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Palm Beach Post (Florida)

 

Ousted Boca Raton boys basketball coach Max Spinner has filed a lawsuit against the Palm Beach County School District and the school's athletic director and principal.

In the lawsuit, Spinner claims he was wrongfully terminated as the Bobcats' head coach earlier this month, and wants his name cleared and his job back.

He was suspended Nov. 10, then dismissed Dec. 4 for holding an open gym session at the school on Sept. 20.

According to the lawsuit, Boca Raton claimed the session violated Florida High School Athletic Association policy that requires open gyms be made available to all students who attend the school. In addition, the school claimed the session violated another FHSAA policy that states school personnel must not provide instruction during the practice.

Spinner disputes that any violations occurred.

He claims he asked for, and received, permission from interim Athletic Director Moody Fuller to hold the open gym session. The school also sent a school district employee to oversee it.

Spinner also claims he did not provide any instruction during the practice, suggesting only that the players warm up in order to avoid injury. The practice consisted of a warmup session and a scrimmage.

The school self-reported the violations to the FHSAA, which later issued fines that totaled $5,000 for those violations, plus another $9,000 for an open facilities violation involving the Bobcats' football team earlier this year.

The earlier fine, issued May 30, had been suspended by the FHSAA provided that no other violations occurred over a 13-month period.

In addition to the fines, the FHSAA placed the school on administrative probation through June 30, 2019, and Boca Raton also received a reprimand.

The school district declined comment on the lawsuit Wednesday, though a spokeswoman said Spinner -- at-will employee -- violated district policy at the open gym by using the Boca Raton High School logo on the front of a T-shirt that was advertising his club basketball program.

Spinner, who has coached the Bobcats for four seasons, remains a teacher at the school.

"The people who are affected most significantly by this is the kids, especially when they have a relationship with the coach," said Spinner's attorney, Patrick Lawlor. "You look at why they're released, and see that the reasons are not justified. The kids are the forgotten ones."

jwagner@pbpost.com Twitter: @JRWagner5

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