EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Eden Prairie's varsity boys basketball coach is returning to his team following an investigation into complaints made against him in 2022.
According to Eden Prairie Schools, the district has completed its investigation and David Flom "will transition back as head coach" of the boy's team effective Monday, Jan. 23.
The EPHS Hoops Twitter account also posted that Flom has been reinstated.
Eden Prairie Public Schools first confirmed in December of 2022 that a complaint was made against Flom and that it was under investigation, but did not provide any details regarding the nature of that complaint.
A few days after the alleged incident, the Star Tribune reported Flom was accused of reading a racial slur aloud in a classroom, which the district said was part of a lesson about responsible use of social media.
In a statement sent to KARE 11 Wednesday, Coach Flom apologized for the harm caused by his actions.
"I could not possibly be more sorry for all the harm that I have caused," Flom said. "We are trying to focus our attention and energies on helping the players, school and community to move forward with the lessons learned. I am amazed by the support we have received and continue to receive."
But some scholars steeped in the study of race and racism said despite Flom's alleged use of the slur as part of a teachable moment, the term in question should not be used in any context.
"We take David Flom at his word that what he was attempting to do is to educate these young people on the appropriate use of social media. That’s a positive and you know, in this moment, it is important to recognize the importance of what young people do online," said Dr. Yohuru Williams, chair, professor and founding director of the Racial Justice Initiative at St. Thomas University.
"At the same time, there should have been a degree of sensitivity there around the use of that word in particular," Williams added. "What we do know is even if his heart was in the right place, reading that word can cause harm, so the district took the appropriate action. The question now is: Was the suspension long enough; has he learned his lesson; will this hopefully change the way he would go about doing this in the future?"
In a statement shared Monday, the district said "while state law governing information about employees does not allow us to release any further information at this time, we appreciate everyone’s understanding of the importance of conducting a thorough investigation. We listened to multiple perspectives, and hope some learning comes out of this difficult time."
"We are so proud of our players and interim coaches for how they have responded to changes this season and for their commitment to each other, and we will continue helping our players reach their full potential as individuals and as a team," the school added.
Williams said one of the most important takeaways from the situation is exactly what Flom was allegedly trying to teach: being held accountable for your actions.
"I think in a way, though, here is the positive we can take away from this," he said. "He did this; he was suspended for it. It reinforces the exact lesson he was trying to teach young people. You have to be accountable for the words you use and the behavior you engage in, even if it was well intended, if it causes harm, the metric is you should do no harm and you have to be held accountable for that."
The other takeaway, he said, is the "idea of redemption."
"I am glad that he is back in that environment because it communicates two things: One, you have to be accountable for your actions, but No. 2, we can’t throw people away."
He added, "I like the idea of redemption in this case because he comes back but he has a testimony now about what exactly that looks like. If he is taking this the right way he can be very authentic in saying, 'Hey, look, I made a mistake. I should not have done this and this is what I mean about being accountable. I did harm, I apologize for that harm and it's restorative justice, and now I share with community about why that was wrong.' That can be even more valuable as a teachable moment."
Flom is expected to be on the bench when Eden Prairie hosts the No. 6 ranked Wayzata Tuesday night at 7 p.m.
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