By ELGIN JONES EJones@SFLTimes.com
HOMESTEAD — A popular high school physical education teacher and football coach whose program is known for graduating players and sending them to college and the National Football League has been fired.
Bobby McCray was dismissed as head coach of the Homestead Senior High School football program, but remains a physical education teacher at the school. Sources say he learned of his termination from students and players.
Citing Miami-Dade County Public Schools policy, McCray declined comment when contacted and referred questions to his union, the United Teachers Dade.
His firing has raised concerns over whether blacks are being targeted at the school.
“I think it’s horrible,” said Patricia “Pat” Mellerson, a politically active businesswoman who serves on Homestead High’s Educational Excellence School Advisory Council (EESAC). “I know him to be a man of integrity who is always pushing his players to go on to college.”
“We already have a lack of black male role models at this school and it concerns me that McCray’s firing is another instance in a string of black teachers being removed over the past few years,” Mellerson said. “This must be addressed and this is the perfect example of it happening.”
Mellerson said she has raised her concerns with school principal Cory Rodriguez, and at EESAC meetings about a lack of black teachers, and that her recommendations for diversity training and a review of the trend have been met with resistance.
Rodriguez did not return calls or respond to several emails seeking comment. The school’s athletic director acknowledged that McCray has been replaced as head coach of the Broncos but did not offer further comment.
“Yes. The (head coaching) position has been filled,” Homestead High Athletic Director Aaron E. Harris said in an email to the South Florida Times. “Our new head coach is Patrick Burrows.”
Harris did not provide details of the selection process or the effective date of McCray’s firing.
A South Florida Times investigation found that McCray was the subject of a criminal investigation into allegations that he violated procurement policies when he purchased new football uniforms last summer. The school received a bill from the company that supplied the uniforms.
McCray and school boosters were also accused of selling hot dogs, sodas, candy and other snacks at the school’s concession stand during home football games without authorization.
Rodriguez reported the uniforms purchase to the Miami-Dade County Public Schools police department. Detective Claudia Bertrand “exceptionally cleared” the case and closed the criminal investigation. However, an administrative investigation found “probable cause” to conclude that McCray violated the school board’s ethics policies.
The schools police have not yet released the investigative case summary requested by the South Florida Times. However, according to sources close to the situation, McCray denies the allegations and has said he received permission to order the uniforms with two bids, instead of three, because they would be paid for by boosters and money raised from the community.
McCray is an icon who is active in the community. He has mentored kids and raised funds for numerous charities and causes, as well as for the football team.
During his tenure as coach, Homestead High became fertile ground for college recruiters.
Since he became head coach in 2005, at least 10 of his players have gone to the NFL. Nearly 10 times that many have gone on to college and are now leading productive lives in various fields.
They include his son Bobby McCray Jr., a free agent defensive end who played on the New Orleans Saints 2009 Super Bowl championship team, and former Miami Hurricane Michael Barrow, who spent a dozen years as a linebacker in the NFL.
*Pictured above is fired Homestead Senior High School football coach Bobby McCray.