Orono School Board Confirms Swim Coach Suspended, Under Investigation for Alleged Bullying

February 28, 2018 09:18 AM

The longtime swim coach for the Orono School District is on paid leave.

Bob Tunheim, the president of the school board, said at a Monday night meeting that although a police report hasn't been filed, Coach Pete Buecher is under investigation by an outside law firm hired by the district.


Tunheim wouldn't get into specifics, but urged the crowd of parents to be patient while the firm gets to the bottom of the complaints.

Some current swimmers on the girls team claim Buecher bullied them or made inappropriate comments, according to parents at the meeting. Buecher has been with the Orono district for 18 years. 

The claims are similar to ones that ended his coaching career in Roseville, where, in 2000, female swimmers said he made inappropriate statements or displayed inappropriate behavior. The Roseville School Board fired Buecher. 

When he applied for a job with the Orono district as head of the swim and dive teams, the board members acknowledged that at the time they were aware of the complaints and his termination. They said the board talked in depth with Buecher about them, vetted him extensively and felt comfortable enough to hire him. Buecher has been with the district ever since. 

Dozens of parents at the meeting demanded to know more about the claims, and urged the board to reinstate Buecher before Friday when the boys swim team goes to the state tournament. They also informed the board they've started an online fund to help pay for Buecher's defense against the claims. 

Buecher declined to comment about the allegations.


Beth McDonough

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