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Oakleaf Junior High softball coach ousted; in house faculty member takes position

5:09 PM, May 21, 2013   |    comments
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ORANGE PARK, Fla. -- Paul Marsh learned in an email that he was out as fast pitch softball coach at Oakleaf Junior High School. What the Navy veteran was not told is that the union teacher contract gives preference to district employees.

"I don't do it for the money, believe me not for the pay," said Marsh from his Orange Park home.

Marsh's girls' team has a perfect 16-0 record this past season, winning five championships in the past seven years.

"I am a teacher on the field, yes. You can ask any current or former players. I teach fundamentals about life skills on the field, off the field," said Marsh, pointing out many of his former players earned college scholarships in softball.

Liz Akiky is softball mom who said Marsh helped make his daughter a better person.

"He really instilled a lot of values in those girls, morals, something that will help them grow and succeed in life," said Akiky, whose daughter is now a freshman softball player at Oakleaf High School.

Oakleaf Junior High Principal Janice Tucker in an email to Marsh said in-house faculty members applied and were selected for the coaching position.

Clay County Public Schools spokeswoman Darlene Mahla said the teacher union contract requires that district employees be given the first opportunity to apply for a coaching position that comes with a supplement.

Marsh said he received $1,800 dollars to coach the team. 

Mahla could not say why Marsh held the head coaching job for the past seven years if the union contract gave faculty first crack at the bat.

She did say if district employees did not apply, a member of the community would be considered for coaching.

Marsh said like he told his players there is a learning experience in everything.

"This is a life skill that I am going to learn, I will grow from it and will become a better person because of this," said Marsh on his take away after learning he would no longer be on the field at Oakleaf Junior High.

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