Coach reinstated after confrontation with Kitna

Photo rovided by The Ennis News.
Micah Fletcher

WAXAHACHIE — (Reprinted with permission from The Ennis News / Mark Warde) — An ill-fated attempt to frame a coach who was a witness of another coach’s discipline gone-bad approach led to his being bullied and stripped of his rank. Fearless, he fought legally and this month was restored to his job. But there was a clause.

The offending side would plead not guilty for preceding events and to retain his position he must resign at the end of the year. Sounds like a Law and Order plot for Jack McCoy.

“I only wanted to do what was right,” said Micah Fletcher, 40, the Finley Junior High School athletic coordinator and head coach of both football and track and field. The lifelong Waxahachie native filed a report about what he witnessed first hand. What followed should have come with witness protection.

Fletcher would experience heat that was not new nor unusual. Since the big splash hire of head football coach Jon Kitna in January of 2015, the number of coaches who left or were reportedly ousted has reached approximately 22. Some chose to leave rather than challenge Kitna and his entourage of incoming coaches.

An email from one former coach, Willie Rash, was a case in point. Now the offensive coordinator at Corsicana, the 53-year old is as a well-respected, successful football assistant and head track coach. In fact, under his leadership Waxahachie finished second in the state two years ago.

“I was called in by Greg Reed (athletic director) and told to resign by Friday or I would be fired,” he wrote. “I asked why and was told that Jon Kitna did not want me coaching football. I was the head track coach also, and I was being fired from that as well, even though my team was second at the state meet.

“I was told to talk to Kitna and when I did he told me he wanted to hire a younger coach. He said he “wanted a younger and more energetic coach.” This was a couple of weeks after I reported to Kitna that his brother (Matt Kitna) was not doing his job as an assistant track coach.”

A Feb. 21 incident between former varsity football assistant coach, Evan Brady, and a junior high student precipitated things. Brady was one of several coaches who came with Kitna when he was hired from Lincoln H.S. in Washington.

On the day in question he said that Coach Brady was talking to a track team member at the end of practice. “When the student turned away from making eye contact with the coach,” he said, “Brady put his right hand on the student’s jaw to get his attention. Instead, the student looked away again and Brady grabbed him by the shoulder to correct his refusal to pay attention.

“He said “I don’t care what’s going on, you look at a coach when he’s talking. You respond with “Yes, coach, nothing else. You don’t jerk away when I’m correcting you.”

“The student later said he turned away because he didn’t want to look directly in the sunlight.” He questioned me why the coach would put his hands on him.”

Fletcher reported the event to Reed and his campus principal, as his chain of command requires. He indicated that Kitna later sought to have him report to him first.

Brady had two other more physical encounters with athletes, one leading to a player passing out and going to the hospital, which led to his resignation and a host of attempts by Kitna to have the school board reinstate him. They voted 5-2 against the move. Next came a luckless campaign by Kitna’s family and Superintendent Jeremy Glenn’s daughter for new board members who might sway the vote in Brady’s favor. Photos, social media posts and events, including a protest against one veteran board member, Kim Kriegel, who ran for re-election, showed what could easily be interpreted as a clear lack of objectivity. It failed to produce a quorum on the board.

Fletcher’s report prompted several encounters he termed intimidation tactics by Kitna to get his way. Verbal confrontations included profanity as stated by Fletcher in his reports. As a result, in a text message received through an open records request, a dialogue between Kitna and reportedly, Reed, the A.D., was discovered.

Reed opened by saying, “I believe we need a meeting with Micah,” to which Kitna responded emphatically. “You and I need to go over to Finley in the morning at 7:45… meet with all of them. He has to go or I’m out.” The short conversation ended with Reed asking if Kitna has done a coaching evaluation on Fletcher.

That evaluation was done by Kitna, and was full with criticisms. Fletcher questioned how the claims could be made when few, if any observations were done. Sources claim there are emails, attorney files and records, including high praise for him until he came forward with the complaint about Brady.

In the months following the February 21st incident there were events that led Fletcher to file three grievances, one of them for a reprimand he received on May 15 from Reed that indicated an investigation had been done and that he was no longer the athletic coordinator at Finley. He was being reassigned to a lesser role to be determined at a later date.

In it he was told to “refrain from falsifying, embellishing and misrepresenting information that is misleading.” To this day Fletcher says no proof has been given of those actions.

There were other meetings, open records were requested and legal counsel was gained by Fletcher.

On Sept. 12 a resolution was upon and he signed what he felt was best for his family and met with Reed and Finley principal Adan Casas. In an email from Glenn, sent to Reed, Casas and Fletcher, it was announced he was being fully reinstated to all of his previous duties and responsibilities, with Glenn encouraging a smooth transition.

The resolution agreement begins with his reinstatement, including pay scale prior to the reprimand and coaching evaluation, both of which will no longer be included in his personnel file. It also states the agreement is a compromise and settlement and that the Waxahachie Independent School District does not admit liability for previous incidents.

His position is through the new school year, which is effective until June 4, 2018, when his signed resignation becomes official. As part of the resolution agreement, the WISD School Board Trustees have the option to rescend Coach Fletcher's resignation, which he hopes they do.

Reed passed on the opportunity to respond to questions from The Ennis News.

Jenny Bridges, director of public relations, instead issued a statement that Dr. Glenn told the Waxahachie Daily Light, “The district is now putting the situation behind us, and we are looking to move forward. Right now, we want our primary focus to be on the kids, not just at Finley, but across the district. The district plans to honor its part of the resolution agreement and believes that the agreement fairly ends this situation for both parties.”

Fletcher acknowledged the many good things Kitna has done for players and the program.

In 2+ years as the Indians head coach, Kitna has a 14-10 overall record with two fifth place finishes in District 10-5A (6-9 record). He has no playoff berths, though he has not lost to Ennis.

Reprinted with permission from The Ennis News. We would like to thank Mark Warde and The Ennis News for granting Ellis County Citizen permission to reprint their article.