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 follow by forcing him to eat pork towards his non secular beliefs, in accordance to a lawyer representing the boy’s household.

The Canton City School District took motion towards the coaches at McKinley Senior High School after conducting an preliminary investigation, in accordance to an announcement 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 non-obligatory follow session, the 17-year-old, a rising senior, was compelled to eat a complete pepperoni pizza, though the pinnacle 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 mentioned that the boy’s household supposed to sue the varsity district.

School district officers weren’t accessible for touch upon Wednesday, however in an announcement launched within the afternoon, Mr. Talbert mentioned, “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 observe.

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

Efforts to attain Mr. Wattley by cellphone on Wednesday evening had been unsuccessful.

According to Mr. Gilbert, the 17-year-old, who he mentioned had already attracted faculty soccer scholarship provides, is in remedy due to the episode, which was reported final week by The Canton Repository, a neighborhood 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 mentioned.

According to Mr. Gilbert, the 17-year-old was informed that his teammates could be compelled to do further drills if he didn’t eat the pizza, and that his personal standing with the crew 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 mentioned.

The coaches knew concerning the pupil’s non secular beliefs as a result of that they had all been at crew meals collectively the place the coed had made positive to order meals that didn’t embody pork, Mr. Gilbert mentioned.

“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 mentioned. “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 mentioned, 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 varsity instantly, in accordance to Mr. Gilbert.

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