Fort Pierce Westwood football coach and interim athletic director Waides Ashmon returned to the practice field Wednesday afternoon, not long after St. Lucie County Schools Superintendent Michael Lannon reinstated him in the absence of any criminal charges.
According to a statement released by school district spokesperson Janice Karst, new Westwood principal Mallissa Hamilton will offer Ashmon a coaching and teaching position for next year.
He will not be appointed the school’s athletic director.
Ashmon learned of Lannon’s decision in a meeting with the superintendent, Hamilton and teachers union personnel.
“During this meeting,” the statement said, “expectations for behavior were laid out for Mr. Ashmon by Mrs. Hamilton and the superintendent.”
Lannon met with Ashmon and his team at 5:30 p.m. and told the players the coach has “apologized for actions” that caused his removal.
Those actions, however, remain a mystery.
Ashmon, who was temporarily reassigned to the school district’s payroll office on May 10, could not be reached for comment Wednesday night.
Ashmon was removed as the Panthers’ coach in the middle of spring practice, following undisclosed allegations of wrongdoing stemming from an incident that occurred in December during Westwood’s loss in the region final, which was played at Florida International University.
The St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office forwarded the allegations to the FIU Police Department, which had jurisdiction over the case. And shortly before noon Wednesday, campus police said the investigation was still in its early stages.
“We just got it,” Torres said, adding that his department knew nothing of the incident until he was contacted by a St. Lucie County Sheriff’s detective two weeks ago. “We’re still trying to contact witnesses to find out the who, when, what and where. All we have to go on is the report that was filed with the Sheriff’s Office up there.
“We haven’t been able to interview the alleged victim yet. That’s the person we really need to talk to.”
Asked if there was any chance his investigation could be concluded this week, Torres replied: “Definitely not.”
Yet, the school district’s statement said Lannon rendered his decision on Ashmon’s case after “reviewing the investigation into allegations of inappropriate professional conduct.”
The statement also said that “since no law enforcement agency has found sufficient evidence to bring charges, and since, in his opinion, the testimony provided by four adults is in conflict,” Lannon concluded that “termination is not warranted.”
The identity of the four adults was not disclosed.
Under the district’s collective bargaining agreement with the teachers union, annual contract employees must be notified by Friday as to whether they’ll have their contracts renewed for the next school year.
Ashmon is an annual contract employee.
And his teams have been successful on the field, posting records of 10-2 and 8-4 in his two seasons at Westwood, where he is the first Panthers football coach to win 18 games in his first two years.
Ashmon is expected to be on the Panthers’ sideline for Friday’s spring game at Glades Central.
Reported by: Ray McNulty/Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers
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