Former CCHS coach still questions dismissal

Rayfield Beaton

There’s an old saying that goes: “No good deed goes unpunished.” For Rayfield Beaton, no truer words were ever spoken.

After 12 years as the head coach of the girls track team at Culver City High School, where he led his team to 10 league championships, Beaton’s tenure came to an abrupt end on April 13, 2022 because his willingness to do a good deed for one of his athletes, he told the NEWS.

One of the team’s female runners was having personal issues and sought out Beaton for help, he said. Normally, this kind of meeting would be no problem since the meeting could take place in the teacher’s classroom or office.

However, Beaton, 72, was employed by the school in a “freelance” capacity, whose only job was to coach the track team and therefore had no office.

As a result, the student (whose name is withheld) requested a meeting off-campus and the coach obliged. This is where the trouble for Beaton began.

When word got back to CCHS authorities that Beaton had met with a student off-campus, administrators called for a meeting with him in which he was told that he had engaged in inappropriate conduct and was being suspended from coaching.

“The school administrators called me into their office, told me there was an allegation that I had inappropriate contact with a student,” Beaton said. “The school district’s lawyer asked me a bunch of questions.”

When Beaton got the news of his dismissal, he said he was bewildered and shocked. Maintaining his innocence, Beaton asked administrators for an explanation, but said he never got much of a response beyond the allegation of inappropriate conduct with a student.

Although Beaton, a native of Guyana and a former USC star middle-distance runner, has been coaching and Culver City High for the past 12 years, he was never made aware of any rule that the school or district had against meeting students off campus.

For the record, Beaton was never charged with a crime. His reputation, however, had been soiled.

Scott Ziedman, Beaton’s attorney, said that the allegation against his client was ultimately withdrawn, but despite that, he said Beaton decided to cease all of his coaching activities in Culver City.

“I think it’s a miscarriage of justice,” Ziedman said. “ I think that the school had no sufficient evidence seeing that the minor complainant apparently withdrew her complaint. I don’t know for a fact as I have not seen anything in writing from the police, they’ve produced nothing from the school district so apparently the minor had withdrawn the complaint and nonetheless the coach was removed.”

Calls to CCHS school officials and CCUSD representatives were not returned, according to Stephen Finley, the NEWS sports editor who contributed to this story.

Although Ziedman hasn’t been on the board of education since 2011, he is also not aware of any rule or law that prohibits off campus meetings between students and teachers. Ironically, this rule governing off-campus meetings between students and teachers ties into Zeidman’s questioning of “closed practices.”

Such workouts are training sessions in which parents are prohibited from watching their children participate during a typical practice for a sporting event. It’s this prohibition against parents that concerns Ziedman the most.

“I personally went to the school district 18 months ago and said, ‘you’ve got a problem here’ not with coach Beaton but with the policies regard- ing closed practices,” Ziedman said. “The problem with closed practices is that only the adult coaches are with the minor children and they need to discourage that and open up practices because either a coach is going to get accused or a student could get potentially harassed and the school district did absolutely nothing. It’s a problem for the district, it’s a problem for students and it’s a problem for the coaches and I’m sad that I predicted that this would happen.”

Since his suspension and withdrawal from coaching, Beaton has spent his time working as a personal coach and trainer for several professional athletes including former NBA player O.J. Mayo.

“It’s an unfortunate situation where a 72-year-old man did what he thought was right to help a student out and be the adult… and it’s sad in our society today when anyone makes a complaint, even if the complaint is withdrawn, that the district [would behave this way.]”