Right or wrong, the school administration was too hasty in making its decision to let go Weston High School basketball coach Mike Hvizdo because of a short film he made a decade ago, and it was wrong not to include parents in the decision.
It’s important to remember there is a difference between opinion and fact. In discussing the resignation/firing of Mr. Hvizdo, it’s easy to become bogged down in rumors, assumptions, and innuendoes; the facts are hard to come by.
Here are the facts as we know them: Mr. Hvizdo was an actor in a short film about 10 years ago. Some administrators saw the movie and found it offensive enough they felt it was inappropriate for Mr. Hvizdo to continue in his position as high school coach. He is no longer the coach.
Those are the undisputed facts regarding Mr. Hvizdo’s loss of his coaching job. In examining just the facts, the situation is disturbing. Here’s why.
School administrators made the decision to let Mr. Hvizdo go based on (they say) a video that they saw but that very few others have seen. Therefore, it is nearly impossible to judge whether their labeling of the video as “inappropriate” is valid. And — even though most would agree that one of the jobs of professional school administrators is to make judgment calls about these kinds of things — it sticks in parents’ craw that they have to take the administrators’ word, with no proof, that this movie was so offensive it warrants getting rid of an otherwise good coach.
Administrators should not have to check with parents every time they make a decision. But when it comes to something as subjective, as emotional and as potentially life-changing (for both the coach and the players) as this, parents — especially the parents of players directly affected — should have been consulted. Beforehand, not after the fact. (It’s not unprecedented: Administrators recently thought about reconfiguring the schools, but asked parents what they thought, and ultimately changed their minds.)
If administrators had come to parents before Mr. Hvizdo was let go, the outcome might have been the same — most parents might have been convinced the coach should move on. However, since administrators didn’t ask for input or share the specifics of their reasoning, parents are suspicious and have a hard time believing the correct decision was made. Here’s why.
Many believe a single parent with a grudge brought the video to the attention of the administration with the sole purpose of getting rid of the coach for reasons other than an objection to the film’s content. Remember: That belief is an assumption, not a fact. However, does that mean it’s irrelevant?
No. Here’s why: Sometimes, motivation matters.
The school administration took a look at the facts — a vulgar video exists, so the coach must go — but not the motivation behind why that film came to light now, 10 years after it was made, and whether that motivation is more important to look at than the film.
If all the parents had been included in the decision to keep Mr. Hvizdo or let him go, they might have been able to make the case that a single person was trying to bully the school district into getting rid of someone he or she had a personal problem with, a problem that had nothing to do with the video. They might have been able to make the argument that Mr. Hvizdo’s character, demeanor, and coaching skills outweigh this particular past indiscretion. They might have been able to express support for rather than condemnation of a man who has made different decisions in his 30s than he did in his 20s, and offer up the situation as a “teachable moment” for their children.
And those arguments might have made a difference in the decision that was ultimately made. Or, it might not have made a difference — it is possible those involved would have still concluded making the film was sufficient reason for letting Mr. Hvizdo go.
But at least all parents’ voices could have been heard beforehand, and all could have moved forward discussing facts instead of assumptions.