The fate of embattled Riverbank native and acclaimed football coach, Kirk Peterson, will be in the hands of Riverbank Unified School District trustees on Tuesday, Aug. 6.
For the third and final time, board members will vote to approve or deny Peterson’s admission to the RHS football program, where he has served as offensive coordinator for over four months.
Yes votes from at least three trustees will vanquish a controversy surrounding the school board that arose on Feb. 19 when board members Ron Peterson, Elizabeth Meza and Egidio ‘Jeep’ Oliveira voted to dramatically cut a benefits package for fellow trustees Steve Walker and John Mitchell.
Mitchell, who has completely missed 12 of the last 18 major district events that board members are expected to attend, left that meeting immediately following the vote to cut his benefits, then voted alongside Walker on May 7 to stifle the hiring of board member Ron Peterson’s son, Kirk Peterson, to the football staff.
Walker made his first stand against Kirk Peterson on Feb. 19, admitting he did so in retaliation for Ron Peterson’s vote against his health care — according to both Ron Peterson and Oliveira.
If Mitchell elects to vote no against Kirk Peterson on Tuesday, or skip his fifth straight board meeting, the only plausible outcome where Kirk Peterson is approved would arise from a change of heart from Walker, who has missed eight of the last 19 major RUSD events.
Ron Peterson has abstained from each vote, as instructed by the board attorney, and has said he will not falter from that stance. Since a three-vote quorum is required for any verdict by the trustees, Tuesday’s vote sets the table for a baffling roadblock in a normally routine process of prep staffing.
Bruin athletic director Jason Herrera, Kirk Peterson’s cousin, said an RHS coach has never been denied approval from the school board during his five-year tenure on campus.
Kirk Peterson, who went to Cardozo Middle School, graduated from Turlock High, and played college basketball for San Francisco State University, holds a credential in Physical/Health Impairments from the University, an English credential from Chapman University and works for the Stanislaus County Office of Education. He led Turlock’s frosh-soph football team to an undefeated league championship and coached the varsity program to playoff appearances in two of the last three seasons as offensive coordinator.
He’s been offered positions on the football staff of four other area teams, but has stayed resolute to a commitment to Bruin coach Jim Oliver and RHS student-athletes by continuing to instruct, without an official position on staff. Oliver and his players attempted to plead their case to Walker and Mitchell during a June 13 school board meeting, but the dissenting pair did not attend.
Oliver, Herrera, RHS boys basketball coach Jeff Jennings and other members of the Riverbank community have said they will attend the Aug. 6 meeting for one final chance to change the minds of Walker and Mitchell.
The meeting is scheduled for a 5:30 p.m. start and will open for public comment before scheduled agenda items come up for a vote.
Coverage from Tuesday’s pivotal board vote will be posted online on Aug. 6. The update will continue a four-part series covering the issue and all prior stories on the issue have been compiled into additional reading to aid the school board preview. All of this is available online at theriverbanknews.com.