BY MAIRE O’NEILL
Los Alamos Public Schools Human Resources Director and Volleyball Head Coach Joseph Palmer reached out to parents and players in the volleyball program by email with what he called a follow-up to Supt. Jennifer Guy’s email regarding the investigation into “the events of Friday, August 18”. However, the elephant in the room remains the multiple reports the Los Alamos Reporter has received from parents and players regarding the alleged use of alcohol in the gym by members of the coaching staff.
An initial email to parents and players from LAPS Supt. Jennifer Guy did not mention alcohol and a second email went as far as to say the district thoroughly reviewed video footage from the event and interviewed staff, parents and students.
“We were not able to identify clear evidence of possession of alcohol on campus,” Guy said.
She went on to say that in the course of the investigation issues with lack of adult supervision were identified and that to the extent that any wrongdoing by staff present had been identified, appropriate action had been taken. See: https://losalamosreporter.com/2023/08/24/laps-investigates-allegations-of-adult-misconduct-at-high-school-volleyball-lock-in-friday-night/ and https://losalamosreporter.com/2023/08/24/laps-supt-jennifer-guy-comments-on-allegations-of-misconduct-by-members-of-coaching-staff-during-fridays-volleyball-lock-in/.
Los Alamos Deputy Police Chief Oliver Morris confirmed to the Los Alamos Reporter late last week that LAPD was conducting an investigation into the possible use of alcohol on campus during the event. Possession or consumption of alcohol on a school campus is a misdemeanor offense.
LAPS has not indicated what disciplinary action may have been imposed on staff involved in the lock-in, however the district’s human resources director Joe Palmer who also has served as the head coach for the volleyball program for several years issued the following message to parents and players announcing his suspension for 30 days from coaching. Palmer neither confirmed nor denied the allegations of alcohol use by coaching staff.
Palmer said, “I want to start by apologizing for the breach of trust that occurred. I always thank you for entrusting your athletes and on Friday evening that trust was broken. I take accountability for the program; thus, the lack of supervision and attention that evening was ultimately my responsibility. I believe the decisions about the events of the evening made by the district administration are appropriate. Today I was able to speak with and apologize to my players. I shared that the consequences of my actions resulted in a 30-day suspension from coaching, during this time I will not be present at practices or games. I know these young athletes with resiliency, support of one another and under the leadership of Coach Passalacqua will begin their seasons as united and cohesive teams. I ask for your continued support of our athletes and the allowance to build back your trust.”
Parents and students have been reaching out to the Los Alamos Reporter since discussion of the incident first hit the community early last week. Some parents have indicated that their players felt “uncomfortable” during the event. Others have mentioned the reluctance of their players to report what they observed for fear of retaliation or the future of the team’s season. No parents or players have as yet reached out to the Reporter to deny that alcohol use was observed at the lock-in. It is not yet clear what statements by parents and players to the district officials and LAPD have indicated.
School Board president Tony Jaurigue has not commented on the situation. Sources tell the Reporter that replacement coaches will be stepping up as needed as the volleyball teams head into their season. Some 48 players were present at the August 18 lock-in.