Woman Coach Dismissed for Photo of Breast Grab But Fiancé Coach Stays
What's good for the goose but not the gander
Actually, you might say that Pocatello (Idaho) High School girls' basketball coach Laraine Cook did think twice. Back in July, she had posted a vacation shot of fiancé Tom Harrison grabbing her covered breast, while both were in swimsuits, on her Facebook account, according to Gawker. Within 24 hours, the picture was down after the local school board first heard about it, according to a report from Idaho TV station KIFI. But it somehow resurfaced and was passed on to the local school board on Oct. 21, 2013, according to an interview with Cook on another local station, KIDK. The board fired Cook, as the Idaho State Journal reported. Parents of the members of the basketball team met with the school board in an attempt to change their minds, but officials stuck to their original decision, said The Associated Press. However, Harrison got away with only a reprimand.
In the interview with KIDK, Cook said that she had done nothing wrong.
Two things would seem to cause some head scratching. One is that the school board reacted, even though the image had long been taken down off Facebook. The other is the different treatment that the two coaches received. When asked why only she was fired, Cook answered, "The reason I was told was that I had posted it on my Facebook."
I wouldn't be doing anything like that -- not that I'd do it anyway -- on a family vacation with my mother and my kids, and all my family around. I wouldn't be doing anything that I would deem immoral or not right or inappropriate, and I definitely would not put something like that on my Facebook account.
But as New York's Daily News pointed out, Harrison led the team to 10 state championships since 1982 and is in the Idaho High School Football Hall of Fame. Perhaps winning seasons keep on giving.
But the distinction between having been in the photo and posting it might be enough to legally justify firing Cook and not Harrison. As experts note, what seems an unfair firing might still be legal.
There is an irony in play, because one reason parents are now concerned, reports the Idaho State Journal, is that basketball season starts in less than a month.
Cook plans to appeal the decision and said, "I would love to be able to coach those girls again," in the KIDK interview. "I love teaching. I love coaching. I love working with the kids. I don't do it because the money's great." She also said that if she learned one lesson it would be, "You have to be extremely careful about what you do or say." She ended by saying, "There's never going to be a mistake like this happen to me again."
As the appeals process continues, Pocatello hired a new girls' basketball coach, a man by the name of Brock Gunter, according to the Twitter account of Matt Gittins, who is sports director and anchor for another television station, KPVI.
Issues of perceived morality and questions of physical and sexual conduct are common causes for friction between school employees and officials. Early this year, a San Diego woman claimed that she was fired by a Christian college for getting pregnant while unmarried. During the summer a Catholic high school fired a gay teacher after he got married.
A Florida teacher was fired for modeling bikinis on her own time. After losing her job, she ultimately offered topless and nude posters of herself on her Facebook account.
Erik Sherman is a widely published writer and editor who also does select ghosting and corporate work. Follow him on Twitter at @ErikSherman