might not be my coach my senior year.”
Castellanos said he felt many of the questions about McFadden were “danced around” on the Zoom call with school administrators.
“They kept saying the information was confidential, stuff like that,” he said. “I understood, but it’s still very frustrating.”
McFadden is among some LAUSD coaches let go since May – along with David Kaczor (Chatsworth baseball) and Don Loperena (Granada Hills Charter boys basketball) – to be removed from their position without explanation as to why to their respective programs.
High school coaches are at-will employees and need no reason to be relieved of their duties, but many of these decisions leave parents and players asking a fair question: Why?