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Originally published Wednesday, April 20, 2011 at 7:01 PM

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Garfield High School athletic director fired after investigation

Garfield High School athletic director Jim Valiere, who had been on administrative leave since October, has been fired by Seattle Public Schools after a lengthy investigation.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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quotes Pay to play. What a crock. Here's a perfect example of kids with a ton of raw... Read more
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Garfield High School athletic director Jim Valiere, who had been on administrative leave since October, has been fired by Seattle Public Schools after a lengthy investigation.

The action was taken because of "inappropriate and unprofessional behavior" and "violation of district policies," according to an April 11 termination letter to Valiere from Susan Enfield, Seattle Public Schools interim superintendent. The letter was obtained by The Seattle Times under the Freedom of Information Act.

Valiere has requested an open hearing to dispute the allegations and decision.

"I feel like I've been in a bad movie," Valiere said. "I know I was making a positive difference there."

Valiere first came under scrutiny when Garfield football coaches Anthony Allen and Anthony Kelley were forced to resign after playing ineligible players Sept. 10 against Sammamish of Bellevue. The football team forfeited that victory.

The subsequent investigation turned up other allegations against Valiere that were outlined in Enfield's letter.

In addition to being blamed for allowing ineligible student-athletes to play, the letter said Valiere misused district funds, disregarded policy and provided grades students didn't earn.

"He's in a high-profile position and he made some poor decisions that cost Garfield tremendously," Garfield principal Ted Howard said. "My hat goes off to Jim as a person. I respect him totally. I hired him. I have to take some of the blame there.

"When I hired him, I was looking at him as a person who was going to be the student voice. Quite frankly, the students loved him. They wanted him back, because he was that important to the kids. He captured their voice."

The investigation alleged that Valiere provided 19 Garfield athletes with "secret waivers" that allowed those students to participate in sports without following pay-for-play rules. That action was deemed to be an improper gift of district funds.

The investigation also alleged that Valiere awarded two students grades for an independent-study Spanish class they did not earn. Both students told an investigator they didn't do coursework to justify the grades, the letter said.

Howard said those grades were rescinded and the students were given the opportunity to make up the coursework this school year.

The investigation also alleged that Valiere misled the KingCo Conference and Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) by underreporting the number of ineligible Garfield football players who participated against Sammamish. It also alleged that Valiere hired a club soccer coach as a boys assistant in violation of WIAA rules.

"I don't think there ever was, really, an investigation," Valiere said. "The investigation they had going was just to find more dirt to try and bury me."

Mason Kelley: 206-464-8277 or mkelley@seattletimes.com

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