COLUMBIA — After being absent from the school and the football program for nearly two weeks, Hickman head coach Arnel Monroe has been reinstated, according to a statement released by Columbia Public Schools spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark on Thursday morning.
"Arnel Monroe has returned to his teaching and coaching duties at Hickman High School and will be present for the senior night football game on Friday," Baumstark said in the release. "Recently, concerns regarding Coach Monroe were brought forth. As per standard procedure, Columbia Public Schools took this issue seriously and prioritized the well-being of students at the highest level. The matter was thoroughly reviewed. The school district is confident that Coach Monroe committed no wrongdoing and fully supports him as a member of the Hickman High School community."
Monroe, in his third year at the helm of the Kewpies, was absent from the team's 34-27 overtime win last Friday at Jackson. He was away from practice the full week leading up to the game and he was not at practice throughout the early part of this week.
"I'm grateful for the support the district has provided," Monroe said in a phone call Thursday afternoon. "I'm grateful we got through this thing as quickly as we could. I feel the district acted in the interest of students' well-being. I was confident that the results would be positive. We're ready to move on. I'm ready to move on to senior night."
Monroe's unclear status with the team emerged last week when reports included a text message sent to Hickman players' via CPS' alert system.
The text read:
"HHS and District administration understand that your children may be discussing issues that pertain to HHS football coaches. CPS takes all issues concerning your students' education very seriously. Please note that this issue is under review but that in compliance with state and federal law, the District is unable to provide additional information at this time. Be assured that the students are in excellent hands and that the games Thursday at Tipton (JV) and Friday at Jackson are proceeding as scheduled."
Monroe said he learned on Oct. 11, that he could not be involved at the school or program as the "issue" was "under review."
"Your life pauses for a minute," he said. "But I knew going into it that the outcome would be positive and I'm going to remain positive and move forward from this."
On Wednesday, Hickman athletic director Doug Mirts said Monroe's status was "uncertain" for Friday's game.
"It's senior week and homecoming week and everything else, so it's nice to have Arnel back on the property," Mirts said Thursday. "We want to move on from this and get to what it's all about, high school football, and have a fun Friday."
Earlier in the week, the administration declined comment on the matter.
"Personnel matters are confidential by law, and the district cannot comment," Baumstark wrote in an email Tuesday.
Monroe also declined to elaborate on the matter, saying also that it was "a personnel deal."
Monroe, a 1985 graduate of Hickman who said he had never missed a game in his 21 years on the coaching staff, described his relief in being able to be on the sidelines for Friday's homecoming game against Rockhurst.
"I'm a Hickman guy, so it would've been painful," he said. "It would've been just as painful as last week."
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