Thursday, June 08, 2006

Immokalee Coach Unapologetic

IMMOKALEE, Fl. -- Immokalee High School principal and soccer coach,
said he doesn't need to apologize to anyone for having a 30-year old
Haitian attending his school and being the soccer team's best player
and team captain. Manny Touron said he shouldn't apologize because he
didn't know Blandel Jean was that old. He apparently didn't know
that student athlete Josh Jean-Mary was 23-years old, and student
athlete Sinel Ulysse was 20 years old either. Both were fingered
later in the investigation by the Florida High School Athletic
Association. After discovery, Mr. Jean left the school a week before
he was scheduled to "graduate." He left Haiti in 2003 aned worked as
a convenience store clerk in Immokalee. He said in order to enroll at
Immokalee High his mother sent him a birth certificate from Haiti and
changed the birthdate. He is five foot, five inches tall and weighs
125 pounds so it was not hard to fake his age he said.

The Florida High School Athletic Association Wednesday has barred
Immokalee from football playoffs next season and the soccer team is
barred for two seasons, and the school has to hand back two district
soccer title trophy and one district football title trophy. The
school has 10 days to appeal, but most likely the embarrassment of
the situation will bar that effort. The school faces and
multi-thousand dollar fine and investigation costs as well.

The FHSAA said principal Touron was made aware of the overage
students last October but didn't report the problem until May 2006.
The group also says Touron didn't initiate an investigation into
other overage students even after finding out about the first one discovered.

56-year old Manny Touron, in his second year as principal of
Immokalee High after a half dozen years at Immokalee Middle School,
and five years at Lake Trafford Elementary. Of Cuban heritage, he was
raised in New York City' Brooklyn and played soccer in college. He
has been married for 22 years and has a 30-year old son from a prior marriage.

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