Strip Club Job Puts HS Swim Coach Job In Jeopardy
HOLLIDAYSBURG, Pa. (AP) – A popular assistant high school swimming coach who works as a bartender at a strip club could lose his job in a central Pennsylvania school district after someone lodged an anonymous complaint.
Baron Leonard, 29, works two other jobs to make ends meet. That means he works four jobs, including his $2,530-a-year part-time coaching position at Hollidaysburg Area High School and his bartending job at Club Coconuts in Altoona, the Altoona Mirror reported Sunday.
Coaches’ performance and their contracts are renewed annually. But school district Superintendent Bob Gildea can’t say whether Leonard will return next year – or be asked to give up his strip-club job as a condition of returning to a team that sent five swimmers to the state championships.
“I can’t comment on that,” Gildea said. “We haven’t reviewed it officially.”
The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association adheres to the National Federation of State High School Association’s ethics code for coaches. Among other things, it says coaches “shall strive to set an example of the highest ethical and moral conduct.”
But PIAA Executive Director Bob Lombardi said that generally doesn’t apply outside the sports arena and that individual school districts must make their own decisions about a coach’s personal life.
Jane Grassadonia, a parent of a swimmer, said all but one of 39 parents signed a petition supporting Leonard. She defended the coach at a meeting in the winter when district officials discussed the issue raised in the anonymous letter.
“The school district overstepped their bounds by intruding into this man’s life,” Grassadonia said then. “Most of the parents didn’t even know he worked at this establishment. So he’s clearly exercised discretion.”
District Solicitor David Andrews said Leonard remains a district employee but wouldn’t say what he advised the school board to do about Leonard, calling it a “personnel matter.”
Leonard doesn’t believe his job should be an issue, and doubts it would influence students negatively.
“I’m not a stripper and I don’t necessarily condone stripping,” Leonard said. “I work there because I like my employers, and the customers are friendly and polite.” He notes that he bartends at another restaurant where he has more issues with “rowdy” customers.
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