Records show Manatee baseball coach Strong not certified

Manatee's Strong also is subject of police investigation

jlembo@bradenton.comNovember 1, 2013 

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GRANT JEFFERIES/gjefferies@bradenton.com Manatee High School head coach Dwayne Strong talks with his team before practice Monday at G.T. Bray Park.

GRANT JEFFERIES — gjefferies@bradenton.com Buy Photo

BRADENTON -- Dwayne Strong spent last spring coaching Manatee's baseball team without the proper teaching certification.

According to records on file with the School District of Manatee County, Strong's temporary certificate in physical education expired June 30, 2012, after it was issued July 1, 2009.

Records also show Strong's temporary coaching certificate, issued July 1, 2007, expired June 30, 2010.

A Florida Department of Education statute states: "Each person who is employed and renders service as an athletic coach in any public school in any district in this state shall hold a valid temporary or professional certificate or an athletic coaching certificate."

The statute, 1012.55, also states: "The provisions of this subsection do not apply to any athletic coach who voluntarily renders service and who is not employed by any public school district of this state."

Though Strong did not receive a fee for coaching baseball last season, he works as a liaison at Manatee High and is paid $16.86 per hour for an annual salary of $24,784.

Strong did not return a call seeking comment.

This is the latest allegation against Strong, a Manatee alum who has coached the Hurricanes since 2007.

Citing alleged financial improprieties, Mary Murray, district executive director of high school management, sent a memo Oct. 3 to Manatee Principal Don Sauer instructing Sauer to "freeze all MHS funds and accounts."

Strong is not permitted to interact with any Manatee players and cannot represent the school in any capacity as a coach.

The district conducted its own investigation and reported it to the Florida High School Athletic Association before the investigation was passed to the Bradenton Police Department last week.

Strong has been a fixture on the area baseball scene for decades. Aside from coaching and playing with the Hurricanes, he worked with Kirby Stewart Post 24 American Legion team for more than 20 years and won a state championship in 2007 while serving as an assistant with Sarasota.

Strong also worked as an assistant at Booker High and Manatee Community College, now known as State College of Florida, and played at MCC.

Though they didn't make it out of the district tournament last spring, the Hurricanes have thrived under Strong, reaching the Class 5A state final four in 2011. It was the first time a Manatee baseball team made a state semifinal since 1963.

John Lembo, Herald sports reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7057.

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