Fired Coach Still a Topic at BHUSD Board of Ed. Meeting

On Dec. 6, the Beverly Hills Unified School District (BHUSD) Board of Education meeting was packed for the second time with dozens of students, parents, and community members, all of whom had come to ask the board to bring back the high school wrestling coach, Ryan Faintich. As reported by the Courier in its Nov. 25 issue, Faintich was fired after 11 years when a video surfaced of him pushing a student. In the video, Faintich is seen in an altercation with a male student on campus and ultimately pushed the student several times. For almost two hours, the board heard passionate testimonies about the coach; many described him as a mentor, helping students succeed both on and off the mat. The first to speak during public comment was Faintich. 

“I have apologized,” Faintich said. “At the same time, I feel that I was clear that I was trying my best to do what I believe in my heart was right to protect my kids. If you look at the school district’s website and you go to the anti-bullying page, it says ‘school employees shall establish student safety as a high priority and shall not tolerate bullying of any student.'” 

Since early November, the public has urged the board to reevaluate the situation and hear all sides of the incident. In recent weeks, many students who witnessed the event came forward to provide firsthand accounts of the situation. According to multiple students, the student Faintich pushed had bullied a wrestling student. 

“Furthermore, it says, ‘school staff who witness bullying shall immediately intervene to stop the incident,” read Faintich. “Further down, ‘school staff shall receive related professional development including information about early warning signs of harassing, intimidating behaviors and effective prevention and intervention strategies.'”

“I didn’t receive it,” Faintich added. “So, here’s what I did receive. I received a warning, in my head and in my heart, and I felt that my wrestlers, the thing that matter most to me in this world, were threatened by a person who had committed and admitted to doing violence to one of my wrestlers the day before.”

A wide array of people came to advocate for Faintich, from alums spanning a decade of graduating classes to 8th graders at Beverly Vista Middle School, and even Beverly Hills High School class of 2021 valedictorian (and wrestling team captain), who joined virtually from his dorm room at Brown University to speak on behalf of Faintich’s character. 

“I would not call myself Coach Ryan Faintich’s friend,” said Jason O’Hara, head wrestling coach at Torrance High School. “We do not hang out. We’re not drinking buddies…I tell you this because I want you to understand that I’m not here talking to you all because I have my friend’s back. I’m here talking to you all because it is the right thing to do.”

The decision to remove Faintich disappointed many members of the BHUSD community, who feel the coach’s actions did not warrant his termination after 11 years of employment in the district.  “This is injustice,” said one parent.

“I don’t think I’m alone in saying that I will show up to support him as many times as you allow me to,” another parent said.

“We don’t stay on our backs,” said a female wrestling student. “So, we’ll show up again.”

At the next meeting on Dec. 13, the board will hold its organizational meeting for the installation of the 2022-23 officers: President Noah Margo, Vice President Dr. Amanda Stern, Mary Wells, Rachelle Marcus, and newly elected Judy Manouchehri.