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Artesia Basketball Coach Reinstated After Inquiry

District says parent's charges lacked evidence, but Pera will no longer be athletic director.

November 24, 2005|Eric Sondheimer | Times Staff Writer

The ABC Unified School District has reinstated Scott Pera as coach of the Artesia High boys' basketball team, saying that an 11-week investigation failed to substantiate allegations of rule violations within the program.

Pera, who was placed on paid leave in September, was back at practice Wednesday. He will return as a teacher but won't resume his duties as athletic director after the district recommended that job be separate from his coaching duties.

Pera declined to comment on his reinstatement.

"He doesn't wish to speak further [about] what is now in the past," said his attorney, Gary Stern. "He's happy to be reinstated. He doesn't want to revisit any of the issues again. He's moving forward."

Pera, entering his sixth season at Artesia, waited for more than two months to learn the outcome of an investigation that centered on allegations made by the mother of a 6-foot-11 center from a Denver high school. Angela Hall said Roy White, a club coach with ties to Artesia, had offered to pay rent and utilities and provide other financial considerations if her son, Ray, attended the school. Ray plays at Denver Mullen High.

White denied the allegation.

In a two-page news release, the ABC District said an independent investigator, whose interviews included 34 people individually and 18 in a group setting, indicated that "significant irregularities and mistakes were made, but the allegations from the parent lacked direct or collaborative evidence."

Said Angela Hall: "I'm pretty sad by it, but I'll live by it. I can look at myself in the mirror knowing I did the right thing."

Whether the Southern Section will sanction Artesia is uncertain. Commissioner Jim Staunton has yet to see the district's report and hopes to meet with Superintendent Gary Smuts to discuss the investigation next week, section spokesman Thom Simmons said.

In its news release, the ABC District wrote that, "the CIF commissioner continues to be troubled by some practices associated with the basketball program and has the right to take appropriate actions if violations are confirmed ..."

Hall said she had passed along information to the NCAA about her experiences last summer when her son played for RBC West, White's club team that had three Artesia players on its roster.

Among other conclusions of the investigator:

* The school "should tighten its use of facilities and fundraising procedures."

* The school and district "should consider removing any association with 'travel' or 'club' basketball activities."

* All donations intended for the basketball program "should be reviewed and approved by [school] or district administrators before being accepted."

Artesia, which opens its season Tuesday in the Redondo tournament, has its five leading scorers back from a team that finished 28-5, was runner-up in Southern Section Division III-AA, and advanced to the Southern California regional final of the state tournament.

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