Denver Teachers Strike Impacts Coaching Duties

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Amid a teachers’ strike in Denver, Colo., some high schools in the area will be forced to bring on replacement coaches.

According to The Denver Post, while Denver Public Schools have already announced that all varsity games will be played as scheduled, coaches who are also teachers and are on strike will not be allowed to coach.

“I typed up a practice plan for my freshman coach and my non-paid volunteer coach, and they’re going to run the varsity practice (Monday),” said Thomas Jefferson Spartans varsity coach and striking teacher Grant Laman. “I may have to have our freshman coach at Tuesday’s varsity game.”

As teachers negotiate on wages, basketball season heads into its final week in Denver, leaving many dedicated teacher/coaches in a predicament. 

“If this goes into another week and we’re in the postseason, I’ll have to make a tough decision about whether to cross the picket line,” Laman said. “It would not be to weaken the teachers’ stance, but simply to coach my basketball team in the postseason. My seniors and my team deserve that.”

The challenges differ across schools in the district.

“In girls basketball, all six paid positions and the three volunteer coaches are DPS educators,” said Erin Olson, head coach of girls basketball at Denver North. “One of our two-days-a-week volunteers will coach the C team, and the JV coach has decided to continue to work and coach the JV. For the varsity, we have someone completely unaffiliated with our program who is scheduled to coach the games on Tuesday and Thursday night.

“So during (Tuesday’s) game, the varsity will have somebody who has never attended a practice and never been on our bench as our primary coach. That’s obviously not an ideal situation.”

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