HOMESTEAD — An assistant high school track and field coach whose athletes were left stranded after he was arrested while traveling to a private meet has been fired.
Walter Chambliss, 26, was arrested April 6 by Florida Highway Patrol troopers who said he was clocked speeding on Highway 91 in St. Lucie County.
Chambliss is the assistant track coach at Homestead Senior High School. He was traveling with four members of the team to a track meet in Gainesville. The trip was not affiliated with the school, according to him and school officials. A records check showed his driver’s license had multiple suspensions and there were outstanding warrants for his arrest.
Chambliss was taken into custody and booked into the St. Lucie County Jail. The rental car he was driving was towed, due to it not being rented in his name, and he was not listed as an authorized driver.
“The first question I asked this officer was, where were they going to take my boys,” Chambliss told the South Florida Times. “The officer was very nice about the whole situation, and not only told me that they were going to take them to the McDonalds at the next exit, but he also gave me an opportunity to call my fiancé to come get the boys.”
Chambliss was also a part-time temporary teacher at Campbell Drive Middle School also in Homestead. Although school officials said the incident was not school-related, he was also fired from that position as well.
John Schuster, spokes-man for Miami-Dade County Public Schools, said Chambliss worked for the school district in two part-time temporary positions. “Both of those positions have ended and his employment will not be renewed,” Schuster said.
The students traveling with Chambliss could have been stranded beside the highway 175 miles from home, according to a parent.
“My son called me and told me what was happening,” said Clayrinski Wilson, parent of two of the students. “I called the school’s athletic director [Aaron Harris], who told me it was not a school event and offered no assistance in getting them home.”
Wilson said he then contacted state troopers on the scene by phone and arranged for them to take the students to a nearby truck stop. He then had relatives near St. Lucie County pick them up. His wife then made the two and half hour drive to bring them home.
Harris is denying Wilson’s version of what took place.
In an email response to questions from South Florida Times, Harris said he, “informed Wilson that Homestead High didn't have a meet scheduled and “I would call the head coach to see what's going on.”
Schuster said school officials did offer assistance, but he did not respond further when asked to clarify what that assistance was.
Wilson said no one from the school has contacted him about what took place. He said the incident has traumatized his children and school officials had not responded to his repeated requests for counseling.
Records show Chambliss was released from the St. Lucie County Jail on Saturday morning.
When contacted, he accepted responsibility for his actions and apologized for what happened. Chambliss said he was taking the students to the Florida Relays, a 73-year-old prestigious track meet held at the University of Florida.
He said he paid most of the costs involved, for what had been intended as a positive mentoring outing for the students.
Photo: Walter Chambliss