A high school football coach in Oregon says that he was fired because of his day job, as a police officer.
Ken Duilio, a sergeant for the Portland Police Bureau, was hired to coach the Cleveland High School football program last year, but now he says that the school just told him that they would not renew his contract, Oregonlive reports.
Duilio said that he asked the school district if he was fired because of his day job as a police officer and a school official said “100 percent.”
Portland Public Schools athletic director Marshall Haskins told the media that the district reviews coaching contracts every year by August 1, and they decided to “choose to go in a different direction” for the Cleveland High football program. Haskins refused to answer whether or not the coach’s job as a police officer was a factor in the decision.
Duilio told the media that a whisper campaign to have him fired sprang up after he spoke during a police press conference in June. After the police press event, flyers with Diulio’s face and calling for him to be fired began to appear on telephone poles in the district.
The flyer mentioned two incidents that Diulio was involved with in 2001 when he was a young officer. One incident involved an attack by gang members on police officers. The second concerned a case where Diulio shot a man in the mistaken belief that he was armed and threatening people at a gas station. The officer was cleared of wrongdoing in the shooting.
Duilio told the media that school officials called him in about the flyers and told him to resign because they were facing pressure over his police work. But the officer and coach refused and said to them that if they want him gone, they’ll have to be the ones to make the decision. The next day, the school told him he was out.
The officer called his firing “unjust” and said the school should have “stood up” to those pressuring them to fire him for no legitimate reason.
“I’m at a loss for words, frankly,” Duilio told Oregonlive. “I love working with kids. Potentially, someday I’ll be back. I was committed to the PIL and PPS and city of Portland. It ties into what I do.”
Daryl Turner, president of the Portland Police Association, called the firing an example of discrimination.
“He’s built relationships and partnerships with people and youth in the community. He lives in Portland, raises his family in Portland, and has helped direct dozens of kids who may otherwise be going a different direction were they not playing football,” Turner said. “It is a shame and unfair that they fired him based on the fact that he’s a Portland police officer. It is discriminatory and contrary to what they should be teaching kids in school.”
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