Valdosta school board to reconsider coach’s firing

Fired Valdosta football coach Alan Rodemaker will have a chance to win back his job Tuesday at a specially called school board meeting. 

On Jan. 28, the Valdosta City Schools board voted 5-4 not to renew Rodemaker’s contract despite his record of 36-17 over four seasons. Rodemaker was a Valdosta assistant coach for six seasons prior to getting the head coaching job in 2016, when he led the Wildcats to their first state title in 18 years.
A request for a second vote was granted following a public outcry over the surprise outster. Tuesday’s meeting will be held at a larger auditorium, the Performing Arts Center on the campus of the former Valdosta High. It will allow for public comment.

‘’I’m just overwhelmed with the outpouring of support here from our players, parents and the entire community,’’ Rodemaker told Friday afternoon. ‘’I’m hopeful for a different outcome from our board.’’

Valdosta City Schools has declined comment, citing policy on personnel decisions.

Rodemaker said that his principal, Dr. Janice Richardson, and Valdosta City Schools superintendent Dr. William Todd Cason continue to recommend that his contract be extended, as they did prior to the first vote.

After the board voted him out, Rodemaker hired local attorneys Sam Dennis and John Holt, who requested a second vote and stated in a letter to the school system that they were ‘“saddened and troubled at the obvious political strong-arming that five members of our school board engaged in when they voted to not renew Coach Rodemaker's contract.’’

They were granted their request of a move to a larger venue to seek public input. ‘’This meeting will have a high level of interest by a large number of citizens,” the letter stated.

The Valdosta Daily Times reported last week that it obtained a copy of Rodemaker’s personnel file through open-records requests and found no reprimands or misconduct that would have led to being fired. The newspaper stated that previous personnel reviews contained only superior marks for his work.

“I’ve never been reprimanded, never been called on the carpet for anything by my superiors, never been told what I didn’t do right,” Rodemaker told on Jan. 29, the day after his firing. “I just got voted out. Nobody’s given me a reason.”

Rodemaker expressed concern that the original vote followed racial lines. The five who voted to dismiss Rodemaker, who is white, were African-Americans. The four who voted to retain Rodemaker were white.

Valdosta finished 10-3 in 2019 and reached the Class AAAAAA quarterfinals. The south Georgia school has won 24 state titles, the most of any Georgia football program, and 932 games, the most of any school in the nation.

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