May 30, 2024
Column: Unless there is something we don’t know, Jacobs’ track record is strong enough for a second chance.

SAN JOSÉ — It has been a couple of weeks since the first text message and phone call arrived from Branham High School sources, bringing to our attention a change.org petition that was launched in support of their longtime athletic director, Landon Jacobs, who had just lost his job.

Sources wanted to know why the move was happening to a man who had helped build Branham’s athletic program into a model of how things can be successfully done at a large-city public school.

The supporters signed the petition. They filled up the district office at a school board meeting, with several speaking with passion and frustration during time set aside for public comments. They filed a formal complaint to the district, presumably providing some clarity about why Jacobs was removed from the job he held at the San Jose school for 14 years while demanding his return and that the principal be dismissed.

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If there is another side to this story, it remains largely untold, which is not uncommon. In most cases of this nature, school officials reply publicly with the standard, “We don’t discuss personnel matters.”

But not once during the Branham saga have we heard, on or off the record, that Jacobs deserved what he got, that he was bad at his job, that he made such an egregious act of malpractice that Principal Lindsay Schubert had no choice but to remove him.

We have spoken to athletic sources from other schools, who praised Jacobs for what he has done at Branham.

Can that many people be wrong?

Can Jacobs’ actions have been so bad that he could no longer be athletic director?

He was provided an opportunity to teach history at another school in the district, Del Mar.

Jacobs declined the reassignment.

Instead, he confirmed on Friday to the Bay Area News Group’s Nathan Canilao, who has been all over the story, that he reapplied for his old job.

The AD opening was posted on April 5 and shared via a text to me by a Branham source that night.

Jacobs has not shed much light himself about the situation. He initially said that he didn’t know why he was dismissed. At the school board meeting a week later, he said in an interview with the Bay Area News Group that he was told the decision was based on performance.

Friday, when asked about allegations in the formal complaint that he misused school funds, Jacobs said, “There hasn’t been any communication from the district or the principal about my removal from the AD position.”

As unfortunate as the whole situation has become – and it most likely isn’t over – neither side has emerged unscathed.

The complaint accuses the principal of stonewalling fundraising efforts and not supporting athletics, among other things. It also suggests the reasons for the discord between the principal and the athletic department are misappropriation of Associated Student Body funds and failure to adhere to financial policies.

The complaint claims that the infractions in Jacobs’ case were not repeated and assistant athletic director Heather Cooper, who was removed last fall, was not given a chance to correct an error.

Cooper has returned to Branham to coach volleyball but hasn’t responded to requests by Canilao for an interview with the Bay Area News Group.

A source told Canilao that Campbell Union High School District superintendent Robert Bravo has 30 days to formally respond to the complaint and that the issues raised in the 12-page document can’t be included on the board’s agenda until he does.

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The source added that Bravo had 14 clarifying questions in the complaint that he wants answered before he issues a response.

The complaint was submitted last week and confirmed by Board of Trustees president Jason Baker to have been received. The last scheduled board meeting of the school year is May 16.

Let’s hope something can be worked out before it’s too late.

Good athletic directors are not easy to find and, according to sources, the job demands for the position have never been harder.

Unless there is something we do not know, which is possible, Jacobs’ track record is strong enough for a second chance.

We’ll see if he gets one.

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