Roosevelt Students Walkout of Class in Protest of District Decision to Not Re-Sign Two Track Coaches

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- About a dozen Roosevelt High School students walked out of class Monday to protest the Des Moines Public School District’s decision to not re-sign two of the school’s track coaches.

The community was shocked that Coach Kim Carson and Coach Joe McQuerry would not be coming back next year.

Students got a petition going that now has hundreds of signatures on it, but they felt like that wasn’t enough.

“A lot of students we don’t get to speak our mind to the administrators or to the school and like maybe we will, but they won’t listen to us. We felt like the petition was a great way to do it. We felt like that didn’t work so we wanted to do a little walk out,” Roosevelt student DJ Holliday said.

Roosevelt Girls Track Coach Kim Carson said in a statement the support from the community means a lot but "my departure from Roosevelt was a mutual separation and I have no desire to return to coaching at this time. After being recently promoted to the Iowa Judicial Branch’s Director of Education and Training, my desire is to focus my energy on impacting and championing my community and Iowa in a new way, away from running."

Coach Joe McQuerry said in a Facebook post about the matter that his departure was not like Carson's, “I’m still, as we speak, in the process of figuring out how to deal with this. Make no mistake about it, the decision to not renew my contract is indeed unjust.”

Roosevelt Senior and Track and Field Captain Rowan Abbas says Coach McQuerry changed his life on and off the oval.

He was a really good role model for me not in just running, in life. He instilled great values in me as a teenager in high school and it’s the same for a lot of kids because like high school is a tough time you’ve got a lot of tough decisions to make. You could go down many different paths and I think Coach McQuerry, he is one of the men, the few people still that focus on putting young men down the right path and succeeding in life,” Abbas said.

Parents and students are still searching for answers.

“I was actually told that Roosevelt said that they [Carson and McQuerry] didn’t fit the Roosevelt culture. The question was: what part of the Roosevelt culture are they not fitting? From when I went to Roosevelt teachers cared outside of what they did,” Des Moines parent Garrette Boone said.

Students said the district’s decision tore apart a family.

“Everybody’s talking about not even joining the team anymore. And we were all such a family,” Roosevelt student and track athlete Leronda Turner said.

The district has not given an official reason to Channel 13 regarding this decision.

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