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Saturday, April 15, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Sealth coach appeals to keep his job

Seattle Times staff reporter

Ray Willis has notified the Seattle School District that he will fight the district's decision not to renew his basketball coaching contract at Chief Sealth High School.

The district ruled April 7 that Willis and his assistant coaches, Laura Fuller and Amos Walters, had committed numerous recruiting violations while building their nationally ranked, state-championship girls basketball team.

The district intends to dismiss Willis, Fuller and Walters. The three had until Friday to file a notice of appeal. Fuller and Walters also appealed.

Their appeals will be heard by the district's director of human resources, Jane Westergaard-Nimocks, said district spokeswoman Patti Spencer.

A hearing date has not yet been set, Spencer said.

It's unknown if the three cases will be heard separately or together, but typically, personnel cases are handled individually, Spencer said.

"All parties want to reach a conclusion as expeditiously as possible while allowing for due process," she said.

Whatever decision Westergaard-Nimocks makes will be final as far as the district is concerned, Spencer said. The coaches could pursue the matter further in civil court.

The district began investigating the coaches after a Seattle Times story on Feb. 15 detailed how Willis, Fuller and Walters recruited girls to Chief Sealth with promises of starting spots, college scholarships and other benefits. The coaches provided bogus lease agreements to four parents so they could enroll their daughters at Chief Sealth without having to move, The Times found.

Six of those girls helped Chief Sealth win a Class 3A state title last year, while three helped the team repeat as champion this season. The district concluded that five girls were recruited, and that three parents were offered fake lease agreements.

Despite acting against the coaches, the district decided against taking away the team's two state championships.

A decision on whether Chief Sealth will have to forfeit any games could come at a special Metro League meeting of athletic directors and school principals, expected to take place April 24.

Michael Ko: 206-515-5653 or mko@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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