It is a shame, our shame as a community, that someone who has done as much good as Joe Kinnan must take medical leave because of the shabby way he has been treated by the Manatee County school district.
Kinnan has been far more than just a football coach.
When I was SAC chair at Manatee High School, Kinnan was the business manager at the school as well as the athletic director. If something needed to be done, such as fixing a broken AC unit in one of the portable classrooms or making sure a vendor was properly reimbursed, Kinnan (always with the prior approval of the school principal) would get it done -- and get it done now!
I served with Kinnan on the selection committee that picked the three finalists for MHS principal in the summer of 2007. He made it clear during that process that he had decades of personal investment in the success of MHS and the new principal needed to be someone who would restore pride and honor to the school.
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We selected three outstanding candidates. Superintendent Roger Dearing was wise enough to recommend that the school board choose Bob Gagnon from those finalists. Almost immediately, the school began to turn around.
Sadly, Gagnon has also been treated in an incredibly shabby way by this community and particularly by the school district. His acquittal in the recent criminal trial was a foregone conclusion to anyone who has read the weak investigative reports on which the charges were based.
We should all be embarrassed by our treatment of Kinnan and Gagnon. They should be viewed as heroes who have contributed enormously to this community. Shame on us, and particularly shame on Superintendent Rick Mills and the school board.