Suit filed over BHS basketball coach

A lawsuit has been filed in Kitsap County Superior Court against the Bainbridge Island School District regarding its varsity basketball coach.

The petition says the district denies that Steven Haizlip used harassment, intimidation and bullying as coach by saying it was “not an intentional act.”

The suit also says the school board used information not produced by the petitioners in making its decision, ignored information that was produced and did not follow district procedures.

It says since at least 2018 the district has been aware of Haizlip’s bad behavior toward student-athletes but refused to take action to correct it.

The school board did take some action, requiring in the next season that basketball practices and games be monitored and that Haizlip attend additional training and sign a code of conduct.

“BISB even warned Haizlip that his contract is at-will and would not be renewed if he continues his concerning conduct. This at least shows BISB knows something wrong has gone on here,” the lawsuit states.

One of many of the complaints filed in the lawsuit says the district did not interview any parents or players from previous seasons. It points out that few spoke out during that time period because the BHS principal at the time was Haizlip’s wife, Kristina.

It also says parents of cheerleaders and band members submitted letters of concern regarding Haizlip’s poor behavior, yet the district did not interview them. “BISD choose (chose) to buy (bury) its head in the sand instead and limit the record,” the lawsuit says.

“What Coach Haizlip believed in his mind to be the motivation for his inappropriate behavior is irrelevant,” the suit continues. “What matters is that he made a choice to commit the inappropriate acts and that some were adversely affected. Nobody disputes that Haizlip committed inappropriate acts…”

The lawsuit also says the school board did not look at complaints from others in making its decision. “This was gross legal and procedural error and appeared designed to stack the deck in a way to permit the Board to deny the HIB Complaint and sidestep the years of neglect where Coach Haizlip’s wife was the principal and not properly supervising her husband…”

While letters against Haizlip, including many asking for his removal as coach, were not included, the district went out of its way to rely on letters submitted by Haizlip to deny the HIB complaint. And the board failed to provide those letters to petitioners despite numerous requests, the suit says.

In conclusion, the suit says: “BISD appears more interested in maintaining the status quo and protecting themselves rather than educating, enhancing development and protecting its student-athletes from a bully coach who is married to one of their administrators.”

Requested relief in the suit asks for: determination that the district and school board acted with deliberate indifference, vacate the board’s final decision, strike evidence not provided or disclosed to petitioners, declare that Haizlip violated policy and state law, order the termination of Haizlip’s contract and not allow him to coach in the BISD again, order district staff to take training, and pay for petitioners’ fees and costs, along with any other relief the court deems appropriate.

The lawsuit was filed against Bainbridge High School principal Kristina Rodgers, former athletic director Jim Corsetti, superintendent Peter Bang-Knudsen and school board members Christina Hulet, Mark Emerson, Robert Cromwell, Sanjay Pal and Lynn Smith.

Nathan Durrance et. al. is the petitioner.

In an email to the Review, Durrance says at the very least he feels Haizlip should not coach this year as he receives self-improvement training ordered by the school board in its decision. The position should be opened up for public application so the best person available gets the job.