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UPDATE: Jonas will be allowed to coach again after suspension

by Mike McFeely

Jim Jonas will be allowed to coach again for the West Fargo football and boys basketball teams under a compromise reached with superintendent David Flowers and athletic director Curt Jones.

The West Fargo School District released a videotaped statement from Jonas this morning.

 Jim Jonas

The statement from Jonas was:

"As you know, I will not be coaching basketball and football for West Fargo High School in the coming seasons.  I would like to thank everyone for the support and encouragement I have received during this difficult time.  I want you to know that I met with a group of West Fargo educators, consisting of coaches, the athletic director, teachers and administrators, on November 21, 2013, to discuss the situation surrounding my coaching positions of football and basketball.  All members in attendance recognized the importance of unity in moving forward by developing a process to assure communication leading to successful experiences for our student athletes, coaches and parents.

"This group of educators, myself included, is making a commitment to dedicate their efforts to work collaboratively toward a process of continuous improvement in the West Fargo School District that will ensure this success.  Open and honest communication will be the cornerstone of this effort.  The welfare of students will be the utmost consideration.  To promote a positive school and community climate, we ask that all members of the West Fargo Schools community commit with us in this endeavor.

 "Although I will not be coaching basketball and football in the coming seasons, this meeting has given me hope that, with hard work and commitment, I can someday return to the sidelines or the bench."

Multiple sources inside and outside the school district have told me Jonas will be suspended from coaching this year, but will be allowed to coach football and basketball again next year if he meets certain criteria.

The sources said Jonas and administrators had a lengthy meeting Thursday to air their concerns and find common ground.

Jonas is a longtime assistant coach in the Packer athletic program who was asked to resign from football and basketball at a Nov. 8 meeting with Jones and high school principal Jennifer Fremstad. Jonas has a history of being emotional, sometimes overly so, and has a couple of incidents noted in his personnel file, according to reporting by The Forum.

After news of the Nov. 8 meeting became public, students and the public showed support for Jonas. An online petition gathered more than 1,000 signatures, a Facebook paged titled "Justice for Jonas" had about 4,000 members and about 150 West Fargo High School students staged a sit-in this week urging the administration to reinstate Jonas.

The sources told me Jonas' coaching contracts were not going to be renewed because of an accumulation of parental complaints over a number of years. The sources said there was no single incident that led to the district's decision, but a couple of high-profile episodes during games over the past year (one in basketball last spring, one in football this fall) caused administrators to take action.

It's not known whether Jonas will be able to be an assistant track coach this spring. His duties as a social studies teacher will not be affected.

(Mike McFeely is a talk-show host on KFGO-AM in Fargo, N.D. He can be reached at mike.mcfeely@mwcradio.com. Follow him on Twitter @MikeMcFeelyKFGO.)