In light of the recent issues surrounding Notre Dame Prep, many parents are calling for the resignation of both school President James Gmelich and Head Football Coach Mark Nolan.
This outcry by parents of Notre Dame students and football players has reached a fever pitch as a petition is circulating calling for the resignation as well as a meeting to take place Tuesday night, Oct. 25, according to written correspondence provided to the Independent.
Tuesday, Oct. 25’s meeting will take place in the cafeteria at Notre Dame Prep starting at 6 p.m. to express their frustrations about Mr. Gmelich and Coach Nolan and reach a solution on the postseason ban for this year.
The school has until Thursday, Oct. 27 to appeal the probation. Playoff seeds will be announced Saturday, Oct. 29.
The outrage from parents stems from the many issues revolving around the school such as the Arizona Interscholastic Association putting the football program on probation for two AIA bylaw violations and the community complaining of the lights at Scot Bemis Field being too bright, according to the petition.
Furthermore, the petition cites teacher and staff turnover and lack of communication as additional reasons for the call for resignation.
The petition claims those issues “have hurt our Notre Dame Preparatory students, alumni, parents, faculty and friends. In addition, it has put the future of our school at risk.”
Mr. Gmelich did not return an e-mail and a call requesting comment.
On behalf of those parents, Attorney Jordan Rose, founder and president of Rose Law Group, drafted a letter to MaryBeth Mueller, superintendent of Catholic schools for the Diocese of Phoenix, demanding the school file an appeal against the football team’s probation.
“The parents justifiably believe that their children should not pay a price for the actions of adults who are entrusted with their care, education and physical development,” Ms. Rose said in the letter, which was shared with the Independent.
Additionally, the letter calls for some kind of punishment on both Mr. Gmelich and Coach Nolan, whether that be discipline or termination, in hopes the AIA will overturn the playoff ban it dished out at the Monday, Oct. 17 executive board meeting.
Ms. Jordan said in the letter that if NDP fails to file a timely appeal, then the parents are prepared to take matters into their own hands. These solutions the parents may pursue range from filing an injunction to the AIA to withdrawing their students and financial support, according to Ms. Rose’s letter.
Along with this letter, another letter — shared with the Independent — sent to both Mr. Gmelich and Coach Nolan with only a signature of “Parents of the Notre Dame Prep 2016 Football Team.”
This letter, similar to the letter sent to the Diocese, calls for Mr. Gmelich and Coach Nolan’s resignation.
“You should resign your posts and urge the AIA to not punish our sons, but let them keep the playoff berth they deservedly earned,” the letter states.
NDP clinched the top spot in the Northeast Valley Region, which normally would ensure the team an automatic bid into the 5A state playoffs, but because of the ban, NDP will be left out.
These letters add to the growing cry against the school as a petition has already been circulating.
A user under the guise of “Notre Dame Preparatory” is the author of the petition, which the author created on ipetitions.com.
In an email response, the authors of the petition declined to reveal their identity.
“We are Notre Dame parents but we are afraid to give our names for fear of retribution from the school,” the email states.
However, the author continued in the email that some parents might be willing to talk to the media after meeting in the evening of Oct. 25 at the school.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the petition has 587 signatures, surpassing its listed goal of 500, and has 173 comments, according to the petition’s website.
News Services Reporter Josh Martinez can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 623-445-2738