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Will Joe Wojcik coach the East boys basketball team, or will it be someone else?

By Michael Beaven Published: June 26, 2013
A settlement reached before Magistrate last week might not be carried out after all.
 
Akron Public Schools Board of Education President Jason A. Haas said Tuesday that Joe Wojcik and former Akron Education Association President Bill Siegferth worked with the APS to reach a settlement this past Thursday to eliminate a possible court case in exchange for a coaching position.
 
Haas said he was surprised by Siegferth’s comments Monday in the Akron Beacon Journal after hearing that Wojcik had been appointed the East High School boys basketball coach.
 
APS Superintendent David W. James recommended Wojcik be issued a supplemental contract to coach at East on Monday at a regular meeting and the seven-member Akron Board of Education agreed. Rhonda Porter, general counsel for the schools, said following the meeting she expected Wojcik to accept the position.
 
Siegferth, who has been involved in the process from the start, said by telephone Monday that Wojcik “right now” will not accept the position.
 
“The two sides were in court before Magistrate on Thursday,” Haas said. “They worked out a settlement.”
 
Haas said a negotiated settlement was reached where Wojcik would drop a lawsuit with several charges against the APS, James, Haas and three unnamed persons; in exchange for the opportunity to coach at East after not having his contract renewed in the summer of 2011 following three seasons as head boys basketball coach at Firestone High School.
 
“Mr. Siegferth said all Mr. Wojcik wanted was an opportunity to coach, well here it is,” Haas said. “I don’t know what they want now.
 
“After the action last night, the district will send Mr. Wojcik a supplemental contract running from July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014. This is his position. If he resigns from the position or declines, we will have to find someone else.”
 
Wojcik did not attend Monday’s meeting and phone calls and voice messages to him were not returned Monday. A phone call and voice message was not returned Tuesday.
 
Wojcik served as coach at Firestone from 2008-2011 and posted a 32-31 overall record. His coaching supplemental contract was not renewed at Firestone in the summer of 2011 following an allegation of a misappropriation of funds.
 
He was later cleared of the allegation after an impartial investigator found the former coach had not taken booster funds. The board rejected that opinion and voted not to reinstate his coaching contract in 2011. Dave Milo has coached Firestone’s boys basketball team for the past two seasons.
 
Wojcik consulted with the AEA and filed a lawsuit against the APS, James, Haas and three unnamed persons for breach of contract, wrongful discharge, defamation and civil conspiracy.
 
Haas said Monday that Wojcik dropped the lawsuit and all of the charges. Porter said the charges were dropped at the meeting Thursday. Wojcik and the teachers union were asking for a judgment in excess of $75,000.
 
Siegferth said by telephone Monday that he believed eight or nine candidates went through an interview process, but Wojcik was not one of them. Siegferth said he suspected that East assistant Chad Hazard had the inside track on being promoted to coach the Dragons in place of Ross Fiorello, who stepped down after this past season.
 
“This is truly a mess,” Siegferth said. “I can not comprehend how they came to this decision.”
 
Wojcik, a graduate of St. Vincent-St. Mary and Mount Union, is a teacher at Ellet High School. He was an assistant coach at Walsh Jesuit and Ellet for one season each, and then was an assistant under Jerry Laria at Garfield for 16 seasons and at Firestone for two seasons.
 
Wojcik took over the Firestone boys basketball program after Laria stepped aside for health reasons following the 2007-2008 season.
 
“As far as I am concerned this is another chapter of a book they have written that is illogical,” Siegferth said. “I can’t understand these people, and when I say these people, I am referring to the board. I think what they have done is totally irresponsible. This should have been settled a long time ago.”
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