An Oregon high school football coach says the school fired him from his position because he is a sergeant with the Portland Police Department.
What are the details?
Sergeant Ken Duilio, who began coaching the football team at Cleveland High School in 2019, said that the school let him go after reportedly caving to critics over his position at the department.
According to The Oregonian, Duilio — who has been on the force for the last 23 years — said activists pressured the school to remove him as coach via flyers which detailed two use-of-force incidents that reportedly took place more than two decades ago.
A 2001 incident featured a gang-related attack on Duilio and two fellow officers. The attack resulted in the hospitalization of two of the other police officers. Duilio was uninjured in the incident.
A second incident, which also took place in 2001, saw Duilio mistakenly shoot a man who he believed to be a suspect. It turned out that the man was a Good Samaritan who had managed to disarm a man with a gun at a local convenience store.
The victim survived the shot and received a $200,000 settlement. Despite the accident, a Multnomah County grand jury found no criminal wrongdoing with regard to Duilio’s actions.
The flyers apparently garnered enough attention that the district was forced to call him in for a conference to discuss the incidents mentioned in the flyers.
Duilio said that when he showed up for the conference, it was apparent that the administration had made up its mind regarding his future with the football team, and was only seeking him out as a formality.
He said that the district told him that they “didn’t see a path moving forward because of pressure they’re getting” over the flyers and his June remarks.
Resign or be fired?
The district reportedly asked Duilio to resign on two occasions, but he said he refused both times.
Last week, Portland Public Schools Athletic Director Marshall Haskins told Duilio that the district would not be renewing his coaching contract at the high school.
Haskins told the outlet that Duilio’s remarks or his being a police officer had nothing to do with the decision — it was as simple as the district deciding to “go in a different direction.”
“We don’t make decisions based on pressure from parents or outside people,” Haskins insisted in a statement to the paper.
Duilio, however, begs to differ.
“It’s unjust from whoever is leading this,” he told the outlet. “[Portland Public Schools] still had a role in it. They could have stood up to them.”
“I’m at a loss for words, frankly,” he said. “I love working with the kids. … Potentially, someday, I’ll be back.”