A high school coach and educator who has worked for several local schools over two decades is out as head coach of Alter High School’s boys varsity soccer team.
Ron Fernandez resigned after he was “suspended … from all contact with the team” amid an investigation about his military service, Alter Principal Lourdes Lambert said.
A letter from Lambert to Alter parents, obtained by the Dayton Daily News through the group Guardians of the Green Beret, states that “due to the integrity and character implications in this investigation, Coach Fernandez will no longer be affiliated with our school in any way.”
Fernandez did not respond to repeated Dayton Daily News phone and email messages this week.
On July 7, the Guardians of the Green Beret group made an internet post questioning how Fernandez — a Wayne High School and Wittenberg University graduate — had represented his military background.
Alter’s Lambert said she found out about the Green Beret group’s investigation into Fernandez the evening of July 13. Alter investigated the next day, and on July 14, “I called Mr. Fernandez and suspended him from all contact with the team,” she said.
“Ultimately, at that point, I think we knew what the decision was going to be,” Lambert added. “But I wanted to make sure there was no contact with the students.”
On July 15, Fernandez “stepped down,” but did not submit a resignation letter, she said.
Retired Lt. Col. Jason Bender, who headed the University of Cincinnati’s Army ROTC program, told the Dayton Daily News that Fernandez represented himself multiple times as a member of the elite Green Berets special forces group.
The Dayton Daily News has not been able to independently confirm the details of Fernandez’s military service.
Lambert said Fernandez “had told us (at Alter) that he was a veteran, that he had been in the military.” She added, “I don’t know the exact arm, the exact service. But I know that it was well known that he was a veteran.”
This news outlet obtained Fernandez’s resume from Mad River Local Schools — where he has worked at Stebbins High School — through a public records request. The only military service listed on Fernandez’s resume was “active (in an) Ohio military reserve” brigade.
Mad River schools Superintendent Chad Wyen declined an interview request from this news organization regarding Fernandez.
“We have nothing additional to share except Mr. Fernandez’s employment with the district does not coincide with the personal accusations that are being made against him and do not have anything to do with the Mad River School District,” Wyen said in an email.
Guardians of the Green Beret lists dozens of cases on its website of individuals the group said falsely claim to be members of that special forces unit. It seeks make this information available for “years down the road,” said Steve Antson, an investigator with the group.
Fernandez was hired as a paraprofessional at Stebbins High in July 2019 and has worked at and/or coached baseball or soccer at several public and private schools throughout the Dayton area the past 19 years, records show.
Aside from Alter and Mad River, those schools or districts include Carlisle, Centerville, Huber Heights, Kettering, Fenwick High School and Summit Academy in Middletown, Miamisburg, Oakwood, West Carrollton and the Warren County Learning Center, according to his resume.
While at Alter, Fernandez was named boys Division II assistant coach of the year in 2016 by the Ohio Scholastic Soccer Association, according to the statewide group’s website.
He joined the Centerville High School baseball coaching staff in 2019 and served as the freshmen team’s head coach until this spring, Centerville Athletic Director Rob Dement said.
Dement told the Dayton Daily News not having Fernandez return as a coach was purely “a baseball decision” made in late May or early June.
“The timing of the decision to not have Ron back as a 9th (grade) baseball coach is purely coincidental to all of the other information being discussed pertaining to his military experience,” Dement said in a later email.
Fernandez’s state educational credentials include the following permits: three-year pupil activity, four-year educational aide and a five-year substitute PK-12 license, according to the Ohio Department of Education documents.
At Stebbins, two annual evaluations by Principal Tina Simpson show Fernandez received satisfactory — or higher — scores in all 10 categories. In four of the sections, he got the top score.
Among the comments Simpson made about Fernandez were, “willing to help out and support the teacher with work and policies,” being “very flexible and willing to do what is asked” and having a “great rapport with students.”
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