Kemper changes mind, will remain Ashland High AD

Less than two weeks after his going away party, Karl Kemper is suddenly in line for a welcome back celebration.

Kemper rescinded his resignation as Ashland High School's athletic director Monday, deciding to stay at AHS rather than take a job as AD and assistant principal at Banks High School in Portland.

The change of heart came 10 days after AHS students, staff and Ashland community members gathered at the school's small gym to say goodbye to the man who took over for Jim Nagel in 2004. Kemper verbally accepted the job at Banks High, his alma mater, in order to move closer to his extended family, but ended up staying to remain close to his immediate family, which includes his three kids ages 5 through 9.

"As it played out, we really thought that the kids' mother [Laurie Kemper] could relocate and keep her current job, and as it played out that wasn't the case," Karl Kemper said. "So as the plan was starting to come together it was looking more and more like I might be moving up there by myself. In the end, I couldn't be that dad."

Kemper, 46, started rethinking the move north last week in Banks, where he graduated from high school in 1984 and coached girls basketball and baseball through most of the 1990's.

"We talked about it and talked about it and they all said, 'We really would love to have you home, but not under these circumstances — if the kids aren't coming and you don't know when they're coming,'" Kemper said.

He then called Ashland School Distirct Superintendent Juli Di Chiro and asked her what she would think if he changed his mind and stayed at Ashland High. According to Kemper, Di Chiro said, "I would celebrate."

Once Kemper found out that he still had time to change his mind, he went over the pros and cons one more time.

"We sat down Monday as a family and said 'What's the best thing for our kids,' and it's to have both parents be in their life on a regular basis, even in the short term," Kemper said. "Not knowing when that might happen was too big of a chance to take."

The about face has led to plenty of awkward question-answer sessions with friends, says Kemper, but he's confident that he's made the right decision for his family.

"The thing is," he said, "I'll be explaining myself to people for a while, but if I made this move I could have been explaining myself to my kids for the rest of my life and I couldn't come to terms with that."

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