Principal takes blame for player#039;s ineligibility

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 29, 2005

BROOKLYN (AP) - A high school principal has accepted responsibility for questionable work-study credits given to a member of the school's football team that kept him eligible to play and will leave the school district next year.

The controversy led the football team to forfeit four wins - its only victories of the season and the first in two years.

Gretchen Derethik, 51, who has been principal of Brooklyn High School since 1998, will remain on sick leave until her contract expires in July, according to an agreement with the school district.

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‘‘The outcome was the best for the school district and its students,'' Superintendent Jefferey Lampert said.

The suburban Cleveland school gave the player retroactive work study credit for an afterschool fast-food job, Lampert said. But the student was not registered for a work-study program.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association received an anonymous letter in September accusing Derethik of fixing grades to keep three players eligible. That letter led to a school district investigation.

Lampert said grades were changed for the three students but state rules weren't broken. The district discovered the student with the work-study issue on its own.

In her agreement with the district, Derethik states that she accepts responsibility for the credits but goes no further. The agreement also states that Derethik will leave at the end of the school year in return for the district not seeking disciplinary action against her.

Derethik's lawyer, Susan Gragel, said that neither she nor Derethik would comment on the case.

Lampert said neither he, the school board, the athletic director nor the football coach pressured her to make changes to keep players eligible.