Kaytlin Donaldson, a standout pitcher on Ceres High School's varsity softball team for the past two seasons, has transferred to Waterford.
"We couldn't wait anymore," said Donnie Donaldson, Kaytlin's father and ousted Bulldogs leader. "I'm getting her out of a hostile environment. She'll adapt."
Donaldson, head coach of the Bulldogs for the past eight seasons, was fired on June 16 by Ceres High principal Linda Stubbs.
Donnie filed an official complaint against Stubbs through the Ceres Unified School District office last month.
Donaldson and former Bulldog assistant coach Joel Broumas met with Stubbs, Ceres High athletic director Shawna Nunes and Kronick Moskovitz Tiedemann & Girard associate attorney Kristianne Seargeant on July 24.
An impartial investigation will be conducted and a report will be issued.
The process will take several months.
"She got the whole story with a bunch of e-mails and information I compiled," Donaldson said. "I'm supposed to get a report. She was fact finding to see if there was any conspiracy. It would be a tough setting to work in if I was reinstated. Personally, I don't see it happening. None of this would have happened if I was a teacher at the school. I would have had the backing of the teacher's union. But I'm a walk-on coach. They messed up. This is going to be talked about for 20-30 years."
Donnie alleges Nunes used her position of power to prompt an investigation which ultimately led to his firing.
Donaldson said Nunes forced him to promote three underclassmen, including her daughter, to varsity following tryouts.
Nunes' daughter played in two games before being moved down to JV by her parents before Western Athletic Conference play started. She compiled a 1-0 record with 12 strikeouts and no walks in five innings.
"I picked the best players," said Donaldson, whose team had a 21-6 overall mark, placed fourth in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV playoffs and captured the WAC championship (12-0) in 2014. "The record proves it.
Practically every single player on my roster got better."
Nunes completed a CUSD Annual Coach Evaluation for Donaldson on June 23.
Performance assessment focused on instructional ability, rapport with students, professionalism, communication, equipment inventory and budget.
Donaldson met standards for instructional ability, rapport with students and equipment inventory.
He met standards but also needed improvement for budgeting.
He was given a not satisfactory rating for both professionalism and communication.
Nunes listed Donaldson's season highlights and areas of strength. In the areas of growth section, Nunes stated: "Donnie must follow proper procedures and ensure that all paperwork is submitted to the appropriate personnel prior to ordering merchandise. Donnie was not objective when evaluating personnel and nominating all-league players. He did not follow proper directions when completing the all-league nomination form and used non-league stats in two separate versions. It appeared stats were manipulated to promote one player over others."
When asked if any of what Donaldson and his supporters were saying about her was true, Nunes said: "That's the nature of the job. The other party can release whatever they want to say. The reasons for his removal had nothing to do with us. Linda Stubbs did the investigation and the district was happy with the findings. He was made aware of the reasons why he was released. When she (Stubbs), discussed it with me, I was in complete agreement. It's over and done with. We're moving on."
Stubbs offered the following reasons for termination according to Donaldson.
Donnie held unfair tryouts, showed unsportsmanlike contact by posting lopsided results, failed to turn in a backup purchase order request for the Ceres tournament and promoted his daughter.
"The worse piece of information they have placed in this file is that my own daughter is unworthy of pitcher of the year voted on by the other coaches of the WAC," Donnie stated. "No matter how this is said, there is a young adult involved in this and to make any student/athlete feel unworthy of any awards is flat out disgusting for an athletic director or principal."
Donnie sought input from then-Bulldog assistant coaches Joel Broumas and Dave Ward, Central Valley head coach Kristen Ghimenti and Pacheco leader Charlie Pikas prior to nominating Kaytlin for WAC Pitcher of the Year.
Kaytlin and fellow Bulldog freshman pitcher Rayohna Sagapolu both compiled identical 6-0 records in WAC play.
Sagapolu, a first-team all-league pick, had a slightly better ERA (0.42/0.68) and strikeout total (40/34) during her inaugural season with the Bulldogs.
Donaldson was a second-year varsity player.
"I feel like it's my fault," Kaytlin said following Donnie's dismissal. "If I didn't get put up for pitcher of the year, he wouldn't have got fired. Honestly, I didn't think they were going to do it because of how great of a season we had. He's a good coach. People look up to him as a father figure as well. I'm hoping he gets reinstated. If not, I'll most likely be transferring to another school. I don't want to be around the people that have done this to him. They make me feel like I don't deserve the award. I've worked hard for everything I have."
Kaytlin started her junior year at Waterford High School on Aug. 4.
She had a cumulative GPA of 3.7 at Ceres High.
Donaldson also considered enrolling at Central Valley, Johansen, Enochs and Gregori. "Kaytlin's grandma (Kathy Chavez) is a counselor at the school," Donnie said.
"She's going to a place where she'll feel comfortable. She'll have a similar academic schedule to what she'd have at Ceres High. She's an AP student. She will have to sit out the first 30 days for both volleyball and softball if hardship is not granted. She'll be fine. She'll bounce back. She still has all next year of eligibility."
Donaldson's main positon at Ceres High was pitcher. She also logged playing time in the infield and outfield.
Kaytlin will reunite with travel ball teammate Kylie Ragsdale at Waterford.
Ragsdale led the Wildcats to a 15-4-1 overall record, the Southern League crown and Division-VI playoff berth in 2014.
"I was a student there (Ceres Unified School District)," Donnie Donaldson said. "All four of my kids have gone to school there. It absolutely kills me. I've been a Bulldog supporter all my life. Personally, I don't even want to walk on campus. I still love the kids. You only get four years of high school. I want them to be successful. If the players stay, the foundation has been set. I just can't support the administration anymore. I'll cut ties for a while. They're going to be under a microscope this year. I absolutely know what the truth is. They're not going to talk about it anymore."
Ceres High posted a 139-77 record, qualified for the postseason six times and won two league titles under Donaldson's guidance. The Bulldogs placed fourth in the section playoffs the past three years.