Longtime girls' lacrosse coach Jake McHerron wants an opportunity to clear his name.
The Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake School District placed McHerron on administrative leave May 17, just days before his varsity girls' lacrosse team was to play its first game in the Section II Class C tournament it eventually won. The leave technically ended when the season ended, McHerron said.
Before his suspension, McHerron had also been acting as a substitute physical education teacher in the BH-BL school district. He was nearing the end of his 10th season with the varsity team. His coaching resume includes a stint with the Siena College women's lacrosse team.
McHerron was suspended after the district received complaints that have not been revealed publicly. According to sources, at least one parent complained about hard practices.
"We have asked for a name-clearing hearing," McHerron said Friday afternoon. "I have done nothing wrong."
McHerron said is being represented by attorney Phillip G. Steck of the law firm Cooper, Erving and Savage, LLP. Steck is also representing BH-BL varsity assistant girls' lacrosse coach Marylou Vosburgh, who was placed on administrative leave along with McHerron.
"We have not received a response from the school district," said Steck, who also serves as a Democratic member of the New York State Assembly. "If they don't [respond], we will take them to court and force them to do it."
The BH-BL school district has released few details of the investigation. Steck said he could not even determine if the investigation is still ongoing or has been completed, or if McHerron is still head coach of the team.
"This is a personnel matter. Therefore, we are unable to provide further information," Tara Mitchell, the BH-BL school district's communication coordinator, emailed The Daily Gazette June 8.
McHerron said is unaware of the root of the investigation.
"I have no idea," McHerron said.
"You could call it a witch hunt," Steck said of the investigation. "It reminds me of 'The Crucible,' where one young woman accused an older person in the village of misbehavior and got other young ladies involved. It turned out not to be true."
Burnt Hills athletic director Joe Scalise served as the acting head coach for the varsity lacrosse team and led the Spartans to sectional wins over Scotia-Glenville and Albany Academy before a regional loss to Brewster.
McHerron's daughter, senior Abbie McHerron, was BH-BL's starting goalkeeper. She transferred from Scotia-Glenville to Burnt Hills for her final two years so she could play for her father.
"He [McHerron] couldn't come on the [Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake] premises," Steck said. "That is accusation, and with that comes speculation."
McHerron led his BH-BL teams to Section II titles in 2011, 2013, 2014 as well as last year, and his 2012 team was a sectional runner-up. His 2014 and 2017 editions also won regional titles and advanced to the state semifinals.
"My father coached," Steck said. "There will always be some people who like the coach and some people who don't."