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Helmut Schmidt, Published November 19 2013

West Fargo coach Jonas releases statement apologizing for actions that led to his ouster

WEST FARGO – Former West Fargo High School assistant football and basketball coach Jim Jonas released a brief email statement to The Forum on Tuesday apologizing for unnamed actions that led to his recent ouster from those positions.

“At this time, I would like to thank everyone for their support during this difficult time,” Jonas wrote.

“I love being a coach.

“I am sorry for the embarrassment I have brought to my family, friends, and West Fargo.

“As a coach, it was always my intention to try and bring out the best in my players.

“At this time I will hold my head high, man up and move forward.”

It was signed, “Coach Jonas.”

In a follow-up email, Jonas declined to be interviewed or further comment on the case.

“This is the only statement I wish to make at this time,” Jonas wrote.

Jonas teaches world history at West Fargo High School and also coaches track and field for the Packers.

School district officials haven’t released information about the particulars of the incident or incidents that led to Jonas being told in a Nov. 8 letter from Activities Director Curt Jones that he would not be issued future contracts to coach football or basketball.

Robin Hill, human resources director for the West Fargo School District, said Tuesday that she and Superintendent David Flowers reviewed and talked through the issues of the case.

“We are talking about how we might release some kind of statement. I don’t think it would be today anymore,” she said.

Jonas was asked in the Nov. 8 letter to resign by Nov. 12 or be terminated. School officials said last week that they were giving him more time to decide.

Hill said she still has not seen a written resignation from Jonas.

Hill refused to say whether there was a complaint or series of complaints that led to Jonas’ ouster, or to describe the nature of what Jonas was accused of doing or not doing to lose the coaching positions.

The Nov. 8 letter to Jonas said that if Jonas did not meet certain responsibilities laid out by administrators, that he would not be offered a track and field contract this spring.

Hill said those requirements have not been laid out.

In the meantime, at least one of Jonas’ supporters is getting a move on planning for Monday night’s West Fargo School Board meeting.

Desrae Twedt, a 2000 graduate of West Fargo High, is planning a Jog for Jonas past the district boardroom at the Leidal Education Center during the meeting.

“Anybody that lives in West Fargo knows that Jim has jogged the streets of West Fargo as long as anyone can remember,” Twedt said.

“I know that there are not enough seats” in the boardroom, she said. “This way, we can show our support at the same time outside the meeting.”

Twedt said she put the idea on the Justice for Jonas Facebook page and got 73 “likes” in a day.

When a meeting time and place are set, she said the event will be posted on the Facebook page “to get as many people involved as possible.”

Jonas supporters have taken to social media to gather support for him, with posts on Twitter and a Justice for Jonas petition on change.org to ask for Jonas’ reinstatement to football and basketball coaching duties.

As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, the Justice for Jonas petition had gathered 1,069 supporters.

The Facebook group Justice for Jonas had 3,679 people as members.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583