Amprey explains Pompey stance

August 09, 1994|By Lem Satterfield and Gary Gately | Lem Satterfield and Gary Gately,Sun Staff Writers

Baltimore schools Superintendent Walter G. Amprey cites "inappropriate behaviors, poor judgment and not handling funds properly" among the reasons why he won't allow Pete Pompey to return as Dunbar's athletic director or coach of its basketball or football teams.

"Far too much focus has been placed on putting Pete Pompey or any coach in a certain school," Amprey said yesterday. "But there's been so much controversy around this that my thinking is that I want Pete to have a fresh start [at another school] as a physical education teacher."

Pompey, 54, came under investigation 13 months ago, when school officials discovered several thousand dollars was missing from a Dunbar-operated concession stand that Pompey supervised at Camden Yards. Pompey was placed on paid administrative leave and spent the past school year working on a middle school tutoring program and other assignments.

On Friday, the Baltimore state's attorney's office announced it would not pursue criminal charges against Pompey.

However, State's Attorney Stuart O. Simms criticized Pompey's bookkeeping as having "a pattern and practice of undocumented expenditures, poor management and an avoidance of accountability."

Simms has passed the investigation's findings, which included a review of about 800 checks from four bank accounts, to city school administrators.

"Now, it's back in my lap, and there's plenty there that we have to address," Amprey said. "I can't comment on the specifics, but there appears to be several violations of school policy."

Amprey said the case is in the hands of the school board's lawyers. Neither chief counsel Avery Aisenstark, of the board's education division, nor his assistant, Sandra Holmes, could be reached for comment yesterday.

Asked if there was even the slightest chance that Pompey could return to Dunbar, Amprey responded, "I don't know, but I think this is a good example of how far we have strayed from our focus as a school system.

"We should be talking about what's best for our kids instructionally," he said. "That's where I'm going to focus first, with athletics and coaching secondarily."

On Saturday, Pompey and his attorney, William H. Murphy Jr., said they had requested a meeting with Amprey during which they would demand Pompey's return to Dunbar.

Neither Pompey nor Murphy could be reached yesterday.

"He [Murphy] called me . . . and said they were having a press conference," Amprey said. "We did have dialogue, and I agreed to have a meeting about the issues around this -- and I plan to do that with [a school board lawyer present.]"

Amprey said he leaves for vacation today and won't return until Monday, so the meeting is likely to take place next week.

"My role would be just to hear them out, and what is done will depend on what is actually being requested," Amprey said.

Amprey said he doesn't need school board approval for transferring teachers.

Still, he said he will seek the board's blessing to move Pompey to another school.

"A good coach, if he's going to coach, can coach at any school with young people," Amprey said. "We don't have to keep focusing on Dunbar being No. 1. What needs to be done here is to put the right people in the right jobs."

Pompey, who replaced Bob Wade in 1986, coached the Poets basketball team to a 29-0 record in 1992 and a No. 1 national ranking by USA Today, which also chose him Coach of the Year.

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