Floyd Irons was interviewed live on NewsChannel 5 at Noon Monday, March 12th. Here is the transcript of that interview.
KSDK - After winning 10 basketball state championships, coach Floyd Irons wants his job back at the Vashon High School. The Saint Louis Board of Education removed Irons as Athletic Director and Head Basketball Coach at Vashon in July 2006. Recently, the board voted to allow Floyd Irons to coach again in the school district.
Art Holliday: Our guests today are Floyd Irons and attorney Jerry Dobson. Floyd, have you made an attempt to get your job back at Vashon?
Floyd Irons: Not really. I haven't made any attempts. I have talked with Flint Flower and Bill Purdy of the board. I think the board had done the job for me in voting to give me an opportunity to coach again. The board voted 6-0 to restore me, and to change the decision they made in July, so I think they have done that for me.
Art Holliday: Why do you want your job back in Vashon? Is it fair to say that at the least it will be an awkward situation if you get that job back? Why not another school?
Floyd Irons: It’s the fact that that is the program that I established, and I never thought that it was broken, and the fact of the matter is I felt that what I have done for kids over the years and the program has helped many kids get into college, so this is an opportunity to go back and finish what I have started
Art Holliday: Making the situations certainly ironic and again awkward, your coaching job had been filled by one of your most decorated players, Anthony Bonner. And Vashon principal had been quoted as saying she supports Bonner.
Floyd Irons: Well my take on that is that that's my job and that's the job I left, what the board will do with Anthony Bonner is up to the board. The board hired Anthony and I am sure they have plans for Anthony wherever they want to put him. They are paying Anthony a pretty good salary to coach at Vashon. I am sure they will find a position for him.
Art Holliday: Jerry Dobson, what is the status of the lawsuit and what is the basis for the suit?
Jerry Dobson: We haven't yet filed a lawsuit against the St Louis school board. We intend to file next month. We have to wait a certain amount of time under federal and stated regulations. We filed a charge of discrimination with both the federal and state agency. The basis of out lawsuit is one of racial discrimination, and I will suggest to you that if we have a Caucasian coach who sent more that 90% of his inner-city kids to college and won 10 state titles he would be a city-wide, state-wide hero, instead of being thrown out on the curb with no explanation, which is what happened to coach Irons. Secondly, the school board removed coach Irons not just from his coaching position but as head of the Public High League, I think they called it the Director of Sports and Physical Education. They said they didn't have any money to fund that department. Immediately after removing coach Irons from that position, they fully funded the department, they funded the position of director, they replaced coach Irons with a Caucasian individual and ultimately the permanent hire was less qualified than coach Irons. And that is only some of the basis for the lawsuit
Art Holliday: Who will be named in the lawsuit?
Jerry Dobson: Well, certainly the St Louis School Board will be named as a defendant in the lawsuit. Weather any individuals board members will be named, we have not yet decided.
Art Holliday: Will Veronica O'Brien be named?
Jerry Dobson: It is certainly a possibility.
Art Holliday: How would you characterize your working relationship with Veronica O'Brien? She tried to get a restraining order against you that was denied. Will you be able to work with her as head of the school board?
Floyd Irons: I worked with Veronica before, and she is the head of the school board, and my working relationship…I work with the St Louis public schools, she just happens to be the school board president, and my contact with Veronica has been nil in some aspects.
Art Holliday: My guess is you are fairly familiar with the column that Brian Burwell wrote last week speaking about $18,000 dollars worth of Vashon basketball uniforms, which remain missing. Here is what Burwell wrote, "Irons has a lot of explaining to do, legally he deserves the right to have the opportunity to reapply for this coaching job, but ethically he has to explain that missing equipment before he should be allowed on anyone's sideline." What is your reaction?
Floyd Irons: Well, my reaction is apparently Brian does not know Floyd Irons well and I don't know Brian Burwell. No one has approached me or mentioned anything to me about missing uniforms. When I left Vashon High School, Vashon had uniforms there. Again, I don't know what they are talking about when they are saying that $18,000 worth of uniforms are missing. Again, they haven't talked to Jerry Dobson; they definitely haven't talked to me about it. I don't think they anyone has talked to the business clerk at Vashon to find out if $18,000 worth of uniforms are missing. When you are looking at $18,000 worth of uniforms, that's a lot of uniforms that you are talking about missing.
Jerry Dobson: If I can interject on that is that I think part of the problem with responding to that is that there have never been any allegations made directly to coach Irons about any missing uniforms. What we are responding to is a bunch of rumor, innuendo and hearsay. Nobody had ever established how $18,000 was established, nobody has ever established what those uniforms are, when they were last seen, who had access to those or why there is any connection between allegedly missing uniforms and coach Irons. We talked to a gentleman who in fact was purchasing uniforms for Vashon, that he owned the uniforms and loaned them to the school, and we talked to him last week. He has custody of some of those uniforms. Nobody talked to him. There is no connection between any allegedly missing uniforms and Floyd Irons.
Art Holliday: What is the next step?
Jerry Dobson: The next step, certainly, is we are going to be filing the lawsuit, and we hope that coach Irons has always had the support of this community, and he has had the support of this community because of the work that he has done in this community. We hope that the community will support coach Irons and speak out on the fact that he is and should be the coach of Vashon High School.
Art Holliday: Floyd Irons, Jerry Dobson, thanks for joining us.