Marana High School Principal Jan Truitt last week denied Marc Acker's appeal to remain the school's varsity girls basketball coach.

Acker was appealing a decision by Marana Unified School District officials in early April to not renew his basketball contract following allegations by students of sexual harassment.

Although an investigation conducted by MUSD Assistant Superintendent Richard Lesko and attorney Shefali Milczarek-Desai found there was no evidence of sexual harassment, it did conclude that Acker had engaged in conduct that "did not meet the standards expected by the district," Milczarek-Desai said at the time.

The complaints centered on Acker's use of the terms "lesbian" and "bisexual" when referring to his players. The investigation also revealed that the girls on the team had teased Acker about his sexuality.

Wade Lewis, who had one daughter on Acker's team, and Clay Parsons, who had two daughters on the team, brought the allegations to the district. The investigation involved interviewing Acker, two assistant coaches and nine players, said Milczarek-Desai.

Public records requests by the Northwest EXPLORER for copies of the complaints, as well as copies of the results of the investigation, were denied by Milczarek-Desai and the district.

"When you are talking about sexual harassment complaints, this is something the district has to do to make sure that future students will understand that complaints will be kept confidential because we don't want to freeze out any other possible complaints," said Milczarek-Desai.

Truitt confirmed May 2 that she had given Acker a letter April 30 denying his appeal. Neither Acker nor his lawyer, Dan Cooper, returned calls seeking a copy of the denial, and Truitt refused to release it to the Northwest EXPLORER.

Truitt said Acker said nothing during her meeting with him denying his appeal and she had not heard further from his lawyer. Lesko said district policy states that coaches serve "at the will of the building principal" so Acker cannot appeal to the MUSD governing board.

Acker will remain a math teacher at MHS where he currently teaches geometry, because there have been no allegations of inappropriate conduct in the classroom. The head of the MHS math department, Curt Lybeck, told the Northwest EXPLORER in late April that Acker is known through campus as "a very good teacher" with positive relationships with students whom he often tutors before and after school.

Acker had just completed his second season with the MHS girls varsity team and had led them to consecutive Class 4A Sonoran Region championships. He was receiving a stipend of $2,529 to coach the five-month basketball season. The job opening for varsity basketball coach will be posted this week, Truitt said.

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