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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

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4/8/2010 9:41:00 AM
Mingus teachers association declares support for Wokasch
Statement read to school board at meeting
Tom Wokasch
Tom Wokasch

Philip Wright
Staff Reporter


COTTONWOOD - Laura Logsdon, president of the Mingus Union Education Association, read a statement to the school board Wednesday night in support of Tom Wokasch.
One of Arizona's most successful high school wrestling coaches, Wokasch is under investigation by the Arizona Auditor General for allegedly depositing money from ticket sales of wrestling events into his personal banking accounts. He recently resigned as head wrestling coach, but he is still a teacher in good standing pending the outcome of the investigation.
Although not an official union, the MUEA has functioned for years as a negotiating body for teachers and other employees on issues such as salaries, benefits and district budgets.
"We do know the positive legacy he has built at Mingus," Logsdon said of Wokasch's coaching record. She said Wokasch has had a positive impact on students, and that his focus has always been on building strength in students and athletes.
Although Logsdon said members do not know the details of the investigation surrounding Wokasch, the MUEA leadership felt it must make a strong statement supporting Wokasch's right to a fair process.
Attorney William Holder told The Verde Independent last week that Wokasch is a tenured teacher, and the district has a duty to hire him back next year unless he is fired. Holder said it would require a process by the district to fire Wokasch.
In fact, Wokasch's name was on a list Wednesday night of 55 teachers the board voted to offer contracts to for next year.
That might not mean he will automatically be back as a teacher for the next school year.
Superintendent Tim Foist also spoke to the newspaper last week about Holder's comments. He said the auditors are waiting for more information from Wokasch. "He is still a teacher in good standing," Foist said. "And the process will start when charges are presented to the Board of Education by our attorneys."
Foist pointed out that the district does not face a deadline in a case such as this one as to when it gives Wokasch notice that he would not be asked back.

Related Stories:
• Former Mingus wrestling coach Tom Wokasch charged with fraud and theft


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Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, April 11, 2010
Article comment by: Jeff Wyantt

Fake name? Nope, if I were to use a fake name it would something like "Linda Havens." Now that would be a sweet fake name. I was attending graduation, a child was graduating, when the said booing by teachers occurred. It didn't happen that way, again an urban myth. Our superintendent and at least three members of the current school board lack the character and intelligence to make decisions that aren't influenced by the stuck-in-a-time-warp good old boy mentality. They're obtuse and provincial, just watch them work.

Posted: Saturday, April 10, 2010
Article comment by: Richard Hertz

The black armbands are a constitutionally protected form of the 1st amendment. Not only that, they are specifically supported in schools with the Tinker case. People act like the teachers busted out with Kalashnikovs. These frustrated anti-union people must be transplants from back East. Welcome to AZ. You will probably like it here -unions have zero power and the children have little hope of rising above the educational level of ...ahem...some of the people on this venting board.

Posted: Saturday, April 10, 2010
Article comment by: No Urban Myth

Jeff, you must have been in the rest room at the time, because they were booing at graduation. It was real!

Posted: Saturday, April 10, 2010
Article comment by: Linda Havens

It is obvious that Mr. Wyantt was probably one of those teachers wearing the black arm bands and now continuing to be a coward by hiding behind fake names and posting letters of support for the MUEA. For once Mingus has a school board made up of competent people who have deep knowledge of the inner workings of a school system. They did what was needed to be done and that was take the teachers and especially the MUEA out of power and establish a sturdy administration and governing board that won't be pushed around. They cut out all the slack and I am positive that they will handle the Wokash and Boysen mess with fairness, and respect. I also encourage you to run for school board next time a seat becomes available. You obviously have strong opinions, step up to the plate and make your opinions count.

Posted: Saturday, April 10, 2010
Article comment by: Jeff Wyantt

Black arm bands yes, in support of employee rights. I had kids attending Mingus during the difficult times where the administration was attacking teachers and supported their actions . Teachers booing at graduation? That's an urban myth. I was there and that didn't happen. Although if teachers booed the current good old boy school board and superintendent Foist in May I would support them 100%. This morons are destroying what was once a good school.

Posted: Friday, April 9, 2010
Article comment by: outsider outsider

It seems this MUHS graduate has had issues with Mr. Wokash. From What I have followed many individuals have learned and loved this man. This is a person who only helped your community, not just per wrestling but through community service.
If an outside account was used and there was no set procedure in place then shame on all of the administration for not properly advising all coaches on the correct procedure. From an outside perspective it looks as though the superintendent, business manager, and board wanted to get rid of a vocal person who stood up for the faculty's rights.
If he is such a bad person why leep him through the wrestling season it seems you all used him to get just one more championship.
Shame on you who were a part of the program and are not supporting Tom as you all know the money spent was for the betterment of your students.
Move On


Posted: Thursday, April 8, 2010
Article comment by: Lets all move forward

Well we have polar opposites here, "Not Surprising" and "Did you read the article." I certainly hope the Muea member and the community member both step back and not lose sight of what is most important about Mingus......the STUDENTS !!

Posted: Thursday, April 8, 2010
Article comment by: MUHS Graduate

I experienced Tom Wokasch first-hand as an athlete and as a student. He has made the wrong choice. This is just one instance in which he actually has to answer for it. He shouldn't have used a personal account for school funds. Period. I will be smiling when he is gone.

Posted: Thursday, April 8, 2010
Article comment by: MUEA Support Fair Process?

MUEA supports a fair process? Hmmmm all from the group whom in the past has supported wearing black arm bands and booing at graduation a few years back.

Posted: Thursday, April 8, 2010
Article comment by: Did you read the article? ?

This is to "Not Surprising". Were you at the Board meeting? Did you read the article? The statement by MUEA recognized Wokasch's work as an educator it did not in any way claim guilt or innocence. It was in strong support of Due Process...is that a bad thing? Maybe if you live in a Communist state it is. Jump off your high horse and either READ or LISTEN to what is said.

Posted: Thursday, April 8, 2010
Article comment by: Not Surprising

MUEA must make a strong statement of support ? I guess it is OK to not follow the rules of the school and we as a community should just turn our collective heads and allow this to be a standard practice. I wonder if they are also paying for the coaches attorneys's fees. It is a shame that MUEA will not and has not followed board policies for years, and as a group stand up and support what is wrong. No wonder there are no strong leaders at MUHS when this is what the ASSociation approves of "a coach who does not follow policy." What a poor example they setting for students and these are the staff who teach the future.



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