Texas coach says he was fired for not playing principal's son

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by BRETT SHIPP

WFAA

Posted on September 6, 2013 at 10:58 AM

Updated Friday, Sep 6 at 11:00 AM

DALLAS — A former head basketball coach at Skyline High School in Dallas, Texas says he was fired after standing up to his boss, the school's principal.

Stanford Hill says Dallas Independent School District officials upheld his termination, despite what he says is evidence of harassment and retaliation.

Working out and keeping active is important to Hill, because after 29 years of coaching, he still wants to coach again.

Hill, who won a state title at Dallas Roosevelt High School in 2006, lost his job as Skyline's head basketball coach after four years, despite making the playoffs every year — including this past season.

"I was told I was released because of my declining record," Hill said.

His team's record had declined every year since he started at Skyline in 2009 with 15 wins and 17 losses last season.

But Hill believes his firing had more do to with one particular player whose parents, he says, constantly texted and called him about their son.

Many of the texts were casual, like this one:

We+are+fanatics

But other messages had a more threatening tone, like this one from the player's father:

Did [name] do something wrong not to start? He played 6 minutes total.

After the game, Hill got this text:

"This was the day I did not start him," Hill said. "Right after the game, 'I'm waiting to meet with you,' the text read. This is right after we got beat by Pierce, that I did not start her son."

Such a text that would have been easy for most coaches to ignore, but not when it's coming from Hill's boss, Skyline Principal Harold Wright.

"I felt like I had to go out and meet with his wife because he's the principal, and I felt like if I didn't go out and meet with his wife at that particular time then I would probably lose my job the next day," Hill said.

One week later, after another game, Coach Hill said he got this text from Principal Wright:

I'm not pleased

After another game, Hill received this text from Wright:

Calmed+down

Hill said the Wrights were the only parents to send him texts regarding their son and playing time. And no other parent was in a position to fire Hill, which is what Wright did just days after the season was over, and just in time for his son's upcoming senior season.

When Coach Hill filed a grievance alleging retaliation, he was shocked to learn his Level One hearing examiner was none other than his boss — Principal Wright.

Not only did Wright deny his grievance, Hill was denied at all three levels of DISD hearings upon his appeal.

Hill says at no time during the grievance process were the text messages from Wright reviewed or considered.

Wright declined an on-camera interview with News 8, but did issue this statement:

"As principal, I have to make difficult decisions ... that I believe are ultimately in the best interest of all students and student athletes at Skyline High School. I have and always will continue to respect Mr. Hill and I wish him the best."

Nowhere in the statement was there mention of the hundreds of texts regarding his son.

Hill was transferred out of Skyline High School and is now teaching at another DISD school. He says athletic department officials told him that by filing a grievance against a principal, he will never be considered for another coaching job at DISD.

We tried to discuss Hill's case, the text messages, and the grievance process with DISD officials. They declined, saying it's against policy to discuss personnel matters.

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