The O’Fallon Township High School District 203 Board of Education was set to discuss the permanent dismissal of former baseball coach Jason Portz, who in September was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation into his use of program funds.
But Portz beat the board to the punch by submitting his letter of resignation Nov. 14. The board voted to accept it Tuesday night.
“The Administration was in the process of scheduling a hearing to recommend the dismissal of Mr. Portz as an employee of OTHS at the time the resignation letter was submitted to District officials,” according to a district release. “Because of the potential significant costs that can result from a tenured teacher dismissal proceeding and potential appeal, the Administration recommended, and the Board of Education agreed, that the best action for OTHS was to accept Mr. Portz’s resignation and to move forward with its mission of educating students.”
Portz did not return calls requesting comment.
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Money raised through the Diamond Boosters through an annual golf scramble, dinner dance, silent auctions and other fundraising events is deposited to the school’s activity fund, which is separate from its general operating budget.
Spending oversight is provided by the district’s finance office and is subject to an annual audit. Superintendent Darcy Benway has said she has in the past reviewed the baseball team’s ledger personally and saw nothing out of the ordinary.
Portz has been under investigation by the Illinois Attorney General’s office since April in connection with alterations that were made to the pressbox at the city-owned Blazier Field in Community Park.
Unfinished space on the upper level of the structure were completed with locker room, shower and restroom facilities without city permits or knowledge of the OTHS administration.
The additional square footage triggered Illinois Accessibility and Americans with Disabilities Act codes. Compliance will mean installing a wheelchair lift or demolishing the finished space to return the building to its previous condition.
FGM Architects estimated the cost of bringing the locker room to code at between $65,000 and $80,000, Benway said. The district paid $3,700 for the inspection.
Without providing specifics, Capt. Kirk Brueggeman confirmed that the O’Fallon Police Department is investigating at the request of the school district.
“The OTHS Administration and Board of Education will continue to fully cooperate with the O’Fallon Police Department as they further investigate this issue,” the district release stated.
Emails obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and shared with the BND show that Portz also had been reprimanded for sharing information about individual player physicals with other team parents.
Following his team’s loss to Chicago Sandburg in the IHSA Class 4A Super-Sectional, Portz resigned as coach for “personal reasons.” In October, he was placed on administrative leave from his position as a health, physical education and driver’s education teacher.
Joe Bauer, previously an assistant coach at O’Fallon and Southwestern Illinois College, was hired to replace Portz as head baseball coach in August.