Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Lois E. Johnson
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Barnum coaching debate at meeting


A group of concerned parents, family members and a coach attended the Barnum School Board working meeting on Tuesday, May 7, to talk to the board about the procedure that is to be followed if there are complaints about the coaches.

However, before the board heard their comments, Board Chair Paul Coughlin announced that the girls varsity basketball coach, Dustin Collelo, and the junior varsity basketball coach, Jodie Collelo, had submitted their resignations. Dustin has been the varsity coach for four years and Jodie has been the junior varsity coach for two years, said Superintendent Dave Bottem in a later interview.

Colin Franek stated that he supported all of the coaches.

“The role of the school board is not to micromanage,” he said. “It is up to the athletic director. If a parent has a concern the process is to follow up with the athletic director, the principal and then the superintendent.”

A parent of two players said that there are legitimate issues with some of the coaches. She said that the concerns should be written in letters that can be given to the athletic director.

A brother of Collelo’s asked that the board hold Dustin’s resignation. He also said that bullying was a problem amongst the players that needed to be addressed more.

Dustin’s father said, “I don’t know how you win in this. I don’t know how you maintain your integrity in this process.”

There were several comments about the issue coming to the board.

“The procedure was in place but it was not followed,” was one comment. “It went right to the top.”

Another man commented that he was one of the parents that had lodged a complaint in a letter. He said that it should have gone through the coach, the athletic director, the principal and the superintendent. He said that he had sent copies to the administration but nothing was being done.

“It’s not about banners (hanging in the gym), it’s about teaching,” he added. “There is a lot of misinformation. The coaches get together but that is one sided. We want the parents and school board there so the truth comes out about what is going on.”

During the comments from the board members, Pat Poirier said that his stand was that sports do not belong in the board room.

Jamie Fuglestad said that he was the one that had asked for the board to look into the complaints.

“I’ve been hearing the complaints for four years and nothing has been done,” he said. “There are good players. It is hard to watch. If we get a bunch of complaints, they have to be addressed.”

Colleen Fetters said that she is still waiting for proof of a problem.

“There have been no other written or verbal complaints,” she said. “I am disappointed that it has come to us. I feel terrible about it.”

Beth Schatz said that, in her opinion, the issue has gone way out of control.

Jessica Unkelhauser said that the athletic director is not taking action.

Coughlin said that the board will vote on all of the coaching contracts in June upon the recommendation of the athletic director. He added that it was not common for the board to handle the issue.

“When the athletic director doesn’t act, it goes to the building principal, and then the superintendent,” he said. “The process was not followed, in my opinion. There is frustration on both sides.”

In other business, it was announced that Just Kids Dental wants to come to the Barnum school.

Fetters explained that Just Kids Dental could come twice a year and do routine dental care at no cost to the school district. The program finances the program through fundraising.

Bottem explained that the program hasn’t been in Barnum because students that receive free and reduced prices for lunches are called out of the classroom for dental care.

“They are supposed to be secret,” he said. “The county provides free dental care every Thursday.”

Fetters explained that the care of kids that qualify for free and reduced priced lunches is done very well. She added that the staff of Just Kids Dental Care also go into the classrooms and talk to the students about dental hygiene.

Coughlin said that the parents can decide if their children will take part in the program.

The board meeting will be held on Tuesday, May 21, at 6:30 in the board room.


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