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Bellevue High coach says district trying to fire him over ‘new … unfounded allegation’

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BELLEVUE, Wash. -- The Bellevue High School football coach said Thursday that the school district has recommended to the school board that they fire him.

The move comes in the wake of a independent investigation that found the elite high school program violated WIAA rules.  The district released a letter it sent to Goncharoff that said it is considering terminating his employment for "repeated violations of District Board policies" including conflict of interest and interscholastic activities and "for your failure to be forthright and truthful with your supervisors and District administrators regarding the compensation you received from outside entities..."

But the coach issued a statement saying the action is being taken for another reason.

"The Bellevue School District told me that I personally have been cleared of the allegations originally raised by the District," Goncharoff said in a statement. "However, the district is recommending that the school board fire me as head football coach at Bellevue High School based on a new and completely unfounded allegation.

"They want to fire me for coaching out-of-season summer football camps - activities they fully knew about, approved, and which are standard practice for coaches and teachers across sports, music, academics and other activities," he added.

"District leaders are trying to hang their case on a disclosure policy that they admit is vague," he said. "In fact, it is virtually unknown and under the district's strained interpretation would be widely violated in our District. What's more, it is a policy they are attempting to apply retroactively. Essentially, they changed the rules in the middle of the game, didn't tell anyone about it, and now I am being punished.

"Even worse, while school officials retroactively apply this rule to fire me, they state that they will also use it against coaches across many other sports, teachers in music programs, and other educators and mentors who are paid to help kids in the summer. These are good people doing admirable work, and   the district intends to punish them too."

The Bellueve School District decision reportedly was made in a closed-door meeting Wednesday.

“We are outraged that the Bellevue School District staff is calling on the school board to terminate Coach Goncharoff," a statement from the Bellevue Wolverines  (booster) Football Club said.  “It is clear to us that this recommendation is horribly flawed in its reasoning, and is motivated by political expediency.

“We find it more than curious that the district cleared Coach Goncharoff of any of their original allegations, and in a shocking change of direction based their recommendation to fire him on a vaguely worded policy memo that they have belatedly raised after the fact...."

“We have been in communication with our members and countless other parents and former Wolverine players and we intend to voice our support for Coach Goncharoff when the board meets next Tuesday," the club said.

A recent, independent investigation found the Bellevue football team violated rules of the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association that put certain players on the roster, giving the team an unfair advantage. The investigation also found boosters paid for student athletes to attend a private alternative school, and false addresses were used to make players eligible.

The Bellevue Wolverines Football Club had said it didn't violate any WIAA regulations but will work with the school district toward a fair resolution.

School District Superintendent Tim Mills said last month that some of the findings in the report "require immediate attention." He added that the district believes "in the importance of fair play and rules."