CONDON, Ore. (CBS Seattle/AP) — An Oregon high school track coach has been fired for taking a student to prom.
Melissa Bowerman, 41, daughter-in-law of Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman, had been a volunteer coach at the Condon/Wheeler track team with her husband, 73-year-old Jon Bowerman.
Melissa Bowerman told the Associated Press that she went to the Condon High School prom with a 17-year-old boy from the track team because he did not have anyone to go with and he was struggling with his grades in his English class.
“If they go on (academic) probation and suspension, then they can’t go to the track meets,” she told the AP. “I said, `OK, I will go with you, but we’ve got to talk about English first. You’re going to do better in English.’” She added that she never had an inappropriate relationship with the teenage boy.
Condon superintendent Jan Zarate said details “arose” during an investigation.
“There was an investigation done and through that investigation, there were some potential details that arose,” Zarate told the East Oregonian. “We started an investigation that led to us asking her to un-volunteer.”
The boy’s father had no problem with Melissa Bowerman taking his son to prom.
“It is very much as if I had sent (my son) to the prom with his mom,” Thomas told The Oregonian. “Now how much would you worry about your kid going to the prom with his mom? Other than people making fun of him, but he’s a pretty tough kid.”
Jon Bowerman, who along with his wife has been coaching the track team since 2009, has pledged not to come back over the incident.
“After all we’ve done for the track program, you would think our friends would have given us the benefit of the doubt and it was just the opposite,” Jon Bowerman told the AP. “She should have at least had the opportunity to explain before they fired her.”
Gilliam County Sheriff Gary Bettencourt told The Oregonian that his office found no evidence a crime was committed by Melissa Bowerman after a prom chaperone called the office to file a complaint.
The girl’s track team won its first state title last Saturday.
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