BY EMILY MIBACH
Daily Post Staff Writer
A Menlo-Atherton High School student is suing her school and the Sequoia Union High School District, claiming her father was targeted with retaliation after filing complaints about the coach of the girls wrestling team.
Kiernan Dunn’s father, Kevin Dunn, objected to an assistant coach making the wrestlers wear blindfolds, resulting in one student fracturing her neck, the suit states.
The suit also claims a coach made racially inappropriate comments that caused several minority members of the wrestling team to quit.
The problems began in early 2017 when Kevin Dunn, a certified national coach with USA Wrestling, was invited by wrestling coach Philip Hoang to teach certain techniques to the student wrestlers.
But during a practice session, Dunn noticed Assistant Coach Cliff Olson was teaching some dangerous techniques to the girls, such as having them blindfold themselves before practicing a move called a “throw.” According to the lawsuit, Hoang and assistant coach Daniel Williams ignored Dunn’s complaint.
After Dunn complained, a wrestler suffered a neck fracture during a blindfolded maneuver.
Racial and sexist comments alleged
In October 2017, Kevin and Kiernan Dunn both heard Olson making inappropriate racial and sexist comments to and about team members, the lawsuit said. After the comments were made, Williams and Hoang refused to remove Olson as coach and did not report him to the school’s athletic director, the suit claims.
After the Dunn’s complaints, Olson began to threaten Kevin Dunn at practices, according to the suit. Olson also started making comments to Kiernan Dunn about her father, the suit claims.
Assistant Coach Williams allegedly asked Kevin Dunn not to complain to the school about Olson. However, Kevin Dunn made a formal complaint with one of the school’s athletic directors, and shortly thereafter Olson was fired, the suit says.
After Kevin Dunn made the complaint about Olson, Hoang allegedly decided to not let Dunn help coach the girls wrestling team, and told the girls who had been attending private practices with Kevin Dunn to stop seeking his advice.
Hoang also changed the times of practice making it so Kevin Dunn could not attend, the suit says. Because the practice times changed from after school to 5:30 a.m., Kiernan Dunn began to practice with the boys team, and was harassed by her teammates because of that.
Even though Olson had been fired, Hoang had Olson sit with the girls wrestling team at a tournament, making Kiernan Dunn uncomfortable, according to the suit.
She called her father, who asked Williams to make Olson leave. When Olson was not sent away, Kevin Dunn left work early to make sure his daughter was comfortable.
When the elder Dunn was sitting with the team, Hoang supposedly pushed him and told him to leave and threatened him if he did not.
After this incident was reported to the school’s athletic director, Dunn was barred from coaching or even entering the wrestling room, the lawsuit says.
This summer, Hoang supposedly began to send the girl wrestlers what the Dunns saw as inappropriate and abusive emails. One such email told the girls that during their off-season, they had to check their weight every week and report their weight to Hoang, the suit claims.
Dunn reported Hoang to the school’s administration, and was told by Vice Principal Stephen Emmi that Hoang would no longer send out such emails.
At this point, Kiernan Dunn had seen Hoang’s threatening behavior against her father, and did not feel safe with him as her coach, the lawsuit says.
It was around late August that the Dunns filed two complaints against Hoang and M-A Athletic Director Steven Kryger. In retaliation, the lawsuit says district hired an attorney to investigate Kevin Dunn’s behavior.
Attorney investigating Kevin Dunn
In what the suit said was a conflict of interest, the district hired the same attorney, Berkeley lawyer Amy Oppenheimer, to investigate Kevin Dunn and look into his complaint.
In October, Kiernan asked that the school help her feel safe by allowing her to practice with another school’s team and to let her father coach just her. Both requests were denied.
But because her requests were denied, Kiernan refuses to wrestle for the school and is now losing out on an athletic scholarship to Columbia University. The lawsuit says that because of the harassment and retaliation from M-A, Kiernan Dunn’s “access to the educational opportunities and benefits of being on the wrestling team” have been cut off.
School district spokesman Rolando Bonilla said yesterday that the district is reviewing the lawsuit and is preparing a response. Bonilla added district officials are confident they responded appropriately to the issues raised by the family before the lawsuit.
The suit was filed Nov. 6 on Kiernan Dunn’s behalf by Fairfax attorney Christopher Campbell. It names Hoang, Superintendent Mary Streshly, M-A Principal Simone Rick-Kennel, Vice Prinicipal Stephen Emmi and Athletic Director Steven Kryger as defendants.