Michigan law forces retired teachers to stop coaching

Published: Oct. 21, 2022 at 6:16 PM EDT
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EAST LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Michigan has a shortage of coaches at K-12 schools across the state. And ironically, a law meant to help schools deal with staff shortages is making things worse.

Pat Murray was a Cross Country and Track and Field Coach at East Lansing High School. After 20 years, he learned over the summer he won’t be able to return in the fall.

“Mostly I felt like I was letting them down for some reason,” Murray said. “You know those athletes that I worked with from their freshman year and not wanting to leave them hanging without me on their senior year and then thinking that I have to do that was really frustrating.”

The issue is a new state law written to allow retired teachers to come back to work to help to deal with the shortage around the state.

It requires them to be retired for at least nine months before taking a job with school - even a coaching job. They have to sit out for nine months to avoid cuts to their pensions.

Geoff Kimmerly with Michigan High School Athletic Association said the law is unintentionally targeting retirees who want to continue coaching.

“This isn’t a new thing we have many coaches who stick around to coach for years and years after they’re done teaching it’s a great way to keep these very knowledgeable people teaching these life lessons, as part of our school systems, benefiting our children so we really need to figure out a way to make that happen still.”

East Lansing’s athletic director Nicole Norris said it’s a problem for more than just coaches.

“At any given time, we’re trying to find substitute teachers, we’re trying to find officials, we’re trying to find coaches and without being able to pull from that pool we’re even farther behind than we would be.”

Coach Murray and others are hoping to see a wavier passed to allow coaches to get back on the field. At this moment coaches are still able to volunteer their time.

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