During a special meeting of Palisades High’s Board of Trustees on Friday, more than 20 baseball players, parents and teachers stepped forward during a public comment period to voice support for Coach Mike Voelkel, who announced his resignation on Thursday for “personal reasons.”
The meeting was called so that board members could go into closed session after the public comment period to discuss “anticipated litigation,” according to the agenda.
Voelkel said he decided to resign Monday after athletic officials told him that the board’s legal representative had recommended reinstatement of a player he had removed from the team for violation of the code of conduct. At Friday’s meeting, the board chairwoman, Allison Holdorff Polhill, said no decision had been made about reinstating the player.
The father of the player removed for violating a no-alcohol policy on the team, said in his two-minute comment: “We never threatened litigation. We never said the coach should be fired. We never said the coach should resign. We just asked for fairness in application of the policy.”
Near the end of the nearly one hour of comment, an emotional Johnny Dietsch, a sophomore pitcher, broke down sobbing as he tried to express his support for Voelkel, who was in his seventh season as coach.
“I learned from Coach Voelkel honesty and integrity,” he said, holding his face. “I’ve learned so much from him. He’s like a second father to me. I want to let him know I will never forget who he is. He’s impacted my life so much.”
The board adjourned into closed session, with Holdorff Polhill saying the board would address issues involving “after school sports” and its “school wide eligibility rules.”