WAXAHACHIE — “He has to go, or I’m out” reads the text message sent from Waxahachie head football coach Jon Kitna to Waxahachie ISD Athletic Director Greg Reed fewer than 24 hours before a junior high coordinator says he was blindsided and later repositioned.
Micah Fletcher received a reprimand from Reed for his alleged actions two days later. It was also because of the reprimand that Fletcher first learned of a half-completed — and largely negative — coaching assessment signed and completed by Kitna on May 8.
Fletcher joined the district in 2016 after 10 years as a teacher and coach at Ferris, Dallas Molina, Life Oak Cliff, and Itasca High Schools. He enlisted in the United States Army in 2003 and was twice deployed overseas — Iraq in 2004 and Afghanistan during the 2012-13 school year. During his time in the active military, Fletcher served as a CAV scout, translator, and joint fire operator. He also became a commissioned artillery officer in the Army National Guard in 2009, where he was most recently deployed to south Texas for Hurricane Harvey relief.
Fletcher has since resigned his position as the boys’ athletic coordinator, head football and track coach at Eddie Finley Junior High School in accordance with a resolution reached between the district and Fletcher’s legal counsel. The agreement was signed Sept. 12 after Fletcher escalated his initial level-one grievance to level three. His resignation is effective June 4, 2018.
“Unfortunately, during my time with WISD, I have encountered multiple personal conflicts between myself and coach Jon Kitna,” stated Fletcher in his resignation. “These conflicts began following the unfortunate departure of another coach within the district in the spring of 2017. Since the spring of 2017, coach Kitna has had inappropriate and unprofessional encounters with myself on several occasions which ultimately resulted in multiple grievances being filed and reaching level-three with the district.”
In the resolution, Fletcher agreed to release the district and the WISD Board of Trustees from any and all liabilities, suits, claims, and causes of action of every kind and character whatsoever from any time or action that occurred before Sept. 12. It also notes the superintendent and athletic director will have the option to accept or reject the resignation at the end of the school year.
“The district is now putting the situation behind us and we are looking to move forward,” stated Waxahachie ISD Superintendent Dr. Jeremy Glenn. “Right now, we want our primary focus to be on the kids, and 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.”
THE FINAL STRAW
Reed and Kitna, based on a text message conversation provided by WISD officials to Fletcher and his legal counsel, agreed to meet with Fletcher and an assistant junior high coach on May 12 at the Finley field house. The two also agreed to not inform Fletcher of the meeting beforehand.
During that meeting, according to district documents, Reed questioned both Fletcher and the assistant coach about the May 10 incident. A level-two grievance filed by Fletcher states the assistant football coach, who will remain unnamed due to his continued employment with the district, recalled the conversation between him and Fletcher two days prior.
“Fletcher came up to me and said he has some bad news. He said ‘I would not have full PE classes because Kitna said that I wasn’t a team player and that I wasn’t all in,” said the coach according to the WISD level-two appeal decision signed by WISD Deputy Superintendent of Human Resources Lee Auvenshine. It adds that the coach then confronted Kitna the following day and the third-year Waxahachie head football coach denied ever making the claims. The assistant coach also confronted Finley Junior High principal Adan Casas who did the same.
“The meeting did not feel right,” said the assistant football coach to the Daily Light. “I still don’t know who is right and who is wrong. I just wanted to know why someone thought I wasn’t a ‘team player’ or ‘all-in’ because I take a lot of pride in my job both in the classroom and on the field. The meeting wasn’t very productive.”
In a statement issued by Fletcher, he corroborated the conversation — verbatim — with the assistant coach and also claims Kitna verbally attacked him in a threatening tone during the meeting and several times accused him of lying.
“The conversation was quickly escalated by Mr. Kitna when he loudly and abruptly stated, ‘What the hell, why do you keep lying? You’re lying now. You lied about Ronnie Allen, no one ever heard him say those things. You lied about coach [Evan] Brady,’” stated Fletcher of the meeting after he claimed to have never told the Finley assistant coach that Kitna made disparaging comments about him.
“At this point, I felt bullied, threatened and that I was in a hostile work environment due to Mr. Kitna. He spoke to me in a completely unacceptable and unprofessional way,” Fletcher added after he recalled another short exchange between the two.
The district contends the reprimand is not directly related to a singular and isolated incident, nor is it connected to any ill will that could be between Kitna and Fletcher.
“Reed documented events throughout the year regarding Mr. Fletcher,” reads section D of the level-two appeal decision. “These events included: Mr. Fletcher not following Mr. Reed’s directive to place the Finley Junior High School team on the correct sideline with cool zone fans to ensure students safety on September 19, 2016; Mr. Fletcher failing to follow the business office’s protocols regarding the handling of fundraiser funds on April 26, 2017; and Mr. Fletcher failing to follow the business office’s protocols regarding the submission of purchase orders on May 2.”
In the level-one grievance decision signed by Reed, he recognizes that Fletcher felt “targeted and attacked at the (May 12) meeting and the Mr. Kitna elevated his voice and directed profanity toward him. It is the position of Mr. Fletcher that Mr. Kitna made unsubstantiated accusations about his character and continually called him a liar.”
However, Reed also explains “the decision to reassign Mr. Fletcher was made by [me] in the best interest of the district and the athletic department.”
“The event involving Mr. Fletcher and [the assistant coach] revealed a significant pattern of poor judgment and decision making. The decision of reassignment was preceded by meetings, emails and personal conversations with Mr. Fletcher that addressed directives not followed and instances of communication that were both divisive and distortions of the truth.”
Reed also cities WISD Board Policy DK (local), which states “all personnel are employed subject to assignment and reassignment by the superintendent or designee when the superintendent determines that the assignment or reassignment is in the best interest of the district.”
Fletcher, though, contends the reprimand was in direct relation to a series of events involving Kitna — all of which began after he reported to Reed that former Waxahachie defensive coordinator Evan Brady inappropriately grabbed a student after a track practice.
FEB. 21 INCIDENT
The initial incident in question occurred Feb. 21. Fletcher then delivered a sworn statement of the event to Reed’s office on March 22.
“The altercation happened as follows: as the team was beginning to ‘break it out’ at the conclusion of practice coach Brady noticed that the student appeared to not be looking up/making eye contact while coach Brady was talking,” wrote Fletcher in his grievance. “Coach Brady then placed his right hand onto the student’s chin/jaw area to lift up his face. The student, in response, to his hand on his face, then jerked his head away and turned it to the side. Coach Brady then grabbed the student by the shoulder and pulled him aside and began to question the student as to why he was not looking at him. The student responded that he was turning his head away because the sun was shining in his eyes and he couldn’t see well.”
Fletcher added, “Coach Brady continued saying to the student, ‘you respond with ‘yes, coach,’ nothing else (and) you don’t jerk away when I’m correcting you.’”
Fletcher states Brady then left from Finley and returned to the high school. Fletcher also explained that he (Fletcher) then talked with the student to make sure he knew why he was disciplined, to which the student stated, “no coach or teacher should put their hands on me. I don’t understand why he did that to me. I was just trying to look away from the sun.’”
Brady later resigned from the district on March 23 after an incident involving him and a student resulted in an injury to the student-athlete.
“The safety and security of our students is our number one priority,” stated WISD Director of Public Relations Jenny Bridges in a previous Daily Light article. “Anytime there is an incident where a student is involved we will investigate thoroughly and to the fullest extent.”
Fifteen days after he submitted the sworn statement, Glenn and Auvenshine met with Fletcher. During the meeting, audio recordings provided to the Daily Light state Fletcher was reassured of his position with the district. He was also commended for the way he handled the situation — both by Glenn and Auvenshine.
“No one is ever going to suffer any kind of retaliation for making a….,” said Auvenshine before being cut off by Fletcher.
“Yeah, and I’m not saying that. No, no, no,” Fletcher said.
Auvenshine added, before Glenn cuts in, “We want you to report when things are bothering you to the principal, to the athletic director…”
“Yeah, no, absolutely. Truly, truly, you were right to report today. Everything you’ve done is right. You report to Adan [Casas, Finley principal]. You report to Greg (Reed),” Glenn stated. “[…] No one is ever going to get rid of you and you’re not going to suffer any retaliation at all for doing the right thing, ever.”
ROAD TO REPRIMAND
The day after he first notified district officials of the Feb. 21 incident, Fletcher states in his level-two that he felt “intimidated” by Kitna during practice. He added the head football coach had not previously attended a practice or ever previously concerned himself with the coaching techniques of Fletcher.
“This was an unusual event because, to my knowledge, Mr. Kitna had not attended or visited any other practices during the school year at Finley,” stated Fletcher in his level-one grievance. “[…] I began practice as usual, and while working with students, I noticed that Mr. Kitna was following me around and watching my every move but he never engaged in conversation with me at this time.”
He added, “At the conclusion of practice, coach Brady and [another coach] approached me and coach Brady questioned me by stating that he and Jon wanted to know if I ‘had a problem with him.’”
Fletcher said he did not but did have an issue with the actions of Brady on Feb. 21.
A little over one month later, on March 23, Fletcher claims he encountered Kitna while at a Lumpkins Stadium for a junior high track meet.
He states that as he left the meeting room, he heard Kitna call out for him and again speak in a derogatory tone in reference to the Feb. 21 incident.
WISD documents show that Kitna and Reed began a text-message conversation on May 9. In the short exchange, Kitna states, “he has to go, or I’m out.”
“[…] I don’t want him to be able to prepare his lies anymore,” one of the texts reads after the two agree to meet at 7:45 a.m. at the Finley Junior High field house. The two also decided to not inform Fletcher of the meeting beforehand.
“Have you already done the coaching evals (sic) for [a coach] and Micah,” reads a text, presumably from Reed, that indicates the athletic director had not yet seen a coaching evaluation completed by Kitna for Fletcher.
The evaluation, which is not the T-TESS teacher evaluation formally recognized by the district, concludes with Kitna stating he felt Fletcher “did well in the area of facilities and equipment. I know he attends clinics often.” Kitna also added that areas of concern included “refusal to report to head coach with team happenings,” “did not handle finances properly,” “inconsistent recollection of incidents,” “too often operated outside our base system” and “inconsistent attendance and punctuality at practices.”
Fletcher rebuts all claims.
“I’m hoping that the truth comes out and the school board and administration ultimately rescind by resignation,” said Fletcher on Tuesday. “I want to continue my career here in my hometown and with WISD.”
*Editor’s note: Names of coaches still with the district were removed. The Daily Light editorial team does not feel the inclusion of their names would provide any additional news value.