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June 5, 2019 — Despicable at best, illegal at worst

Oak Bluffs Martha’s Vineyard Regional (Mass.) is a school with a fair-to-middling athletics program, having won five football state championships, a pair of boys’ tennis titles, two girls’ basketball championships, and the boys’ ice hockey state title on two occasions.

Aside from hard work, dedication, and good coaching, one of the keys to the Vineyarders’ success over the years is a home-field advantage like no other. Opposing teams are obligated to take a five-mile ferry ride from the mainland to get to the 96-square-mile island.

(Of course, one might also consider it a disadvantage for Martha’s Vineyard teams having to travel half of the time, but that is a blog entry for another time).

This spring, the school’s girls’ lacrosse team finished its regular season with a record of 18 wins and one defeat, which puts the Vineyarders’ in the top seed of MIAA Division 2 South’s state tournament bracket. And as the team with the best record in all four brackets coming off the regular season, Martha’s Vineyard has shown itself to be a hot favorite to win state honors.

But just before tomorrow’s second-round game against Milton Fontbonne Academy (Mass.), the school fired head coach Kurstin Moore and assistant head coach Bob Hayman for violations of school policy, according to news sources.

Reports from the Martha’s Vineyard Times were clarified a day later, with athletic director Mark McCarthy telling the journal that the two were suspended. The Times pursued a line of questioning about a purported alcohol-related incident involving Senior Skip Day, but were only able to confirm that individuals on the team were facing discipline in the matter.

Your Founder has heard all sorts of reasons for why school districts have taken measures to fire coaches. And you’ll excuse me if I see this situation through a different lens from most.

I’ve seen parents try to engineer the firing of high-school coaches because their kids don’t receive playing time. Or when the team gets too ambitious about its playing schedule. Or, especially, if a coach asks for equal practice and accommodations in comparison to the boys’ team.

In this situation, there is an enormous fly in the narrative ointment: Moore gave birth around the time that first reports of her firing hit the news. This puts McCarthy in a very dangerous situation. The original news report said that Moore and Hayman were fired because of violations of school policy regarding school attendance and practice policies.

It turns out that Moore was giving birth.

How that act somehow became a “violation” flies in the face of settled law regarding both state and federal Family and Medical Leave Act legislation.

But, we can’t let go the detail about the alcohol — not only because it is illegal for minors to possess, but because alcohol has been used by predatory adults to groom children for sexual activity.

I think there’s a lot more to this story, and I think we’ll get to know more in the coming days.

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