Tonight’s Board of Education meeting has an item scheduled on the agenda that will likely be of interest to parents of student athletes. Wilton High School athletic director Chris McDougal is scheduled to address the BoE regarding parent concerns that have been raised about his department and procedures followed in WHS athletics.

Earlier during this academic school year, parents have spoken out publicly at past Board of Ed. meetings to raise complaints about McDougal and his department. On Nov. 19, 2015 Kyle Lauricella, the parent of a student athlete, addressed the board members and described McDougal as “dismissive” and “indifferent” to parents, and said, “We have examples of the principal and the AD using deceitful and bullying tactics against student athletes in order to further their agenda, to cover up and protect their behavior and avoid accountability and responsibility.” At the Dec. 17, 2015 BoE meeting, another parent spoke during public comment to raise similar concerns.

A copy of the remarks McDougal is scheduled to make at this evening’s BoE meeting are included with the meeting’s agenda posted in advance on the district website. In it he states that he wants “to acknowledge these concerns and address them in a direct and open manner.” He adds that his remarks will lay out his “plan to frame and address the concerns hat have been raised and determine where improvements are needed,” and will present solutions.

McDougal identifies four areas of focus that he wants to address:

  1. Vision for the athletic program
  2. High standards for all coaches, players, parents and spectators
  3. Consistent application of standard operating procedures across all teams
  4. Promotion of a culture of respect in the athletic program

Among some of the notable passages:

  • In his description about standards for coaches, McDougal writes that not only should programs “never interfere with opportunities for academic success,” but also that, “Each student-athlete should be treated as though he or she were the coach’s own child, and his or her welfare should be paramount at all times.”
  • McDougal writes that since concerns have been brought to the BoE, his department has been “conducting a review of current standard operating procedures (SOP).” As a result he has been developing formal procedures to “guide decisions made within the athletic department,” and which will be effective beginning with the 2016-2017 academic year. Those SOPs he is developing cover:
    • Process for recruiting/hiring coaches
    • Evaluation, retention and/or dismissal process of a coach
    • Procedures for selecting captains
    • Communication protocols with families
    • Recognition and selection of student athletes for awards
    • Procedures for resolving conflicts

One specific action item McDougal spells out is his plan to form a “WHS Athletics Steering Committee.” He writes that the committee will be “comprised of student-athletes, coaches, parents, community members, and the athletic director.” As part of the committee’s responsibility, the members will redesign the Athletic Handbook and the Coaches Handbook.

McDougal’s written remarks are available on the district website. The Board of Education meeting is scheduled to take place this evening (Thursday, March 10) at 7 p.m. in the Wilton High School Professional Library. Members of the public may attend the meeting in person, and can also view the meeting on Ch. 78 or streaming live on the district’s website as well.