Track Coach Fired After She Went to Prom With a 17-Year-Old Student

Illustration for article titled Track Coach Fired After She Went to Prom With a 17-Year-Old Student

If you were a married woman who worked with children, you think you'd know better than to go to the prom with one of your students. But apparently Melissa Bowerman, 41, did not. She and her husband Jon Bowerman, 73, are the volunteer track coaches at a small high school in Eastern Oregon. In a strange twist, Bowerman also happens to be the daughter-in-law of the late Bill Bowerman, who co-founded a little shoe company called Nike. Anyway, Melissa Bowerman made the odd choice to go to prom with one of the 17-year-old boys she coaches, because she felt bad that he didn't have a date and he'd been doing poorly in his English class. She said,

If they go on (academic) probation and suspension, then they can't go to the track meets. I said, "OK, I will go with you, but we've got to talk about English first. You're going to do better in English."


You can tell she meant well, and the boy's father even agreed to let him go with her. He explained,

The first thing I thought, "Maybe this isn't a good idea." But Melissa has been like a surrogate mom to these kids for years.

Yes, and everybody wants to go to the prom with their mother-figure... Bowerman admits she made an "error in judgment" but swears that nothing is going on between her and the boy. She said they "danced to a few slow songs but mostly played ping pong and foosball," but it still caught the eye of a chaperone, who reported it to the sheriff. After an investigation, it's been found that Bowerman hasn't broken any laws. Nevertheless, no matter how she meant it, it looks awfully weird. As a result, she has been asked to "un-volunteer" from her position. Now her husband is furious, and he's saying he'll resign too—and maybe even sell his property and move away. According to him, "The only thing we've done wrong is build them a new track and get uniforms and build them a powerhouse program." Well, that and your wife went on a date with a 17-year-old student.

Ore. track coach takes student to prom, loses job [AP]

Image via bikeriderlondon/Shutterstock.


Seize: it's about ethics in gossip journalism

It seems shitty to penalize someone for what seems like such an innocent and well-meaning action, but seriously - this was dumb. When you're working with at-risk kids, you must be above reproach. By ensuring that everyone who works with kids is adhering to a high standard of behavior, you make it much harder for people with dishonest motives to get access to kids.

So, was what she did "wrong" in a grand moral sense? Doesn't sound like it. Was it worthy of harsh disciplinary action? Absolutely.