Oxford coach’s removal puzzles supporters

By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal

OXFORD – Supporters of Jamie Perkins are in the dark as to why the popular soccer and track coach was relieved of his coaching duties early this month, but school officials say they are not at liberty to explain the action.
In his four years as a coach at Oxford High School, Perkins led the Chargers to their first state title in boys’ soccer this year and to three state titles in girls’ track.
Several students stationed themselves on the high school campus Tuesday for a petition drive aimed at reinstating Perkins, who remains employed as a math teacher at the district’s alternative school. If that effort fails, they at least want to understand what happened.
“Right now, we don’t know,” said Tias Hilliard, a rising sophomore at OHS. “We’re signing the petition so we can get him back. When we had the meeting, they just wanted us to come to tell us (that Perkins was no longer coaching), but they won’t give us any answers. We’re hearing different things, and we just want the truth.”
Because the team currently has no coach, summer practices are suspended, Hilliard said, although several older players are leading informal practices “just to stay together as a team.”
Susan Watson was one of the petition signers.
“My son, Judson, played soccer for the Oxford team for six years, and the whole family adores Coach Perkins. He did a lot for Judson, did a lot for the team, and I just want him to get a fair shake,” she said, crediting him for her son’s college soccer career.
put stop to rumors
Watson said the school district owes answers to parents and students.
“There’s too much rumor; I’ve seen a lot of hurt feelings,” she said. “Judson graduated last year, and he went on to play college soccer, and that wouldn’t have happened without Coach Perkins.
“Everything I ever saw him do for the team was in the interest of his kids and the team,” Susan Watson said. “I have no earthly idea what might have happened.”
Answers will probably be hard to come by.
Oxford Superintendent of Education Brian Harvey said the decision to remove Perkins from coaching was not an arbitrary one. Forbidden by law from giving specifics of the case, he said, “Personnel decisions in general are made when all the evidence is taken into account, and we felt we did that.”
Harvey said the district is seeking a new soccer coach, who will conduct tryouts for the team in the fall.
Perkins did not return repeated calls from the Daily Journal.
errol.castens@journalinc.com