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Sarasota Herald Tribune (Florida)
November 2, 2013 Saturday
A; ARCHIVES; Pg. A01
|As coach resigns, questions multiply
CHRIS ANDERSON and KATY BERGEN Staff Writers
STRONG: Seeking certificate, he may have had ex-player write papers, sources say
Manatee High head baseball Coach Dwayne Strong may have paid a former player to write at least two papers as part of his efforts to obtain a professional certificate from the Florida Department of Education, several sources told the Herald-Tribune.
When the coach was unsuccessful at obtaining those credentials, Strong violated state statutes by coaching without a certificate, state and district records show.
Strong, who is being investigated by the Bradenton Police Department pertaining to alleged financial misconduct, resigned Thursday from his positions as coach and in-school suspension teacher at Manatee High.
Strong and athletic director Joe Kinnan did not return calls from the Herald-Tribune for comment on Friday.
The school district confirmed Strong's resignation in a statement released Friday morning.
Superintendent Rick Mills said that an ongoing inquiry into financial and ethical issues surrounding Strong and the baseball team will be completed soon.
Mills said Strong's decision to resign was made between Strong and his attorney.
Manatee High School principal Don Sauer sent an email to Manatee High staff from Strong informing them of the coach's decision.
"At this time I have decided to take my career in a different direction. I have enjoyed my time here at Manatee High School. I want to thank all of you for all your support throughout the six years that I have been here," Strong wrote in the email.
Strong's resignation marks the second high-profile police and district investigation of a Manatee High coach.
Former assistant football coach Rod Frazier resigned from the school shortly after being charged during the summer with seven counts of battery for the alleged groping of Manatee High students and staff. Four administrators have since been charged with failure to report child abuse.
Mills said he would not rule out taking a closer look at the Manatee High athletic administration.
"Do I have concerns? Yes." Mills said Friday. "But I am waiting to see the outcome of the report."
That report will detail why both the Florida Department of Education and the Florida High Schools Athletic Association have been notified of the district's investigation of Strong.
Strong has been the baseball coach at Manatee High since 2007 and also was in charge of in-school suspensions.
According to state statute 1012.55, any person who is employed and renders service as a coach in a public school must possess a valid temporary or professional certificate or an athletic coaching certificate.
Records from the Florida Department of Education and the Manatee County school district show Strong held a temporary certificate in physical education that expired on June 30, 2012. The coaching certificate he held expired on June 30, 2010.
Three sources, who asked for anonymity because of concerns of reprisals from the community or school administration, told the Herald-Tribune that Strong paid a former player to write at least two papers as part of the process to get his professional certification in physical education.
But the former player denies giving Strong any help. "I have no idea about that," Mitchell Shreves said.
Shreves, who graduated in 2011, praised Strong as a coach. "He really turned the program around," Shreves said. "He did everything for his players."
State law says that a coach who voluntarily renders service and is not employed by a school district does not need to hold a certificate of any type.
Strong did not receive a monetary stipend to coach baseball last season, according to the district.
But he was employed at Manatee High as an in-school suspension teacher for an annual salary of $24,784.20.
Coaches must have a certificate if they work for the district, Cheryl Etters, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education, has confirmed.
Strong's resignation letter, dated Oct. 31, 2013, was brief and directed to Sauer, Manatee High's principal.
"I have enjoyed working at Manatee High School however I have decided to pursue other endeavors," Strong said. "I wish the School and the Baseball Team my best."
November 5, 2013