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Damien Memorial School president will not return after dismissing football, basketball coaches

  • COURTESY PHOTO
                                Damien Memorial School president Brother Brian Walsh

    COURTESY PHOTO

    Damien Memorial School president Brother Brian Walsh

  • STAR-ADVERTISER / 2019
                                Damien head coach Eddie Klaneski looked on from the sideline during the second half of a high school football game against Kailua at Aloha Stadium.

    STAR-ADVERTISER / 2019

    Damien head coach Eddie Klaneski looked on from the sideline during the second half of a high school football game against Kailua at Aloha Stadium.

Damien Memorial School has released its football and boys basketball coaches and reassigned its athletic director in a shakeup involving as many as 20 employees.

This evening, in a letter addressed to “members of the Damien Memorial School community,” it was announced school president Brother Brian Walsh would not be returning to the school. It was Walsh who dismissed many of the staff members, including several in the athletic department.

The school’s principal, Dr. Kyle Atabay, has been named head of the school for the 2020-2021 school year, according to a Hawaii News Now report citing the letter. The search for a new school president will occur during the fall, the TV station reported the letter as saying.

Prior to the dismissal, Walsh explained the decision to dismiss several head coaches, including football’s Eddie Klaneski and boys basketball’s Alvin Stephenson.

“Given all the guidance that is being provided by authorities on the reopening of schools, all of which indicates a probable change in the number of teams that will be fielded, the length of each season and presence or absence of spectators, it seemed in the best interest of all involved in our athletic program and of the school, to inform some coaches that at the present time a position is not available,” Walsh said in a news release.

Klaneski is a former University of Hawaii football standout who played both defensive back and receiver. Stephenson led the Monarchs to the Division II state championship in 2019. The girls volleyball program also was impacted, although Don Faumuina retired after Damien won the Division II state title last year.

Rudy Alejo has been reassigned from athletic director, a position he held the past year, to full-time teacher. Alejo has been with Damien since 1973.

“In specific reference to the athletic director, if the duties of the office were to be reduced from full to part time, in deference to Mr. Alejo’s long years of service, it was felt wise to have him return to his full time teaching position,” Walsh said in the release.

Walsh cited school policy in not providing specifics about individuals terminated.

“Some coaches are employed as full time Damien Memorial staff members,” Walsh said. “School policy is that personnel decisions concerning full time staff members are never discussed.”

In May, Walsh was involved in a virtual graduation ceremony controversy when he reversed course after abruptly canceling the school’s virtual graduation ceremony when students petitioned for an in-person gathering in the summer.

Walsh sent a terse email to seniors and their parents informing them that none of the school’s commencement events would take place as a result of the students’ letter, which was signed by 42 of the 91 members of the class of 2020.

But then a school counselor followed up the following day with another email on behalf of Walsh, this one just to the graduates, that offered to restore the graduation ceremony if the student petitioners recanted.

Walsh’s history as a high school administrator includes serv­ice twice as president, three times as principal, dean of students and department chairman at four high schools in the states of Rhode Island, New Jersey and New York, according to the Damien website.

He has a master’s of science degree in secondary school education from Seton Hall University and a master’s of arts degree in education from Nazareth College. He also has a bachelor of science degree in science education from Iona College. He entered the Congregation of Christian Brothers in 1962 after graduating from high school.

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Star-Advertiser staff contributed to this story

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