I missed this article a week or so ago in the FWST. Big Bob was kind enough to email it to me a few days ago and I am now just getting around to posting about it.
Keller HS Softball has been the most successful program in KISD history….yes, that’s right, it’s complete history. They won two state titles and a national title in a matter of three years. They were a playoff team year in and year out. The program had so much success that parents were moving to Keller from all over the country so their daughter could play for Moe Fritz. Every senior starter was recruited to play at some of the most prestigious College Programs in the country.
And what do we find out? That KISD pushed out their coach because of paperwork.
Former Keller High School girls softball coach Maureen “Moe” Fritz was in a class by herself.
She led the Lady Indians to two state titles and a national championship. She was named USA Today High School Softball Coach of the Year. She threw out the ceremonial first pitch at a Texas Rangers game.
For all her success, she is no longer the team’s coach.
On March 27, she signed a renewal contract for this school year. Ten weeks later, she signed a letter that read: “I Maureen Fritz resign from my coaching position at Keller High School at the end of the 2007-2008 school year contract.”
She now teaches at Indian Springs Middle School.
Several parents asked The Watchdog what happened to Fritz. I filed an open-records request with the Keller school district and received access to a foot-high stack of documents. But the district had other records that it didn’t want to release and asked the Texas attorney general’s office to rule that they were exempt from the Texas Public Information Act.
But the office said that the records — e-mails and memos — were public information. It also scolded the school district for missing the legal deadline to file its appeal.
The e-mails show that in her final days as head coach, Fritz, once a top collegiate player, ran into one opponent she couldn’t beat: the Keller school district bureaucracy.
The e-mails detail a strained relationship with her boss, longtime district Athletic Director Bob DeJonge.
Fritz declined to be interviewed for this column. A United Educators Association lawyer told me the reason: Fritz still works for the district.
Here’s what records show:
Positive reinforcement ordered in lieu of ‘threat’
In April, Fritz wrote a list of expectations for her players. The last paragraph stated, “Failure to follow the guidelines will result in head coach asking student-athlete to pick up personal belongings and leave the dugout.”
When DeJonge saw it, he sent Fritz an e-mail:
“The bottom of the letter is more of a threat than it is an encouragement to the players. Threatening kids with removal from the dugout is not consistent with our expectations of encouragement, ownership and responsibility. I also don’t think you or your staff would be in a very good position to be accountable for supervision of the kids that were removed.
“In short, I want you to remove the bottom paragraph and in its place list the benefits of staying involved in the game and supporting your teammates. Thanks. Bob.”
Handling of playoff game criticized
In early May, Fritz hosted a playoff game. Afterward, DeJonge wrote to her: “Did you inform anyone and did you have the form indicating mandatory charges for rental, game workers, umpires, security, etc.? Please give me some details. Bob.”
Two hours later, he wrote: “I understand that the booster club was not notified of the playoff game. This would have been a much-needed revenue source for the club in support of our teams. I need you to address this along with not notifying anyone else.”
She replied: “I apologize. I thought they knew about the games. The staff, school, maintenance and training did.”
In a second note, she added: “I did not realize until Friday night that the concession stand was not open. I was going to run it myself, but when I opened the concession stand it was totally cleaned out. Again, I am sorry.”
And in a third note, she answered: “No. I did not have this form. This was the first playoff game that I have ever hosted, most likely my last. My apologies. Moe.”
DeJonge wrote back that he would have his assistant “send you the form we use for playoff games. I am very disappointed that we are doing this after the fact. What did you tell the two schools that the fee would be? Did you have security? And where is the gate money? Did you pay the workers or are there pay sheets to be processed? It also would have been easy to arrange for the boosters to staff the stand since the president has a daughter on your team.”
The coach answered that in six years of coaching in the district she had never seen a fee form and didn’t know one existed. She added that she had not been trained to host a playoff game.
DeJonge’s reply: “I am very disappointed in the lack of attention to protocol.”
Rental vans not approved
District officials weren’t happy when they learned that Fritz had rented vans to drive her players to a tournament and then wanted reimbursement. The rental company she used was not an approved vendor. On May 19, she signed a letter acknowledging that the district’s purchasing director had explained the rules.
Ineligible player on bus
DeJonge wrote to Fritz to ask whether an academically ineligible player had traveled on the team bus to games, though she didn’t play.
When several days passed without an answer, DeJonge wrote, “Please send me your response to the question.” A day later he wrote again, “I need a response to my last e-mail.”
Her one-word reply, sent after another day, was not what he wanted to hear:
The athletic director told me: “You can tell in those e-mails that none of those were deal-breaker-type e-mails. They were just expectations of ‘here’s how we do things.’ . . . She, like everybody else, had certain expectations and guidelines.”
He added: “Gosh, her record speaks for itself as far as her success as a coach. People get to a time and place in their careers where you think it’s time to do something different. I think collectively we came to that conclusion, and I supported her decision to do that. And she’s moving on.”