Flagstaff Unified School District is conducting an internal investigation into complaints about former Coconino Panthers baseball manager Daniel Vander Valk and his coaching staff, a lawyer representing the district confirmed to the Arizona Daily Sun this week.
Vander Valk and Coconino High School mutually agreed to make the change on Jan. 20 that he and his staff would not be with the program moving forward. No details were shared at the time as to why the coach stepped down so close to the start of the spring season.
FUSD denied a public records request from the Daily Sun on Feb. 1. The request asked for all complaints about Vander Valk or members of his coaching staff that have been sent to FUSD and Coconino High School.
FUSD said the request was denied because the district is actively investigating the complaints using a third-party investigator. A lawyer representing FUSD said in an email the request was denied because of a specific Arizona law that permits the delay or refusal of filling a records request if “inspection might lead to substantial and irreparable private or public harm."
The lawyer said releasing the documents could hinder the investigation. The Daily Sun has been told by both the lawyer and an FUSD spokesperson that there will be a follow-up regarding the records request whenever the investigation is completed -- or when they can appropriately do so.
No hard timeline of completion was stated by the district or the lawyer, only that the Daily Sun would be notified when the documents could be disclosed or when there is further information that can be shared to the public.
“The District will fully comply with all legal requirements regarding production of public records, but the District must also ensure that such disclosure does not interfere with the District’s obligation to conduct a fair and unbiased investigation regarding complaints against faculty and staff,” the lawyer wrote in a letter dated Thursday.
Coconino hired Vander Valk’s replacement, Dalton Schwetz, this week with about a month remaining until the season starts. Schwetz's hire is still pending FUSD board approval despite Coconino sending out an announcement to families on Tuesday.