Despite the presence of multiple parents coming to Monday night’s Gordon County Board of Education meeting to stand up for coach Cory Nix, the board didn’t comment or give any information regarding Cory Nix’s resignation as the head football coach of Gordon Central.
Starting off the BOE meeting, Chairman Charlie Walraven said the board would not be commenting on the situation with Cory Nix, who stepped down from his coaching position on Feb. 28. Cory Nix said the resignation was not his choice, but that he was presented with the “ultimatum” of either being removed from his post or resigning on his own.
Following Cory Nix’s resignation, Gordon Central Principal Doug Clark said the coach was told the program was being taken in a different direction. Clark added that it was Cory Nix’s decision to resign, as the principal announced the resignation on Facebook with “mixed emotions.”
Since word has gotten out about the situation, parents and students have protested for answers as to why Cory Nix was asked to resign from his coaching position. An online petition was even started by a parent of two children in the school district, receiving 589 votes according to the petition’s creator, Jenny Shellhouse.
Though he no longer leads the football team, Cory Nix will continue as a PE teacher at the school for at least the remainder of the year, after which he will have to decide whether to continue on as just a teacher at Gordon Central or look for another school to join as a coach and teacher.
But parents are concerned about the situation, considering Cory Nix’s wife, Kacy Nix, teaches special education at Ashworth Middle School. On Monday, parents said Kacy Nix makes a huge impact on her students, and if the Nix family left because of the resignation situation, their children would suffer through transition to another teacher.
Two who requested to talk at the meeting included Jody Miller and Shellhouse, who both asked the board for answers. But while the board was in executive session, Shellhouse said she didn’t think the board would address her concerns.
“I let them know I was upset but I honestly don’t think they’re going to do anything,” Shellhouse said, sitting next to her two children, Brock, a freshman at Gordon Central who is a student and player of Cory Nix’s, and Charlie, who is a student of Kacy Nix’s at Ashworth Middle.
“I just don’t have very much confidence they’ll do anything. I know some of them and they’re good people, I just think Gordon Central just keeps getting sabotaged and put on the back burner for some reason,” said Shellhouse when a few other concerned parents entered into the conversation. Other parents nodded in agreement to her comments.
Shellhouse was not alone when she said she didn’t understand why Nix was forced to resign. Another parent, who requested to remain unnamed, said the answers Clark provided Cory Nix with upon giving him an ultimatum didn’t make any sense. She said she got most of her information from Cory Nix himself.
The anonymous parent, who has also has a child in Kacy Nix’s special education class, said she’s concerned that after this academic year, the Nix family will relocate so that Cory Nix can pursue his dream of being a football coach. She said Cory Nix told her his goal is to be a coach.
“I’m thinking about pulling my daughter (from the district),” the parent said. “The chance of them leaving after this school year is very high unless he’s reinstated.”
The concerned mother repeated that the Nix family, both the parents and their children had been positive influences for her non-verbal child, who has cerebral palsy, bringing her out of her comfort zone and helping her feel empowered. If the Nix family left, she said, her daughter would struggle without their unique support and encouragement.
District staff speak up
John Rainwater, the head track coach who had been with the district for 17 years, commented during the executive session that he was appreciative of the parents attending the board meeting and asking for answers. He emphasized, however, that the most important people in this situation were the students.
“I learned a long time ago I don’t want to be a head coach because there’s so much that’s not football or has nothing to do with football,” Rainwater said, who didn’t comment on the personnel conflict. “The most important thing is the boys and our kids, no matter what.”
Despite parents getting argumentative and asking him for information, Rainwater remained neutral yet appreciative of parents fighting for what they thought was fair.
Since the petition started, there have also been a surplus of social media comments from Gordon Central athletes, students and parents who demand to know why an ultimatum was presented and why the football program was “moving in a different direction.”
After the board’s work session on Friday, Board Member Kacee Smith said while he wants to talk more to those involved in the situation and offer as many answers as he can, there’s only so much the board can do since the matter falls under the personnel category.
“It’s not one of our realms, the principal makes the full decision,” Smith said, adding that the board had their hands tied. “How do you help bring understanding and closure but not cross that line of airing our why a decision was made? It’s a tough one.”
On Monday, no comments from any of the board were made regarding the situation, either before or after the protests of concerned parents.
Also during the regular meeting, Superintendent Susan Remillard presented to the board House Bill 978, which would install speed detecting devices in school zones to try to enforce speed limits near schools. This technology would detect when someone is speeding over 10 miles over the limit, automatically take a picture of their license and charge them with a ticket, at no cost to the school system, city or county, according to Remillard.
In addition on Monday, the Sonoraville High School girls’ basketball team was recognized for being a semifinalist in the state tournament. The SHS wrestlers were also acknowledged for being state champions, which is a long-lasting pattern for the team, as two seniors on the team had earned multiple state recognitions during their years competing.