February 10, 2016

GEHS coaches send endorsement notes to parents

Danedri Thompson


At least two Gardner Edgerton High School coaches are throwing their support behind three candidates for school board.

GEHS football coach Marvin Diener and GEHS wrestling coach Matt Yeamans sent letters endorsing Patty Fabing, Mary Nelson, and Joel Riggs to the parents of football players and wrestlers. The trio was also endorsed by the local teacher’s union.

“There are some very contrasting opinions in regards to support of extracurricular activities among the candidates,” both coaches opined in their letters to parents.

Both also write: “I am confident with your support and vote at this Board election that our Gardner Edgerton Schools will continue to thrive and make a positive impact in our community.”

The emails were not sent from USD 231 accounts, however they appear to have been sent to lists generated through school activities.

There is a state statute that prohibits the use of school equipment or facilities to advocate for or against specific or clearly-identified candidates. However, K.S.A. 25-4169a only applies to first-class districts, or only the Wichita School District.

Carol Williams, director of the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission, said there’s s disconnect in the law between large, first-class entities, and smaller entities.

She said had the emails been sent from Wichita School District employees, they would possibly result in hearings before the ethics commission and potentially fines.

“But because it’s a second class city, there’s no law that addresses that,” Williams said.


  1. Sollicitus Civis says:

    If you read the emails you will find that two of the three are almost identical and the last paragraph is completely identical. There are common words used in the emails; Contrasting opinions, extra-curricular activities, moving forward etc. Unless these coaches were sitting on each others lap to write the email it is probable that they were given the general outline of what to write from someone else. Perhaps they had an offer they couldn’t refuse made to them by the Godfather?

    There is also an email from Kent Glaser that was sent at 4:22 PM from his personal email on 3/28. (Thursday) I wonder if Mr. Glaser was at work doing this and was he doing it on a district computer? Personally I could think of better things he could be doing with his time if he was in fact at work.

    It appears that the coaches are in essence using their official title and position to influence the parents of students to vote for certain candidates. These are the same candidates that will make decisions on not only evaluating but voting to retain or not retain the Superintendent. (who hires the coaches…) What a scam. In most public places things like this is forbidden if not illegal.

    How many people that work for the city have come out for or against any Mayoral candidate or city council candidate? None that I know of…but here you have coaches lining up to do the bidding of the powers that be. Why do citizens allow this shameful breach of ethics?

  2. They ask what is wrong with our youth. Look no further than this.
    A district that casts ethics to the wind. Greed = using whatever means necessary to get what you want.
    This would never have happened under Mr. Parry’s watch. Then it was about education – including character education – not about fake grass and accumulated wealth.
    The most horrifying thing is that these two coaches probably don’t have the moral education to feel shame at what they doing.
    I am ashamed for you.

  3. Sollicitus Civis says:

    Well, there you have it. The lack of ethics caught up our overpaid district employee. Not only did the handpicked candidates experience a crushing defeat but the GENEA showed themselves to be relatively ineffective. The big “GENEA Endorsement” emailed to patrons by coaches amounted to nothing more than a big waste of time for all involved. District employees obviously took this opportunity to send a strong message to the powers that be that they are tired of the culture of our district.

    We have some of the best teachers in the state. They deserve excellent leadership and Tuesday they voted for that leadership. I can only imagine the amount of Tums and scotch that were consumed Tuesday evening as absolute control quickly slipped away.

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