ARCADIA ( — Students and teachers Wednesday packed into a school board meeting in support of a fired high school cross country coach.

Jim O’Brien was fired from his coaching position by Arcadia Unified School District officials in June after he spray painted yellow “X’s” on school lockers that no longer worked.

Since the firing, students, parents and alumni have come to the aid of the two-time national champion coach, coming up with recall papers, YouTube videos and a Facebook page with more than 4,100 to convince district leaders to reverse their decision.

“The best the principal could give me is that they wanted to go in another direction,” said O’Brien who met with Arcadia’s top administrator following his dismissal.

During the meeting, school board administrators decided they will make no decision on the firing. O’Brien will remain employed as the school’s Physical Education teacher.

“He’s a great coach because he’s inspirational. He motivates us to do things, most importantly, he allows us to believe in ourselves in a way that most other people would not teach us how to,” Acradia High School senior Bryan Bgo said.

The AUSD issued a statement Wednesday regarding the issue.

“Coaching in Arcadia is a temporary year-to-year appointed, extra duty assignment. Full-time teachers such as Mr. O’Brien who are appointed to coach a team are paid a stipend for these duties. Each assignment is made for one school year. All appointments are made at the discretion of the District,” officials said.

O’Brien says he had never once been called in for a renewal or his contract in the 17 years as an employee of the AUSD.

“There is no evaluated process. If there was one, maybe this wouldn’t be where it is today,” he said.


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