Former Hesperia wrestling coach under criminal investigation

May 22, 2014

HESPERIA – Former wrestling coach and current gym teacher and cross-country coach, Doug Baird, is on paid administrative leave and under criminal investigation for a “classroom incident,” according to MLive.com.

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Doug Baird

Baird, who was ousted as wrestling coach last year, was under investigation by the Newaygo County Sheriff’s Department. The investigation has been turned over to the Newaygo County Prosecutor’s Office.

An April 24 incident involving a student caused Baird to be placed on paid administrative leave April 25, Hesperia Community Schools Superintendent Jeff Haase told MLive.com. Whether Baird returns to his job depends on the results of the school’s investigation and the sheriff’s investigation, Haase said. He declined to describe the nature of the classroom incident.

School officials contacted the sheriff’s department, April 28, regarding an incident that occurred, April 24, Undersheriff Brian Boyd told MLive. The incident was an allegation that a teacher grabbed a student by the sweatshirt and dragged the student backwards, causing an abrasion, Boyd said. The student’s parents asked the school to contact the sheriff’s department, he said.

Boyd declined to name the teacher. There were no other complaints at the high school for that date, he said.

The school board voted a year ago to not renew Baird’s contract as wrestling coach after he had been reprimanded for two incidents. One involved alleged use of marijuana by unsupervised Hesperia wrestlers during an overnight trip, and the other involved a failure to report alleged inappropriate touching between two students.

Baird, whose wrestling teams had been highly successful, kept his positions as physical education instructor and cross country coach after he was removed as wrestling coach. His coaching career includes state championships for both sports and several top five or better finishes at the state level.

The small town has been divided over the controversial decision to not renew his wrestling coaching contract. Baird has strong supporters who insist the reprimands were unwarranted, while there are opponents who stand behind the school board’s actions.

A special election last November driven by petitions that were signed by citizens attempted to get rid of two school board members. One of the school board members retained his seat, and the other was voted off the board.

Baird could not be reached for comment.

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