Parents and players are pushing school administrators in Fairfax County, Virginia, to reinstate one of the most successful basketball coaches in the region.
Dianne Lewis has coached girls basketball at Thomas A. Edison High School in Alexandria for 22 years and taken her teams to the state tournament multiple times.
But Lewis was recently notified her contract to continue coaching would not be renewed.
Current and former basketball players and their parents held a very visible demonstration every day this week outside Edison High School.
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Their signs made their support for the coach clear.
"She has not only been such a great coach, but she’s been such a good teacher and mentor for me," Edison basketball player Shannon Heiner said.
Last season, and others before it, the Edison Eagles won the district championship and moved onto state, adding more victories to the Lewis' impressive record of 445 wins and 99 losses.
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Her supporters say she is about much more than winning games.
"It's more than basketball with Coach Lewis. You gotta understand that. It’s much more than basketball with Coach Lewis, it's about the child," parent Alvin Daniels said.
Daniels and others say they were stunned to learn Lewis would no longer be allowed to coach at Edison.
"Parents are very shocked and very hurt," he said.
The exact reason for the school district’s decision is unclear.
“Edison HS is taking a new direction with our basketball coaching this coming school year. This decision was not made lightly, and was done so in the best interest of the school community,” a statement from a spokesperson for Fairfax County Public Schools said in part.
But some parents and players suspect the coach’s removal is tied to something that developed after last season: the discovery that two players did not live in the school's attendance district.
"It is absolutely unacceptable that she was fired for something that is on the fault of the high school," former player for the basketball team Amaya Gray said.
News4 contacted Lewis, but she replied that on advice of her attorney, she was unable to comment.
In addition to the demonstrations, her supporters have launched a Change.org petition that rapidly gained more than 2,000 signatures.
"We’re not going to let them take her from us," player Toni McCrae said.
While Lewis’ school coaching job has been taken away, she is still coaching AAU teams. She’s also still working at Edison High in the student activities office.