Damien Memorial School’s eventful Thursday started with Brother Brian Walsh announcing that over a dozen coaches at the school would be relieved of their duties due to uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. It ended with the school announcing Walsh would not be returning to the school for the 2020-2021 academic year.
Dr. Kyle Atabay, who graduated from Damien in 1984, took over as the new head of school following the announcement of Walsh’s departure. The school will launch a search for its next president in the fall, with a target date for the new president to take over on July 1, 2021.
Atabay’s first full day on the job came with many questions from those within the Damien community. He acknowledges that those questions may persist due to the nature of the pandemic and could carry over into the school year if it were to open its doors in the fall.
“We received a lot of emails and phone calls, just questions. There’s naturally a lot of questions about what is happening and is it going to be safe for me to send my child to your school? Again, that’s partly why I wanted to do this, to make sure our families and especially our students understand that we are here to open up in the fall if we’re allowed to do that,” Atabay told KHON2’s Alan Hoshida. “But we’re gearing up for a regular school year, as regular as can be at this point. Sports, again, are a question for every school. I don’t think we’re in any different situation than any other school other than a major change in leadership.”
When it comes to fielding sports teams in the upcoming year, Atabay says that also depends on the safety of the student body.
“With guidance from the proper authorities and to keep it as safe as possible, it’s definitely not out of the question,” Atabay said. “But we of course have to think about our students’ health and safety.”
As for the coaches who were let go on Thursday, Atabay has not ruled out a return. However, it is a topic that he believes needs to be discussed thoroughly with new assistant head of school, Brother Chris Hall, before decisions are finalized.
“Possibly, I can’t say anything for sure right now. Brother Hall and I have not really had a chance to sit with each other to go into deep discussion about that,” Ataby said. “Again, really focusing on the reopening of school and so for us, we’re looking at the number of teaching positions that we’ll need, so if there’s gonna be any rehiring and they’re still interested, it would probably come from faculty, that group of folks who weren’t offered a position for next year.”
Monarchs football coach Eddie Klaneski and boys’ basketball coach Alvin Stephenson were two of the most notable names relieved of their coaching duties by the school on Thursday. Both are faculty members of the school. According to Damien’s website, Klaneski works in advancement and alumni relations while Stephenson is a seventh and eighth grade counselor.
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