Less than two months after he was fired by D.C. Public Schools, Coolidge boys’ basketball Coach Vaughn Jones has been reinstated, effective immediately, following an order issued by a D.C. Superior Court Tuesday, according to Jones’ lawyer. The school’s junior varsity coach, Antonio Pixley, also will return to his job.
Jones, one of the District’s most prominent basketball coaches, was fired days after The Washington Post reported that the city had ruled that Coolidge star senior Justin Route was ineligible to play in the District this season. DCPS deemed that Route was a fifth-year student after receiving a ninth-grade transcript from his former school, Paul Charter School, that differed from the one on file at Coolidge. DCPS students can only compete in high school athletics for four years, so Route was deemed to have exhausted his eligibility. The Coolidge transcript showed Route, who transferred to the Northwest school for the 2012-13 school year, repeated the eighth grade at Paul, which would have made him eligible this year.
Jones’s lawyer, Yaida Ford, said in an interview that the evidence she presented in court Tuesday showed DCPS botched its investigation of Jones. Jones, who was the dean of students at Paul until 2013, and his attorney allege Paul’s administration falsified Route’s transcript in order to get back at Jones for testifying on behalf of another former Paul employee who filed a civil lawsuit against the school in 2014.
A DCPS spokesman declined to comment because the case is a personnel matter. Paul chief executive Jami Dunham did not return an email or telephone message seeking comment.
Ford argued in court that there were “grade calculation errors” in the transcripts provided by Paul that DCPS then relied on during its investigation into Route, Jones and his staff. Ford provided the court with a sworn statement from Route’s mother that said the signed transcript indicating her son repeated the eighth grade was accurate.
The court order issued Tuesday only reinstates Jones until Feb. 5, when a judge will rule whether to extend the temporary injunction until the conclusion of a trial.
Route transferred to Arlington Country Day in Florida earlier this month after spending the previous few months at C.H. Flowers. Prince George’s County ruled the 6-foot-5 Division I prospect ineligible to play before this season because D.C.’s investigation concluded he had already played four years of high school basketball.
The Maryland Public School Athletic Association also denied an appeal submitted by Route’s mother last month.
Jones said he has been a paid spectator at almost every Coolidge boys’ basketball game this winter, usually seated in the bleachers right behind the team’s bench.
“I feel relieved that I finally had a chance to really have someone see what I saw,” Jones said in an interview. “I had trouble sitting there. . . . But the kids know I didn’t quit on them. I didn’t leave them. That was important to me.”