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Gowanda Fields Comments After Coach’s Termination

Anita Howard, an attorney, spoke on behalf of Brandon Newell, a former employee of the Gowanda Central School District, who was terminated Jan. 9.

GOWANDA — Four guests at a recent Gowanda Board of Education meeting addressed the board after an employee was terminated from his roles within the district.

Brandon Newell was terminated on Jan. 9 by the Gowanda Central School District, where he served as a substitute teacher, substitute teaching assistant and junior varsity boys basketball coach. His removal as a coach in the middle of the basketball season sparked a response from the public.

After a budget workshop began the evening, the Board of Education then entered into an executive session “for the purpose of discussing the employment history of a particular person.” Once the board returned to the regular meeting, consensus agenda items were approved, including the termination of Newell, as well as the appointment of multiple substitute teachers, teaching assistants, and Bryan Lucas Brawdy as junior varsity boys basketball coach, effective Jan. 9.

The board then entertained public comment from four members of the public, including a former player under Newell and an attorney on Newell’s behalf. Not all members of the public identified themselves before addressing the board.

“We have questions and concerns on why Coach Newell was removed, and this close to the end of the season,” one speaker said. That speaker also questioned why parents were not notified before the team was. Players found out about Newell’s dismissal throughout a regular school day.

Another speaker described the removal of Newell “a very upsetting time for the team and concerning for the parents of the players.” That speaker also said of Newell, who also previously served as a lacrosse coach at the modified level, “He is a great role model, encouraging to the boys. He focuses on their strengths, never asking them to do warmups or workouts that he would not be willing to do alongside them.”

A former player of Newell’s also addressed the Board of Education. He described how Newell helped develop confidence in himself, as well as offering assistance with homework.

A letter was submitted on behalf of the junior varsity boys basketball team, who did not attend the meeting because of a game scheduled at the time of the meeting.

“We would love answers to our questions because some of our boys are suffering with their coach, their mentor, and their friend being removed,” a speaker said. The speaker then asked for Newell’s reinstatement.

Anita Howard, an attorney hired to represent Newell, was the fourth person to speak on Newell’s behalf. Howard told the board she discussed an incident with Newell and possible resolutions, and after that discussion, Howard implored the board “to consider returning him to his position, just for at least the remainder of the year.”

The board and the district did not issue any clarification regarding Newell’s termination. Instead, a written response was set to be issued to address the matter. The district office declined to comment further when contacted by the OBSERVER.

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