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I have a compromise solution to the Jim Jonas situation in West Fargo

by Mike McFeely

The West Fargo School District needs a way out, and it needs to make its point.

Jim Jonas needs a pathway to again be able to coach football and basketball.

And the parents who apparently started this whole mess in West Fargo need to be satisfied their concerns were heard and dealt with in some manner.

What everybody needs is a compromise.

And I think I have one that satisfy all parties.

You're welcome.

I've spent some time the past couple of days thinking about the situation of Jim Jonas, a longtime assistant coach in football and boys basketball in West Fargo. Jonas was told last week he would not be offered future contracts to coach football and basketball. If he met certain standards, he would be allowed to continue coaching track. He would continue teaching history in West Fargo regardless of his coaching status.

 Jim Jonas.

It was never quite made clear why Jonas was being moved aside, but everybody I've talked with in West Fargo says it was complaints from parents. There was not a single incident, there was not a smoking gun ... it was just unhappy parents.

Jonas is not entirely innocent in this mess, either. He is very intense, has a history of rough relationships with superiors, often uses foul language and has been known to be too blunt with students in the classroom. Jonas is, to put it simply, rough around the edges.

But many of his students and athletes (former and current) stand behind Jonas and like his passion, even while admitting his style and methods aren't for everyone.

Which brings us to where we are now: Jonas' coaching future is undetermined and he is unhappy and embarrassed, the school district looks like a gang of unprofessional spineless goons, the local media are demanding answers and the parents who started the debacle are kicking back in anonymity watching what their actions have wrought. We're at a stalemate.

I have an idea to get past it and let everybody get a little something out of the deal.

School administrators and Jonas should sit down and work out a compromise under which Jonas agrees to a temporary suspension from coaching, with the caveat that he can coach football and basketball again next year if he minds his P's and Q's during the remaining school year and during spring track season. The district can lay out specific things upon which Jonas must improve (less yelling, less swearing) and if he does, he will be offered contracts to coach football and basketball next year. The onus will be on Jonas.

It is a win-win.

The district gets to save face while still getting its point across.

Jonas will have an open door to return to coaching, and he can show contrition.

The parents will be given a bone in the form of Jonas being punished and, for parents of senior basketball players, Jonas won't coach this winter.

Media coverage of the compromise will be positive because it will show the public that the district respects its students and is willing to find positive solutions.

Everybody gives a little something, everybody gets a little something and everybody is feeling just a little unsatisfied. A perfect compromise.

And for those who might want Jonas reinstated to his coaching positions immediately, that isn't going to happen. The district needs an exit strategy in which it can make a point ... and not be forced to admit it handled the situation entirely incorrectly.

I have a feeling some resolution will be reached before the weekend. Hopefully it is this one.

(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.)