One-and-a-half years after Capistrano Valley High School head football coach Chi Chi Beihn was fired, the chair of that school’s social science department is lobbying Capistrano Unified officials to get his job back.
“We ask that you prayerfully consider the immediate reinstatement of Mr. Biehn. This action will not only bring justice for Mr. Biehn, it will greatly benefit the students in his classroom (where he belongs),” wrote teacher Tom Airey in a letter emailed to the school board, Superintendent Joseph Farley and about 30 others this morning.
The Board of Trustees fired Biehn and two other head football coaches – for San Clemente High and Dana Hills High – Feb. 29, 2012 for allegedly being caught up in an alleged kickback scheme with a now-defunct sports equipment company.
A district investigation found that Lapes Athletic Team Sales of Laguna Hills maintained kickback accounts in coaches’ names for encouraging their teams to buy from Lapes. The setup amounted to bribery, theft and conspiracy, the district alleged in documents.
Biehn, along with San Clemente coach Eric Patton and Brent Melbon, were shown the door, while other coaches were allowed to eventually return to their posts. Ultimately, the Orange County District Attorney’s office decided not to pursue charges against the coaches.
“Mr. Biehn was persistently and passionately a committed educator in the classroom and a superb model for our student-athletes on the field (a rare combination),” Airey wrote in his email.
A Capistrano Unified School District spokesman was not available for comment.
Airey acknowledged the Lapes Athletic Goods scandal opened a lot of eyes, especially as there were no rules or coaches’ manuals to guide the coaches.
“Unfortunately, it was ‘the way things were’ for decades,” Airey wrote.
He also said the scandal went higher up the chain of command.
“Indeed, if this was a ‘crime’ worthy of investigation and termination, there are plenty of others even more ‘guilty,’ including at least one district administrator and a former Capistrano Valley H.S. administrator who benefited from these special funds created automatically (without the coach’s approval!) by sporting goods businesses,” Airey’s email states. “Why the arbitrary focus on just a few of our football coaches?”
Airey said he decided to write the email now because he recently heard Biehn’s pay was about to be suspended.