Renaissance High School students, parents question firing of boys basketball coach

Coach Vito Jordan removed by new principal

DETROIT - Students and parents at Renaissance High School on Detroit's west side are questioning why the principal removed the varsity boys basketball coach.

The principal wanted change, but her decision to get rid of coach Vito Jordan isn't sitting well with players and parents who want to know the reason why.

Carrington McCaskell, Juwan Maxes and Kylin Grant, who all attend Renaissance High School in Detroit, can't believe their varsity basketball coach isn't returning.

"I've been here since freshman year and built a strong relationship with him," McCaskell, a senior, said.

The three student-athletes said the school's new principal didn't take the players' bond with Jordan into consideration.

"Vito mentored me," Maxes, a freshman, said. "We went on college tours."

"If I needed to talk to him other than basketball, academically, he'd help me with that," Grant, a senior, said.

One of the new principal's first orders of business was to remove Jordan.

"I'm around those kids more than I'm around my own family," Jordan said.

Jordan said he was concerned by the principal's reason for his firing.

"I didn't expect it because she said she heard bad things about me, which could be detrimental to my character," Jordan said. "I've never done anything to be in trouble or placed myself as a black male to be under scrutiny."

A Detroit Public Schools Community District spokesperson said coaches aren't under a binding contract.

"During her review of the boys varsity basketball program, the (principal) determined, in her discretion, to make a change in coaching staff to reach the next level of excellence," the spokesperson said. "There was nothing improper, illegal or unusual with this decision. School-level principals have the discretion to make coaching changes."

But the team is ranked and predicted to win the state championship, and parents feel that some things were overlooked.

"The people who are most forgotten by this are the students and student-athletes," parent Karen Wilson said.

Here is the full statement from DPSCD:

"Renaissance High School has consistently been one of the highest performing academic high schools in the city of Detroit. This should also be the case athletically.

"As a new principal began her tenure this fall, she thorough reviewed all programs to ensure that the school was maximizing each and every opportunity for the success of our students.  During her review of the boys varsity basketball program, she determined, in her discretion, to make a change in coaching staff to reach the next level of excellence. This also occurred for the girls varsity program. There was nothing improper, illegal, or unusual with this decision. School level principals have the discretion to make coaching changes. Coaches are not under a binding contract.

"After an interview, Principal Stroughter extended an offer to Mr. Mark White, former head boys varsity coach at Renaissance High School, and current head boys varsity coach at River Rouge High School. Mr. White accepted the position; however, after threats of litigation, bullying, and apparently baseless attacks on his character after the acceptance of the position, Mr. White determined not to move forward with this opportunity at this time.  We will continue to actively seek a new boys varsity basketball coach at Renaissance who is aligned with Principal Stroughter’s, and the District’s, vision of excellence.

"As Detroit Public Schools Community District continues its rebuilding process, we will be unapologetic in our pursuit of exceptional talent. This includes a strategy to retain and recruit the best talent administratively, in the classroom regarding teachers, and on the field/court regarding coaches. This is what our children deserve."

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