TRACY - Following an investigation into complaints made about a Tracy-Milroy-Balaton varsity coach by a number of parents, members of the Tracy Area School Board took action meant to improve communication and relationships between the coach, parents and athletes.
In a 5-4 vote Monday night, school board members decided to place TMB volleyball and girls' basketball coach Katie Gervais on an "assistance plan" by Jan. 3. The plan would be formed with the help of a neutral party, with the goals of improving Gervais' communication and relationships with parents, and teambuilding and improving communication with athletes. Gervais would also co-coach the girls' basketball team for the remainder of the season, said Tracy Superintendent Loy Woelber.
An outside investigation was made after a number of parents of Tracy athletes brought complaints against Gervais to the school board in November. The school district said the investigation, which concluded last week, included interviews with the parents, as well as current and former athletes.
A news release from the school district last week said investigation results could not be released, for data privacy reasons. At Monday's meeting Woelber and school board members said no evidence of legal wrongdoing was found. However, the investigation found areas for improvement that would be addressed by the assistance plan. Woelber recommended the school board approve the proposal.
More than 30 people, including parents and coaches, were in attendance at Monday's meeting. Several had questions for the school board and administrators, but specifics on how the assistance plan and co-coaching would be implemented were not laid out at the meeting.
Woelber said the board could not go into closed session to discuss the issue before taking action. Gervais had requested the matter be discussed in an open meeting.
When asked to give her input, Gervais told board members, "I have already made great strides to improve." She said she was going through with the investigation and improvement process because, "I don't want this to happen to another coach."
School board members didn't give much comment on the assistance plan proposal before voting. The exception was Al Landa, who spoke in support of Gervais.
"This has to come to an end," Landa said of the situation. "I think (Gervais) should continue to coach at this school, and I hope she does."
The school board will review the assistance plan at a June regular meeting, before coaches' contracts are renewed in July. Coaching contracts are not guaranteed from year to year, Woelber said.
Gervais has had two stints as head coach of the volleyball team, from 1995-2005 and from 2008 to the present. During her tenure, the Panthers won Class A titles at the state tournament in 2001 and 2004, and were Section 3A runners-up in 2011.
Gervais' 2011-12 basketball Panthers had a 12-13 record and lost in the sub-section quarterfinals. That was her first year coaching the basketball team.