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Former principal can coach football team despite state investigation into alleged misconduct

Former principal can coach football team despite state investigation into alleged misconduct

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN, Wis. (WKBT) - A former principal who voluntarily surrendered his administrator license after a state investigation into misconduct is working with students again. Aaron Amundson, from Prairie du Chien, has been hired again as a coach for a varsity football program. 

News 8 viewers from the Prairie du Chien area contacted us with their concerns. They questioned how he could hold this type of position despite allegations of misconduct involving student-athletes. 

Amundson, the former Bluff View Intermediate School principal, has held coaching positions since joining the district during the 1997 school year. Over the course of his more than 20-year tenure, Amundson was a coach for football, wrestling, baseball and track for middle and high school students. 

In a 2018 Department of Public Instruction investigation, the state agency alleged that Amundson had physically assaulted or used unreasonable force. He was also accused of bullying, harassing or degrading pupils while in his role as a teacher, principal and coach. 

The agency alleged that while serving as the high school wrestling coach during the 1999-2000 school year, Amundson put his hands around a student's neck using a hard grip. He allegedly told the student to "shut your f****** mouth" before releasing his grip.

In the notice, the DPI also said when Amundson served as the high school football coach during the 2016-17 school year, he grabbed a student by the facemask and pulled down forcefully, causing the student's head to jerk down. 

In a statement, school district administrator Bob Smudde said the district has allowed Amundson to volunteer as a coach for the program. 

"Background checks were completed, and Mr. Amundson has nothing prohibiting him from being a coach in our District," said Smudde in a statement. 

That's true. News 8 spoke an official from the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association. The only WIAA requirement is that coaches complete an online coaching course or fill out a form. The organization is not involved in the hiring of coaches or creating any codes of conduct; it's up to each district to make its own policies.

A DPI official said the agency does not have the authority to ban an individual from working for a school district, it only has authority over licenses, which Amundson does not need for this position.  

Both the WIAA and the DPI said the school districts get the final say about employment, so the Prairie du Chien School District made the decision to hire Amundson. 

The allegations from the Department of Public Instruction's investigation were detailed when the state served an Intent to Revoke notice. Amundson originally appealed but later voluntarily surrendered his administrator license. 

News 8 talked with Amundson, who released this statement:

"I acknowledge I am coaching football for the PdC School District as I have done for the past 23 years.  We have a great team with some tremendous young men.  I hope you can see us play.  Finally, I would like to give WKBT an exclusive scoop that I intend to coach 7th-grade boys basketball, serve as a commissioner for the PdC Little League, and volunteer to help the youth of PdC.  I hope I have given you this additional information in a timely fashion so you can report on all of these items at once versus needing to log multiple reports."

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