Leechburg Area replaces standout softball coach, who was cited for shoving student
The winningest coach in Leechburg Area history was cited for shoving a student four months before he was relieved of his softball coaching duties.
Jim Oberdorf, 70, of West Leechburg was replaced last week as Leechburg Area High School's softball coach after 32 years. He leaves as the district's most successful coach ever, with 544 career wins, two state championships and three WPIAL titles.
For the past seven years, Oberdorf also worked as a bus driver for W.L. Roenigk Inc., which Leechburg Area contracts for its transportation services.
In April, according to Leechburg police, Oberdorf shoved a 16-year-old student on his bus and used an obscenity. The bus, which was parked on Siberian Avenue behind the school buildings, was full of students at the time.
Leechburg police cited Oberdorf for harassment and disorderly conduct, both summary offenses.
He was found guilty of harassment before District Judge James Andring in July and ordered to pay a $200 fine. The judge found him not guilty of disorderly conduct.
Jean Stull, Leechburg Area School Board president, would not say on Wednesday whether the April incident was the primary reason the board did not renew Oberdorf's contract.
“The board cannot speak publicly on personnel matters,” Stull said. “I want to make it clear, though, that in my mind (Oberdorf) wasn't fired.
“Any supplemental position is a year-to-year position, and the board reserves the right to retain or not retain any of the people that serve those positions each year. This was a softball decision.”
Oberdorf will be replaced by Debbi Young, a district elementary school teacher, junior varsity volleyball coach and cheerleading coach. The board was drawn to Young, according to Stull, for her involvement with the Amateur Softball Association and her ability to assist her players with college recruiting.
“After we interviewed (Young), we felt really good about it,” she said. “We thought it was time to give someone a chance.”
Stull said the board was made aware of Oberdorf's incident shortly after it happened. Since Oberdorf was a Roenigk employee, she said, the board took no action. Officials did not contact the company to bar Oberdorf from Leechburg Area bus routes.
Oberdorf said he resigned from Roenigk shortly after the incident for unrelated personal reasons. Company co-owner Sue Roenigk confirmed that Oberdorf had resigned.
His last check was delivered April 17. The bus incident occurred seven days earlier.
Oberdorf did not deny pushing the student or using an obscenity. He said the incident was the culmination of three days worth of harassment from the student.
“For three days he was harassing me, calling me a ‘tough guy,' ” he said. “I kept telling him I didn't appreciate that talk on my bus. On Thursday, he walked past me and said something.
“When I stood up, he turned around really quickly and said something or did something and I ‘checked' him to get away from me.”
Oberdorf said he used profanity “because it's the language of kids these days and (he) wanted to deliver the message.”
The student, Jacob Jendrejewski of West Leechburg, declined to comment but requested to be identified. The Valley News Dispatch typically does not reveal the names of minors in sensitive situations.
Jendrejewski's mother, Charlene Hinko, said Oberdorf's accusations against her son are false, noting that he should have filed cross harassment charges if they were legitimate.
“It's unacceptable under any circumstances to put your hands on a child,” Hinko said. “When any parent puts their child on the bus in the morning, they always hope that they'll return safely and that they're in no way verbally or physically abused in any way.
“The last thing any parent would expect is that a teacher, bus driver or cafeteria worker would assault their child in this manner.”
Braden Ashe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4673 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Springdale trestle bridge deemed structurally sound
- Alle-Kiski Valley deemed medically underserved
- New Kensington woman struck by vehicle, injured
- Rural residents need medical specialist services
- Burrell honors sports heavyweight Butch Liput with scholarship
- January temperatures, snowfall unremarkable in Western Pennsylvania
- Saxonburg Area Artists Cooperative closes its doors
- Burrell wrestling wins 9th consecutive WPIAL title
- Arnold officer injured in attempt to detain suspect
- Pittsburgh Street in Springdale closed until Monday
- Army Corps of Engineers asks for more input on Parks Township nuclear dump plans