LOS ANGELES — A high school water polo coach in Covina, Calif. — who was fired at the beginning of the school year in August — is protesting his termination, and claims he was fired because he is gay.
Mitch Stein was working as an assistant coach for the Charter Oak High School boy’s junior varsity water polo team when a disagreement over school policy touched off an argument that led to pictures from Stein’s Facebook and MySpace pages being turned over to school officials.
One photo showed Stein suggestively holding a corn dog to his face, while another depicted him posing with men in drag. Stein said he was never wearing anything sexually suggestive in the photos, nor were any students linked to the photos. But school administrators deemed the photographs inappropriate, despite being taken at non-school related events.
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According to Stein, an angry parent complained to school officials after Stein made several students wash the cars of some school faculty as punishment for not completing their required physicals, reported the Glendora Patch.
Soon after, an anonymous parent sent an envelope containing a letter and several of Stein’s MySpace and Facebook photos to the principal’s office.
Stein’s accounts were public at the time.
According to Stein, the letter chastised the school for hiring him and said he was unfit to work with children. Stein was relieved of his duties that very day and was told not to go near the pools.
Stein told Patch that some of the pictures were few years old an that one was taken over a decade ago. He said the timing of the photos’ surfacing is highly questionable.
The high school’s principal said Stein was relieved of his duties because of the “inappropriate” nature of photos despite his promises to have the photos removed from his social media sites.
Stein has since hired an attorney to handle his case.
Last month, he filed a discrimination complaint against the school district — a precursor to filing a lawsuit. But school officials have rejected his claims and have been unwilling to reinstate him.