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WBE baseball coach under investigation following “inappropriate behavior” at Carl Kuss Field

June 1, 2024 – West Bend, Wi – The West Bend School District is investigating an incident that occurred Wednesday, May 29, 2024, at Carl Kuss Field prior to the start of a WIAA regional playoff game between West Bend East and Sheboygan North. At issue is a head baseball coach who was told his game would have to be relocated because metal cleats were not allowed on the turf field. The coach responded with profanity and what has been called “inexcusable and inappropriate behavior.”

baseball

The incident came to light when Prudy Pick Hway, a member of the West Bend Baseball Association, sent a letter to superintendent Jen Wimmer. The letter references West Bend East athletic director Molly Hengst, WBE baseball coach Zachary Fountain, and WBBA president and Carl Kuss field manager Willie Mueller.

From: Prudence Pick Hway <[email protected]>
Date: Thu, May 30, 2024 at 4:51 PM
Subject: Please forward my letter below to the entire WBBA board and include Jen Wimmer
To: Craig Larsen <[email protected]>

Dear fellow board members,

I wanted you to know that I had a very serious discussion with Molly Hengst this morning regarding the situation at Carl Kuss Field.

I said there were errors at first, second, and third base but the first error was hers by not communicating clearly with the Sheboygan A.D. and coach that metal cleats are not allowed on our field.

The document that was sent out clearly says that we have artificial turf but nowhere does it state that we do not allow metal cleats.

Next, I addressed the behavior of the East baseball coach, which was inexcusable and inappropriate.

I said if he was that emotional and frustrated, he should have gone in the locker room, closed the door and beat his head against the wall.

As a result of his actions, I told her he would, under no circumstances, be a candidate for my coach of the year award and not to even include him on the list of coaches to be considered.

It is the one thing I can do personally to make a statement that this kind of behavior is the antithesis of what a good coach does and should do. I have let Willie know and I hope in some small way this makes him feel better as well.

Prudy Hway

Calls were place to WBE athletic director Molly Hengst. We are still awaiting a response.

Mueller confirmed the incident occurred.

Coach Fountain was reportedly on the field, about 40 minutes before gametime when Mueller relayed the news, WBE would have to go to the high school to play because superintendent Jen Wimmer said there could be no metal spikes on the field. The Sheboygan North team arrived with only metal spikes.

“No metal spikes is protocol at Carl Kuss,” according to Mueller regarding the turf field.

The direction to relocate the game to the high school field off Decorah Road was not well received by the East head coach.

Mueller said he walked away from the coach’s criticism which included comments that Mueller was a “has been” followed by numerous “F bombs.”

Parents, players from WBE, and players from the opposing team approach Mueller to offer some support. “I got a lot of players that came up to me later and parents said that their kids are sorry with all the F bombs and everything. It was terrible language,” said Mueller.

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WBE head coach baseball coach Zach Fountain coached the team Wednesday and again on Thursday, where they lost to Menasha.

Fountain said he was aware of an email (above) but was not included on the email chain and that nobody had spoken to him because the AD had a medical procedure and was not in the office.

After relaying the email written by Hway to Fountain he confirmed the discussion happened about metal cleats not being allowed.

“From my understanding of everything, we were not allowed to prohibit metal cleats as West Bend East at the game, because the WIAA says we can’t prohibit such footwear,” he said. “Obviously, because Regner is run by the city, it became a decision made by the city that the game could no longer be played at Regner Park. So, when I was in the middle of hitting infield and outfield, Willie came out and notified me we were not going to play the game there. Obviously, like, I’m 40 minutes away from the biggest game of our season. So I was certainly frustrated and upset and now we’re in full scramble mode.”

Fountain said, “there was a little bit of a disagreement between me and Willie.”

“I wish things would have been handled differently. But yeah, stuff happens. The emotions were high that night,” he said.

Questioned what was said, Fountain deemed it “a disagreement.”

“I don’t think anybody else needs to be made aware of what that disagreement was surrounding or what was said,” Fountain said.

Questioned whether he was aware the district had a policy regarding using the F-word,” Fountain responded, “Okay” and then said he “apologized to Willie in a lengthy text message.”  He confirmed he did not call Mueller.

Fountain was asked how his actions in front of a crowd showed good leadership as a head coach he said, “Yeah, there was quite the audience. I was also standing out in the middle of second base where I was drawn away. And again, as a coach and somebody trying to get ready for the biggest game of, you know, our season. And then to have somebody walk out and interrupt that it definitely was frustrating and kind of boiled over.”

Questioned again about whether it showed good leadership for the team Fountain said, “I think this showed that I care about my guys. I care about where we play. We absolutely, you know, care a lot about Regner Park and the events that happened there.”

Fountain is in his second year of coaching the Suns. He was asked how he would handle a player who acted like he did. “When an athlete of mine or a student of mine would display behavior like this, I would typically look at the whole entire product of what they’ve brought and the person that they are rather than judging them based on one event,” he said.

Fountain confirmed the team beat Sheboygan North and he coached the next day against Menasha. He said the AD called him regarding what happened at Regner Park and said, “I informed her that I had reached out to Willie and apologized.”

Superintendent Wimmer sent a note in response to Hway’s email.

Hway responded,

“I emphasized to AD Molly (Hengst) that we should use this as a learning opportunity and to improve our process as well as staff reaction to unexpected and frustrating situations.”

Prudy
collett systems
During a one-on-one phone interview Wimmer reiterated her email addressing Hway’s concerns saying the athletic directors have to clarify that Carl Kuss is a turf field and metal cleats are not allowed.
Regarding the coach’s behavior Wimmer said, “I got a notice that there was less than satisfactory conversation with coaches regarding the incident. So, I asked for that to be investigated. But I’m not aware of any particulars about that.”
Wimmer confirmed she had not heard any details, such as F bombs. “That is not allowed. That’s not acceptable behavior. But again, that needs to be investigated and handled as a personnel matter,” she said.
Wimmer said the district has a policy in place regarding expectations for professionalism for staff.  The WBSD policy 522.4 Code of Ethics is below
While the Code of Ethics policy is in place, and Wimmer said they deem the language “not acceptable behavior” she did confirm profane words are included in the West Bend School District’s book club curriculum.
“Some students may have access to book club books with parent consent, that has profanity in it,” she said.
Questioned, then when a coach uses the profanity, you’re in favor of it or you’re not?
Wimmer said, “No, we’re not in favor of that.”
Below are the West Bend School District parent/guardian approved book club parameters regarding obscene language:
K-6:None
7-8:Infrequent
9-10:Sporadic
11-12: May include more than sporadic; however, it wouldn’t include a text riddled with obscene language.
Some of the language found under the district’s slogan ‘Excellence for All’ was 8th grade reading material and English 1 that included ‘coming of age’:
F-word
Shi*
Hell
Coon-a$$
Ass
Damn
Sonofabitch
a$$hole
mother f*er
UPDATE: Jody Geenen sat on the curriculum committee. She forwarded the parent signoff form adding, “Profanity in one book includes 12 uses of the F-word and other words such as ‘motherf*r, prick and pu**y.’
Geenen said, “It was a middle school teacher who asked us what was wrong with using the ‘F word.'”
Below is the parent sign-off form and the list of reading material for English III.
WBSD, book
On Monday, June 3, 2024, the West Bend School Board will discuss Recommendations for Book Club Selection and Notification: Sexual Content

During the public comment portion of the West Bend School Board, Jody Geenen read a statement regarding the coaching incident and the books in the WBSD curriculum.

Hello,

I’m here today because of an article that I read in the Washington County Insider over the weekend entitled, “WBE baseball coach under investigation following ‘inappropriate behavior’ at Carl Kuss Field.” According to the article, a head baseball coach who was told his game would have to be relocated because metal cleats were not allowed on the turf field responded with profanity including “numerous F bombs” and what has been called “inexcusable and inappropriate behavior.”

More from the article: “While the Code of Ethics policy for the school district is in place, and Superintendent Wimmer said they deem the language ‘not acceptable behavior’ she did confirm that profane words are included in the West Bend School District’s book club curriculum. ‘Some students may have access to book club books with parent consent, that has profanity in it,’” she said.

“Questioned, then when a coach uses the profanity, you’re in favor of it or you’re not? Wimmer said, ‘No, we’re not in favor of that.’”

Perusing some of the language found under the 8th grade reading material and even the high school English classes, I am still outraged at the list of profanities that are in the curriculum. In one 8th grade book, there are 12 uses of the f-bomb and too many more words I can’t get myself to say publicly!

In conjunction with both the profanities in the books and the coach’s F-bombs, I am still shocked by the audacity of one middle school teacher who during a public book challenge last year, asked the book challenger what was wrong with using the ‘F word.’”

How can we expect excellence from our students when the school district staff does not follow or agree with the Code of Ethics Policy and Student Handbook? How can we expect excellence from our students when our school district appears to believe that profanities are acceptable enough to offer them in the curriculum and to use them around the students and public?

Furthermore, after reviewing the school board agenda for today, I am shaking my head at the item for discussion: sexual content. Judging by how the profanities have gone for curriculum, I’m not too hopeful about what the school board and administration plans to do with continuing to allow sexual content in the curriculum. Nevertheless, I am urging this board to vote against offering curriculum with any sexual content for any grade. If students want to read books with sexual content, parents can choose to approve it for books their children can read in their spare time.

God bless,
Jody Geenen

West Bend, WI

Wimmer said the investigation into the coach will take about a week.

This is a working story, and more information will be posted when details are available.

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