Lincoln High School has a new boys varsity soccer coach—and he brings his own baggage to an athletic department that has seen more than its share of troubles.
Pablo Dipascuale, 29, is a Spanish-language teacher at Lincoln and served as an assistant to the previous coach, his brother, Facundo, who left the team under a cloud earlier this year.
Records show in July 2013 Pablo Dipascuale was arrested for driving under the influence in Seattle, where he coached a Portland team at a youth soccer tournament.
Some Lincoln parents are unhappy about his promotion.
"To be a coach is about setting a good example," says one soccer parent, who spoke to WW on condition of anonymity. "I'm very concerned. To the boys, he may lose some credibility."
Although the DUII charge was plea-bargained to reckless driving, Dipascuale was also cited in 2014 for driving with a suspended license.
"What are the chances of him making another mistake?" the parent asks.
Dipascuale's troubles echo previous problems in the affluent westside school's athletic department.
Highlights include the 2009 firing of football coach Chad Carlson for a drunken altercation with Portland police. In 2009, boys basketball coach David Adelman was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. He wasn't fired, though he had one prior DUII.
Lincoln Principal Peyton Chapman says the school monitors coaches closely.
"Over the past decade, we have worked with hundreds of dedicated and talented coaches, always emphasizing the importance of being a strong role model," says Chapman, who was aware of Dipascuale's reckless driving conviction, "and we have removed coaches on a few occasions for behaviors that did not meet our high expectations."
Chapman adds that she supports coaches who have learned from their mistakes.
As a school community that aspires to compete with westside athletic powerhouses such as Lake Oswego and Jesuit high schools, Lincoln can be a pressure cooker for coaches and players.
Chapman acknowledges those high expectations but denies Lincoln drops its standards to elevate on-field success.
Last year, a parent filed a complaint with Lincoln alleging Facundo Dipascuale had bullied her son, a black underclassman on the varsity soccer team.
The complaint alleged Dipascuale mocked the player for being short and for saying that he, like other black athletes, might one day kneel instead of stand during the national anthem.
The parent of a second player corroborates the story, telling WW that his son had told him the black player was "getting targeted" by Dipascuale.
Lincoln forwarded the complaint to Portland Public Schools for district athletic director Marshall Haskins to investigate.
Haskins, who is black, questions the premise of the complaint—that Dipascuale mocked the player for being short.
"Soccer players come in all different sizes, shapes and colors," Haskins says. "I don't know how that would impact him playing soccer."
Haskins did not interview a single Lincoln player about the allegations. (He relied on reports he received from Lincoln officials, who had interviewed just two students.)
"I don't know what happened because I wasn't there," Haskins says of the alleged incidents.
His cursory response to the allegations against Dipascuale raises questions about whether PPS administration has an effective system for responding to complaints against coaches.
PPS spokesman David Northfield denies the district punted on the Lincoln complaint.
"After a thorough investigation, Coach Dipascuale was cleared of allegations he bullied a student," says Northfield.
"He was authorized to return to coaching with guidance on how to better communicate with players." (Dipascuale resigned in May to coach outside the U.S., district officials say.)
Northfield rejects the notion that the Lincoln coaches might be prejudiced.
"The Dipascuale brothers are Argentinean people of color," Northfield says.
(Pablo Dipascuale declined to comment, directing questions about his hiring to his bosses. Facundo Dipascuale could not be reached for comment).
The school district's approach to investigations "is a complete sham," says Kim Sordyl, who is a frequent critic of the administration. "PPS buries claims of discrimination and harassment, and officials are rewarded for doing so."
Lincoln is a predominantly white high school, and black students don't always find it welcoming. Last year, according to enrollment data, just 32 of Lincoln's 1,703 students—less than 2 percent—identified as African-American.
Last year, WW reported on a complaint alleging boys basketball coach Pat Adelman, David's younger brother, had made racially insensitive remarks to his players ("Offensive Game Plan," WW, Feb. 10, 2016). He was suspended for the rest of the season after WW wrote about the complaint, although he remains the head coach.
The black soccer player's mother wrote in her emails to Lincoln officials that her son also endured racist remarks from Pablo Dipascuale, who was her son's Spanish teacher last year.
"The hazing and bullying on the field followed in the classroom," the mother wrote, "with Pablo making statements about [player's name withheld by PPS for privacy] in class that were humiliating."
The mother alleged Dipascuale compared her son to an animal. In a discussion about the way Americans use fences to pen in animals, Dipascuale allegedly said, "Yes, people here use fences to keep their pets in like their cats, dogs and [student name redacted]."
Chapman says there was no merit to the accusation that Dipascuale disparaged the player in Spanish class. She says all students at Lincoln are treated equally and fairly.
"We continuously review our equity protocols on racial sensitivity," Chapman says in a statement.
"I was confident that there was no racial harassment going on. Our students' social, emotional and physical safety are always our top priority. I am looking forward to watching this student play varsity soccer for Lincoln this fall. I think he and his teammates will have a great season."