Former Anderson County high school softball coach sues to be reinstated

gkocher1@herald-leader.comJanuary 13, 2014 

LAWRENCEBURG — An Anderson County man who wants to be reinstated as head girls' softball coach at the county high school has sued the school board and Superintendent Sheila Mitchell.

Brian Glass contends there is nothing in an anti-nepotism law that prevents him from working under his brother, Chris Glass, who was promoted last summer to principal of Anderson County High School.

The complaint also identifies as a plaintiff the daughter of Bryan and Jenny Ashby; the girl would have been coached by Brian Glass had he not been re assigned to Anderson County Middle School as an assistant softball coach. (The girl is not identified by name in the complaint.)

David Guarnieri, an attorney for Brian Glass, said the fact that parents were willing to join the suit "just speaks to the consistency and the program that Brian has built there. There are all kinds of folks that want to step up and help Brian keep his position. It's a testament to what Brian has built in Anderson County."

Mitchell says in her response to the suit that the Ashby's daughter "has no standing or right to a particular coach for an athletic program in which she has voluntarily chosen to participate."

Robert Chenoweth and Grant Chenoweth, attorneys for the school board, have filed a motion to have the Ashbys' daughter removed as a plaintiff. The motion is to be heard Wednesday in Anderson Circuit Court.

Furthermore, Mitchell says the complaint by Brian Glass "contains allegations which" he knows or should know are false, and which render his complaint "frivolous, unreasonable, groundless," and should be dismissed.

Robert Chenoweth declined to go into more detail about that. "I'm not going to discuss this litigation in the newspaper. It will unfold as it unfolds," he said.

Brian Glass was a full-time teacher at Anderson County High from 2004 to July 19, 2013. From 2001, when he started as a substitute teacher, to July 19 he served as head girls' softball coach at the school.

The suit says that the school board and Mitchell initially indicated that the promotion of Chris Glass "would have no impact whatsoever" on the ability of Brian Glass to retain his position as head coach.

But some time after Chris Glass accepted the promotion to head principal, "the defendants indicated ... for the first time, that there could be an issue with (Brian) Glass retaining his position as head coach," the suit says.

Defendants filled the assistant principal position at the high school on or about July 18, "thereby precluding Chris Glass from reassuming his former position," the suit says.

Brian Glass learned by letter July 19 for the first time that he was being transferred from his high school teaching position to a teaching position at Anderson County Middle School.

In the notice of re assignment, Brian Glass also learned he was being reassigned to assistant softball coach at the middle school.

"The notice of reassignment was the first indication of any kind given by defendants to (Brian) Glass that his brother's promotion would have an impact on his teaching and coaching duties," the suit says.

The reason given by the defendants for the reassignment was that the transfer was "mandated" by state law, the suit says. The 1990 law says "No principal's relative shall be employed in the principal's school, except a relative who is not the principal's spouse and who was employed in the principal's school during the 1989-90 year."

Brian Glass maintains that the law does not mandate reassignment. To the contrary, the law "makes no mention of coaching positions falling within its requirements and gives no indication that retaining a coaching position under these circumstances would be expressly impermissible," the suit says.

"There are instances throughout the commonwealth of Kentucky since the enactment of the law where a high school principal's family member has served in a head coaching position at the principal's school," the suit says.

The suit says the installation of a head coach other than Brian Glass would "materially detrimentally impact" the Ashbys' daughter and other "similarly situated student softball players at ACHS."

The suit asks for a declaration of rights and a judgment that the law does not prohibit Brian Glass from retaining his position as head coach while his brother is principal at the high school.

Brian Glass notes in court documents that he was not hired by his brother and that he had held the coaching position for 13 years before his brother assumed the position of principal. Furthermore, oversight of Brian Glass's coaching duties can be carried out by Athletic Director Rick Sallee.

The school board's motion to dismiss the complaint notes that the ACHS school-based decision-making council — not the school board — caused Chris Glass to be appointed principal. State law explicitly prohibits a school board from being involved or even attempting to influence specific personnel matters.

In her response, Mitchell said the transfer or reassignment of Brian Glass to middle school for teaching and coaching duties "created no salary or benefits reduction" for the 2013-14 school year.

During his time as head coach, teams led by Brian Glass won two 8th Regional championships and six 30th District titles. He was named 8th Region Coach of the Year in June.

Anderson Circuit Judge Charles Hickman will hear motions in the case Wednesday, attorneys for both sides said. Guarnieri said he would seek injunctive relief so Brian Glass could be reinstated quickly as coach.

"Obviously, if we have to wait and let the lawsuit play out in order for the judge to make a determination as to whether the nepotism statutes apply or not ... the season will be over," Guarnieri said.

Greg Kocher: (859) 231-3305. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety

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