You’re OUT! School Bars Resident From Working as Baseball Ump

Former employee says it's retribution for criticizing district

Brian Polet

An Allegan County resident says the local school district has blackballed him from umpiring its baseball teams’ home games because he was critical of the school board and administration. He also says the district won't hire him as a bus driver despite having openings for the position.

Brian Polet said he criticized the Hamilton Community Schools’ board and administration in 2014 over its adoption of Common Core, the controversial curriculum then being implemented in public schools around the country. He later criticized the district for collecting data on students through a state testing regimen.

Polet, an umpire registered with the Michigan High School Athletic Association, has umpired high school baseball games within the district for years. He also said he is certified to drive a bus and has worked as a driver for the district in the past. But, he said, the district has passed him over for the position since he criticized its practices.

The district is currently advertising a position for a substitute bus driver.

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“It’s about my freedom of speech,” Polet said. “They took it upon themselves to punish my free speech. I would like an apology and a reinstatement and some guarantee my grandchildren will not face retribution.” Polet said he has two grandchildren who attend Hamilton Community Schools.

David Tebo, the district superintendent, said in a June email that he hadn’t spoken to Polet about his allegations so he couldn’t comment on them. Tebo said Polet violated the district’s chain-of-command policy with his complaints but did not respond to a follow-up email this week seeking comment.

Gord Poll, the president of the school board, didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.

Polet provided an email from the superintendent that spelled out the district’s concerns with his criticisms.

Tebo wrote that Polet encouraged the district to violate the law by not collecting data on students as part of the statewide assessment.

Tebo’s email read: “In the end, I don't know of any employer who would be compelled to hire someone who encourages them to violate the law, shares partial truths with others and refers to the organization as communist. You are entitled to your views and I am glad you exercise that right. At the same time we are not compelled to hire anyone and we have the right to ask that certain people don't work for us for any number of reasons or for no reason at all.”

Tebo added that if Polet wanted to umpire again within the Hamilton school district, the two parties would have to sit down and have a discussion.

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