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Butler County's great daily newspaper

Coach’s ouster by school board a debacle

It’s one week into the New year and the first year for new school boards as well as many other newly elected people to start providing the community service they were so anxious to provide that they invested their time, money and reputations to get elected.

The first group to face a big challenge of their pledge to be open and transparent to the community and especially the voters who have given them this opportunity will be the Mars Area School Board Directors. There was an almost complete turnover of the membership of this board, so they bear no weight for the previous board, nor do they have any reason not to be clear as glass when it comes to facing the community.

In what looks like a rehash of what transpired in the neighboring Pine-Richland School District one year ago, the board — through Superintendent Dr. Mark Gross — informed 30-year legendary football coach, Scott Heinauer, that his job would be “opened” at this week’s school board meeting. We are sure the board or Dr. Gross will state the claim that this isn’t about wins and losses, but about the kids.

The kids would be the players who have experienced the success of a program that has made the playoffs 19 of the past 20 years, including 16 consecutive years, the kids who see the two WPIAL Championship trophies in the school trophy case and the amazing 203-118 win-loss record of Coach Heinauer.

In the Pine-Richland debacle, it became clear that new board members at P-R had gotten elected with a clear intention of taking down the football coach there who had even better credentials. They were very secretive and kept their agenda muddy as hell in the successful move to oust him from the position. Their new, hand-picked coach lasted through one season of working under that board and the school administration.

We have no idea what has brought this matter to the top of the Mars school board’s agenda, or if it’s their agenda or someone else’s. We know some of the new members of the Mars board to be fine professional and honorable people. We are more than willing to give them the fair opportunity to address this issue.

Hopefully, they won’t be railroaded by the administration or outside influences to hide the real reasons why this is happening at Mars. Did Mr. Heinauer fail to salute the right leader, or maybe he aligned with the wrong faction in the election? Did someone’s son or grandson not get enough playing time?

We don’t know, but we and every citizen in the Mars Area School District have a right to know. We hope the new leadership, elected by the voters, will do the right thing and simply be honest. No games, no politics, just tell the honest truth to the people you swore to serve. Be the shining example you claimed you would be while campaigning. We’re all adults, so be open and truthful, please.

— RV