CHARLESTON – Longtime Capital High School boys basketball coach Carl Clark has filed a discrimination suit against the Kanawha County Board of Education.
Clark, who has been a coach at the Charleston school since it opened in 1989, filed his complaint earlier this month in Kanawha Circuit Court. He says he was passed over for the Capital High boys coaching job this spring after he announced his plans to retire from teaching.
Clark, 68, was the girls head coach at the school and an assistant coach with the boys team until he took over as head boys coach in 1994. He began coaching at Kanawha County Schools in 191, according to his complaint.
Clark, 68, retired from teaching at the end of the 2014-15 school year, but he didn’t plan to give up the coaching job. However, according to media reports, Clark didn’t realize he needed to be on the substitute teacher list to retain the coaching position.
According to his complaint, Clark interviewed with Capital’s new principal Larry Bailey, two vice principals and the school’s athletic director Cody Clay, “all of whom have less than three years’ experience at Capital High School and all of whom are under the age of 40.”
On June 12, Clark says he was contacted by the athletic director and told to clean out his office. The hiring committee had named Matt Greene, 35, as the Cougars’ new coach.
“During his 21 years as head coach, Coach Clark won’ two AAA state titles and achieves over 300 wins with the Capital High boys’ basketball team,” the complaint states. “In the 2014-15 season, the last season before Coach Clark’s termination, the Capital High boys’ basketball team finished the regular season ranked No. 1 in the state with a 17-3 record and won the Mountain State Athletic Conference (MSAC) championship. Coach Clark was named the 2014-15 MSAC Coach of the Year.”
In an interview earlier this year, Clark told Charleston Daily Mail sportswriter Rich Stevens he saw the writing on the wall.
“I think they had a predetermined idea of which direction they wanted to go,” Clark said. “When I went in and saw all the people that were in the office, I saw they were all younger than I. I have kids older than anyone in there. That gave me an idea of what they were looking for. …
“Maybe it’s my age. That’s the only thing I can see that would be a difference as far as qualifications. I think I’m just as qualified or moreso than anybody else. …
“When I was first told that I had to apply for a job I had for 21 years, I knew the deck was kind of stacked against me. I went through the procedure and did what I had to do.”
In his complaint, Clark says the school board directly controlled and managed all interscholastic athletics for Kanawha County schools and, thus, was responsible for the actions of its employees.
“At the time of his termination, Coach Clark was 68 years old and his replacement was 35 years old,” the complaint states. “Plaintiff’s age was a factor in defendants’ decision to terminate plaintiff’s employment.”
He accuses the school board of violating the West Virginia Human Rights Act for age discrimination. He also accuses the board of intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
Clark seeks compensatory damages, including lost wages and benefits, as well as front pay, including unmitigated front pay. He also seeks punitive damages for the board’s “extreme and outrageous” conduct, as well as attorney fees, court costs, pre-judgment interest and other relief.
Clark is represented by attorneys Richard W. Walters and Brian L. Ooten of Shaffer & Shaffer PLLC in Charleston. The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Charlie King.
Kanawha Circuit Court case number 15-C-1470