Reschert's ‘image' not befitting a Viking AD?

June 14, 2002|By RICHARD MONTENEGRO, Sports Editor

HOLTVILLE — Thursday marked the end of longtime coach and educator John Reschert's three-year tenure as athletic director of Holtville High School.

It isn't clear why Reschert won't be coming back. A personnel decision reached at the high school and district levels, any reasons for his ouster aren't subject to public record.

What is clear is Reschert's departure is not by his choosing. In fact, Reschert claims he doesn't even know why he's being forced from a position he loves. Further, he claims he was told by district officials his "image" wasn't befitting the school.

"I'm being replaced and the only reason I got was my image," he said. "I was told it was not because I wasn't doing a good job."


When the 59-year-old Reschert asked from where the decision came, he said Holtville Unified School District Superintendent Pat Maruca told him it was a Board of Trustees decision. When he asked the board, he said its membership told him it was an administrative decision.

"I feel after putting in 33 years (in the district), and knowing members of the board personally, I feel kind of betrayed a little bit," he said.

Reschert will return in the fall to his job as a full-time teacher.

Maruca said Thursday she did have a conversation with Reschert when the decision was made and said he was told of the reasons for his replacement. Citing personnel issues, Maruca wouldn't explain further. She said it wasn't a disciplinary action.

Reschert, in recent years an art teacher and boys varsity golf coach at Holtville High in addition to his AD responsibilities, said he can recall one situation this past football season that ruffled some feathers and may be at the center of this maelstrom.

During a varsity game a Holtville High player had a heated exchange with a referee on the field. In an effort to save the boy from getting ejected, Reschert claims, he grabbed the boy by the arm and forcibly yanked him from the game and off the field.

"I felt that was my responsibility as an athletic director," he said.

Reschert added he was next accused of "corporal punishment" following the incident, although he did not say by whom.

Still, he said, when he explained his position he was told it was "no big deal" by the superintendent and the board.

When asked about Reschert's story, Maruca said, "I don't think the word corporal punishment is appropriate."

While Maruca would not connect that situation with the district's decision to replace Reschert, she said, "Hundreds of spectators saw the thing."

Maruca was asked if there may have been any pressure put on the district to act against Reschert following the incident on the football field, or if any litigation against the district was threatened as a result.

She responded, "I think there was potential, possible future incidences … There was not any one particular incident …"

Finally, Maruca said, "It wasn't one incident related to that particular incident he's referring to."

Maruca was quick to praise Reschert's service to the district and acknowledged how difficult the decision was to let him go.

"John has done an outstanding job for us. It wasn't a decision that was easily made. … In my dealings with John in the last six months, he's very cooperative and helped the district in any way he could."

She characterized Reschert as a loyal employee. Maruca added she'd be willing to again sit down with Reschert and go over the reasons for his replacement.

The application deadline for the Holtville AD post was Thursday. Maruca said candidates could be brought before the school board by June 27.

As for Reschert, he's bitter. He said it will likely be difficult to report for work come fall and work for the people he thinks betrayed him.

"It will be very difficult for me to work with the administration and the board," he said. "Every time they asked me to do something, I've done it."

He added he's long been seen as an authoritarian, much in the style of former Holtville AD Jan Anderson.

"She would hold officials accountable to her. I hold them accountable to me. Maybe that got some people upset," he said.

"I'm not out there trying to get sympathy for this," Reschert said. "It would just have been nicer for them to explain to me why. The image thing gets me. It's a big question mark — why?"

When asked if he would have done anything differently, namely the situation on the football field, he said: "Hindsight tells me to cover your tail, don't try to protect your kids or somebody's going to get in trouble."

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