High School Football Coaches Suspended After Teen Is Forced to Eat Pork, Lawyer Says

A highschool soccer coach in Canton, Ohio, and 7 assistant coaches have been suspended after punishing a 17-year-old for lacking a voluntary observe by forcing him to eat pork in opposition to his spiritual beliefs, in accordance to a lawyer representing the boy’s household.

The Canton City School District took motion in opposition to the coaches at McKinley Senior High School after conducting an preliminary investigation, according to a statement on Wednesday by Jeff Talbert, the district’s superintendent. It additionally filed a report concerning the matter with the Canton Police Department, which is investigating it as a possible hazing episode.

On the final day of lessons, May 24, 4 days after he had missed an elective observe session, the 17-year-old, a rising senior, was compelled to eat a complete pepperoni pizza, despite the fact that the top coach, Marcus Wattley, and the opposite coaches knew that he didn’t eat pork as a result of he was a Hebrew Israelite, in accordance to his household’s lawyer, Ed Gilbert. He stated that the boy’s household supposed to sue the college district.

School district officers weren’t obtainable for touch upon Wednesday, however in an announcement launched within the afternoon, Mr. Talbert stated, “The investigation found that the identified coaches engaged in actions that constituted inappropriate, demeaning, and divisive behavior in a misguided attempt to instill discipline in the student-athletes.”

The assertion, which didn’t present the specifics of the episode or identify the coaches, additionally didn’t specify the size of the suspensions. Mr. Talbert added that additional disciplinary measures would comply with.

“Let us be clear, the Canton City School District holds our coaching and general staff to the highest professional and ethical standards,” Mr. Talbert stated. “Anything short of these standards is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

Efforts to attain Mr. Wattley by telephone on Wednesday night time had been unsuccessful.

According to Mr. Gilbert, the 17-year-old, who he stated had already attracted school soccer scholarship gives, is in remedy due to the episode, which was reported final week by The Canton Repository, a local newspaper.

“He is of the belief — and that’s what hurts him so bad is — that the coach knew of his beliefs and wanted to punish him, and it’s our view that it was done intentionally and that it was a punitive act,” Mr. Gilbert stated.

According to Mr. Gilbert, the 17-year-old was instructed that his teammates could be compelled to do additional drills if he didn’t eat the pizza, and that his personal standing with the staff could possibly be compromised.

“The coach told him, in order to have respect and stay on this team, you have to eat the pizza,” he stated.

The coaches knew concerning the scholar’s spiritual beliefs as a result of they’d all been at staff meals collectively the place the scholar had made positive to order meals that didn’t embrace pork, Mr. Gilbert stated.

“I don’t know what was in this coach’s mind — I mean, in today’s society, you respect people’s religious beliefs,” Mr. Gilbert stated. “You do not make fun of them or make an issue of that, and I just don’t know where this coach’s head is.”

Although the coaches allowed the participant to take away the pepperoni after he reiterated his beliefs, Mr. Gilbert stated, pork residue remained on the pizza. He ate it anyway. Once he had completed, coaches instructed him to do weighted workouts on the soccer area.

When a coach who had not been current heard about what occurred, he reported it to the college instantly, in accordance to Mr. Gilbert.

A particular assembly of the college district’s board of schooling is about for Thursday to talk about the matter additional.

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