Park High School football coach Bruce Knerr was fired Thursday following reports that a football player was hospitalized from a boxing activity that occurred at a leadership camp, as well as allegations the coach sent inappropriate texts to students.
The Livingston Public Schools Board of Trustees met Thursday evening, voting 9-0 to terminate Knerr effective immediately, said Superintendent Don Viegut.
Knerr exchanged texts with players suggesting he had a sexual interest in the players' high-school age girlfriends and the players' mothers. A sample of some of the texts was handed out at Thursday's board meeting, which was attended by about 75 people.
Knerr said Thursday the texting occurred during times when he was not considered an employee. He is not a teacher.
An incident at an Aug. 11 football team "leadership camp" led to one student being sent to a Spokane, Wash., hospital for reconstructive surgery on his skull. A video purportedly shows Knerr sitting in a school gym while students compete in boxing matches.
“The board is going to consider action on a recommendation to terminate Bruce Knerr as the high school football coach and the assistant track coach," Viegut said before the meeting.
Viegut confirmed that the meeting was called due to "an event where a student was injured" that included boxing matches.
He also said that the district has investigated "inappropriate texting between coach and players." Knerr started coaching at Park High School for the 2015-2016 school year.
Park High Principal Lynne Scalia did not return calls for comment.
The boxing matches have some parents concerned, especially Tim Peterson.
Peterson said that his son, Austin, was taken to Spokane for reconstructive surgery following the boxing matches. The 17-year-old student's skull had five fractures — four to the eye socket and one to the nasal cavity.
"His skull was smashed in a depth of nine millimeters, putting pressure on the brain," Peterson said Thursday.
In a letter to the school board, Peterson wrote that Austin has had two previous concussions, which he claims Knerr knew about. Peterson wrote that he was notified about the injury from another student.
Videos of the boxing matches were shared with The Gazette by a parent. It shows the students fighting with smaller, MMA-style gloves in the St. Mary's Catholic School gymnasium.
St. Mary's Principal Connie Kirchner and Father Leo McDowell both said that the leadership camp was set up by the Park High Football program, and the team was using the school's gym.
The video shows students boxing while others are referees and observers. Two parents identified Knerr as the man sitting on the sideline with a plate of food and a drink throughout the boxing matches. He occasionally gets up to interact with the students.
"School administration has assessed both situations, intends to be fully transparent and intends to take immediate action," Viegut said.