Parents who complained about a coach allegedly misappropriating booster club funds at Hesperia High School say their children were later targeted for retaliation by staff members.


Although varsity volleyball coach Cynthia McGraa originally told volleyball parents a booster club should be formed to raise money to send the team to tournaments, parents say she allegedly wanted the money to cover a stipend for an assistant coach that the Hesperia Unified School District no longer had funds to afford.


"'Well, the parents don't have to know everything,'" booster club president Diane Winchester said McGraa told her when she objected.


According to Winchester, McGraa never turned over statements related to booster club fundraisers and falsified minutes from a non-existent booster club meeting where booster club members approved the stipend. A total of $1,324 in booster club funds was allegedly misappropriated, spent on the stipend and a loan to another school official.


Shortly before the end of the season, McGraa was relieved of her duties as the volleyball coach, according to Superintendent Mark McKinney, but remained at the school as a physical education teacher.


McGraa was then put on administrative leave at the end of February and Hesperia High School Principal Bob Schnebeck, whom parents allege ran interference for McGraa and other athletic staff aware of what was going on, was placed on administrative leave from Feb. 20 through March 1.


Schnebeck referred inquiries on the matter to McKinney and McGraa, who's no longer at the school, couldn't be reached for comment.


"When we are made aware of a problem, we are absolutely obligated to research ... and fix the problem," McKinney said. "I looked into (the allegations), had staff look into (them) and see if there was any validity or perceived" validity. He declined to comment further, citing personnel issues.


Winchester said school officials told her daughter she'd get "trouble" if she didn't stop talking about the McGraa situation in October.


"Everyone's talking about it," Winchester said, "and we're the bad guys. ... I didn't do anything wrong. There's no shame in the game."


Another volleyball player transferred schools due to harassment from students and staff, she said.


Varsity volleyball father David Esparza's daughters were in McGraa's class, until they were informed that she wasn't comfortable with them there and was removing them from the program.


"In January, my daughters suddenly just got thrown out of" the volleyball program, Esparza said. Earlier in the year during the volleyball season, his wife, Victoria, had been one of the parents complaining about McGraa's use of booster club funds. "The athletic coordinator said, 'We do what we want.'"


The Esparzas objected, and McGraa's superiors offered the girls their spots back in the volleyball program and class.


"To retaliate against a child for a police report is not right," David Esparza said.


"It's extremely unfortunate when students get caught up in adult issues," school board president Chris Bentley said. "And for that, I truly am regretful. I wish we would treat our parents and students a little bit better than that."