Abreu looks at rule for coaches

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By Don Pace

West Las Vegas Superintendent Jim Abreu is looking at the possibility of contracts with new coaches stipulating that if they’re fired as coaches, they lose their teaching positions as well.

However, the West school board seems skeptical of the idea.

Abreu said he was looking at a policy used by other school districts called the “Farmington Clause.”

“I have a copy of the contract used by the Carlsbad school district that they have been using since 1992, but it really originated in Farmington. When you hire coaches, you’re also hiring them as teachers, so the addendum to this contract says if their coaching position goes away, their teaching job also goes away,” Abreu said.

Abreu said after signing the addendum, teacher-coaches no longer have the right to tenure. He said such a policy would have to be passed by the board and would only apply to coaches hired in the future.

The reason some school districts do this is to open up teaching positions for new coaches. What happens sometimes is coaches might be teaching for three years or more, and on that third year, they get tenure. So if the district fires them as coaches, it has to keep them as teachers, Abreu said.

Abreu said problems arise when a district wants to hire a new coach, but it has no teaching positions available.

“Some school districts have no more teaching positions left because all their old coaches are still teaching. That’s why they have began using this Farmington Clause,” Abreu said.

Board member Kenny Lujan said he understood from a recent New Mexico Activities Association meeting that coaching and teaching contracts must be signed separately.

Abreu agreed, but noted that the Farmington Clause ties the teaching and coaching positions into a binding contract.

“So if you let them go as a coach, you let them go as a teacher as well,” Abreu said.

Board President Christine Ludi said, “I don’t know about that.”

Abreu said while the concept might sound bad on the surface, a lot of districts cannot hire a new coach because they have no teaching positions available.

“Because they have a lot of old coaches who are teaching,” Abreu said.

Member Caroline Lopez asked if that wasn’t discriminating against people because of age. Her question was met with laughter from her colleagues.

Lopez laughingly told Abreu, “I’m just giving you a hard time.”

Abreu responded, “I know because I’m an old coach myself.”

Lopez shot back, “And I’m an old teacher.”

Abreu said the issue was purely for discussion.

“But I may bring this to you at some point because as I talk to other superintendents, they say they live and die by this. They say if you hire a coach and they’re a teacher, you better have them sign this contract or you will no longer have teaching positions after awhile for your new coaches.”

Board member Gary Gold said he could see both sides.