Principal mum on Thoreau coaches’ firing


Face shot of Leslie

Navajo Times | File
Popular Thoreau cross-country coach Brandon Leslie was relieved of his duties on Sept.6 after allegations of misconduct surfaced that Thoreau principal Lawrence Sena felt were serious enough to replace Leslie and his wife Arlinda Leslie as coaches.

The reasoning behind the forced resignation of popular Thoreau High School cross-country coach Brandon Leslie and his wife Arlinda Leslie was not up for discussion on Tuesday night.

Members of the cross-country team and their parents met with Thoreau principal Lawrence Sena to get an update on the status of the program.

“This is a meeting we never want to have but I am here for you,” Sena said. “I hope that you have faith in me as an administrator in what I believe is the best interest for our student-athletes. I want this school to be the very best for everybody and sometimes decisions have to be made and those decisions in my estimation is the best for you and your children.”

Sena also pointed out that anything that has happened regarding the Leslies are personnel issues that he can’t discuss.

“I know change is never easy and change is something we never want to do, especially through a season,” he said, “but where we’re at today is we’re in the process of opening the (head coach) position.”

For the time being, Sena named Anthony Brown as the coach until that position is filled, which should take up to two weeks.

“I am very confident in his ability to serve as the coach in the interim,” Sena said.

On Sept. 6, the Leslies were relieved of their coaching duties after allegations of misconduct surfaced that Sena felt were serious enough to replace them as coaches.

Some parents felt that the forced resignation was too vague and they wondered whether school administrators were overreacting.

“Whatever took place is a private matter,” parent Amber James said.

With the recent success of the boys’ team winning back-to-back titles, another parent voiced his concern about the need to change coaches.

“We have a good coach right now, but when you say we need to go in another direction, you can’t say that we’re going to be the best,” said Bernard Sam, one of the parents attending the meeting.

Sam, who was unaware of the circumstances that led to the Leslie’s forced resignation, felt that there was no merit to changing coaches since the program was making strides toward a district and state title.

“You appeased yourself in this decision,” he said. “And when you say you support us, we didn’t have a say-so in this.”

And while most of the parents wanted Sena to reinstate the Leslies, Jennifer Plummer was a bit agitated on where the conversation was going.

“As parents we need to stop worrying about what happened in the past,” she said. “We need to ensure that our kids are safe. We need to make sure our kids are not seeing us arguing like this.”

With most of the runners are hurt about the decision she said it’s important that the parents support their kids in these trying times.

“When you talk negative like that they can’t move forward,” Plummer said. “We can appreciate what the Leslies has done with our kids but we’re moving forward. As a parent I want the best interest for our kids. Right now my main concern is I want my child to be safe and that is more important to me as a mother.”

Navajo Nation Council Delegate Edmund Yazzie (Church Rock, Iyanbito, Mariano Lake, Smith Lake, Pinedale and Thoreau) said the conversation they were having should be conducted in a positive matter.

“My wife was going to come here with me but she didn’t want my daughter to see the dysfunctional and verbal ways we handle business,” he said.
Yazzie said as he was walking up to the school he got some flashbacks about an incident that happened a few years back when he was working with the sheriff’s department.

“One of our students did the unthinkable thing and stabbed a teacher,” he said. “That made national news.”

 To read the full article, pick up your copy of the Navajo Times at your nearest newsstand Thursday mornings!

  Find newsstand locations at this link.

Or, subscribe via mail or online here.

Categories: Sports

About Author

Quentin Jodie

Quentin Jodie is the Sports Editor for the Navajo Times. He started working for the Navajo Times in February 2010 and was promoted to the Sports Editor position at the end of summer in 2012. Previously, he wrote for the Gallup Independent. Reach him at