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Minnetonka Girls Basketball Coach Steps Away After Student Dispute Involving 'Derogatory Words'

MINNETONKA, Minn. (WCCO) — The head coach of Minnetonka High School's girls basketball team is stepping away following an incident involving "accusations of hurtful and derogatory words," a school spokesperson said.

Varsity head coach Leah Dasovich will not coach the remainder of the season, school officials said.

"For the health and well-being of our student-athletes, as well as for that of my family, I have made the difficult decision to step away for the remainder of the year as head girls basketball coach," Dasovich said in a statement. "I want to share with our student-athletes and their parents that while this situation and decision are devastating for me and my family, our student-athletes deserve to have a strong and safe finish to their season."

Dasovich is also a teacher in the district, and a spokesperson confirmed she remains in that role.

In an email to students and families, Minnetonka High School Principal Jeff Erickson said "there was a dispute between some of our students — which has now circulated and been fueled on social media — involving accusations of hurtful and derogatory words."

Erickson added that school officials will "continue to work through that situation with the students involved and their families."

"I ask that all other students and parents step back and allow us to work closely with those involved in the situation and to not make accusations or assumptions about what you believe might have transpired or what actions the administration may be taking or not taking," Erickson said. "It is unproductive and can be harmful to all involved."

Nearly two dozen students from other schools protested outside Minnetonka High School for several hours Wednesday.

"It's not about us, it's about getting the right thing done," said Chase Garcia, a Junior at Minnetonka High School, who says he himself has had issues at the school before. "If I need to suffer consequences, if I need to get in trouble, I'm willing to do it."

A school spokesperson said, in the past, Minnetonka High School "has used an agreement students involved in a dispute sign to say they will not engage with each other … to help diffuse the tension between students while the administration helps to resolve a matter between students." The spokesperson said, as of this week, the school will no longer use those agreements.

An assistant coach will take over for Dasovich in the interim, a school spokesperson said.

The families of the students involved say they've retained an attorney, but did not say if they planned to file suit.

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