Rootstown Coach Resigns

PTC Junky

Member
Most recent article. The link can be found here https://www.record-courier.com/story/news/2020/09/15/rootstown-football-investigation-probes-spiker-resignation-racism/5791586002/

The recent resignation of Rootstown's head football coach after the superintendent overturned his suspension of a player for reportedly using racial slurs is prompting community outcry and an independent investigation by the school board.

Rootstown Board of Education member Steven Vasbinder acknowledged Monday night that he called for head football coach Troy Spiker's resignation last week after the coach suspended a player for reported repeated use of racial slurs.

Superintendent Andrew Hawkins said he consulted Vasbinder, high school Principal Jim Conley, Athletic Director Keith Waesch and Board Vice President Tom Siciliano and ultimately reversed Spiker's decision and reinstated the athlete, leading to the coach's resignation.

A community member addresses the Rootstown superintendent and board of education at Monday night’s meeting at Rootstown High School.


Board President Amanda Waesch, who is the wife of the athletic director, was not satisfied by their explanations.

"My recommendation is that we investigate the entire series of events from the start of football to Coach Spiker's resignation. I want the facts leading to it, what occurred, how many times, who was involved from student athletes to employees of the district, coaches and staff, and how we got to this point. We have to learn something from this. We can't let this happen again," Waesch said.

While the investigation will look at the football program, several audience members said this incident is just one example of ongoing racism and incompetence within the district, and several called for Hawkins' resignation and threatened to vote board members out of their seats.

The Rootstown High School cafeteria was standing room only for Monday night’s board of education meeting.


What happened?
By several accounts by district officials and community members on Monday night and from previous reports, the events leading to Spiker's resignation started with the reported use of the N-word during a high school football practice in early August.

Evand "Sparky" Birkett, whose sons are on the football team and who were directly affected by the events, said that there were four incidents of racism in two days, including a white player saying to one of his sons, who is Black, "Do you know the definition of the N-word?" and a physical altercation.


According to Vasbinder, the use of the racial slur could not be confirmed and so both the white player and Birkett's son were asked to take three days off of practice to "cool off." There was no further punishment.

Charles Harris, a Rootstown parent who previously coached with Spiker and who Spiker called after the altercation, said two other boys came forward to confirm the player had used the racial slur but that their statements were disregarded because it was not heard by an adult.


Harris said he told Spiker that Rootstown does not have the proper systems in place to handle racial situations, and so he suggested that Spiker work within the existing Rootstown policies to punish the white player. He said they agreed that another incident would be grounds for removal from the team.

Later, another incident occurred with the same player, and Spiker followed through with his plan to remove the student from the team.


Waesch previously told the Record-Courier he was not part of the process.

Birkett said he was in support of the student staying on the team because "he needs to be under the tutelage of someone like Troy Spiker to give him a correction on his behavioral choices."

Once Spiker's consequences were reversed, "That, just for common terms, took the legs out from underneath myself (in) trying to set the standard (of) the program," Spiker told the Record-Courier.

Spiker resigned Wednesday, only two games into his first season leading his alma mater, and the board unanimously approved his resignation Monday, effective Sept. 9. Spiker was not in attendance.

Most, though not all, audience members spoke in support of Spiker.




What happens next?
The board also approved the resignation of assistant football coach Tom Wilson, effective Sept. 10, and replaced Spiker with Robert Treharn, the middle school coach.

The resignations and hires were followed up by the board's unanimous approval of an independent, third-party investigation and the appointment of middle school Principal Rob Campbell as district liaison to that investigation.

Amanda Waesch noted that she is married to the AD, the assistant superintendent is married to the new head football coach and "there appears to be some level of board involvement. I want to avoid all appearances of impropriety. I wholly respect Mr. Campbell, I trust his abilities and he's well-respected in the community."

Campbell could not be reached for comment. It's not clear what the timeline of the investigation will be or whether the results will be released to the public.


Additionally, the board approved the establishment of a community committee to address how to make Rootstown "a better community."

"The term may be 'diversity awareness' or 'cultural competency' but it needs to be creative and we have to own it. We're Rovers. We're Rootstown and I don't want to take a cookie-cutter plan from somewhere else. We have to make it ours and make it fit our community, otherwise it won't be successful," Amanda Waesch said.

The board also requested the involvement of Frank Hairston, Portage NAACP spokesperson and Portage County Mental Health and Recovery Board member who addressed the board that night.

Hairston said he and the NAACP would be willing to work with the district.

"We go in and we’re going to establish and ask questions. NAACP has a process, and we look if there has been a discriminatory act. We ask people what they want. Some people just want NAACP in the room. And sometimes they say I just want to make sure this doesn’t happen to someone else," said Portage NAACP President Geraldine Hayes-Nelson, who was contacted by several Rootstown community members.

Reporter Krista S. Kano can be reached at 330-541-9416, kkano@recordpub.com or on Twitter @KristaKanoRCedu.
 

1 time

Active member
I do not know all of the rules, but I do not think you can have an impromtu meeting with the Super and a few board members to dicuss personnel and policies. One of the lawyers on here would have this answer. The other board members should be outraged that they were not in "the group" that was consulted.

Bellbrook, in the Dayton area, is paying a huge fine and court cost for violating the public meeting rules. I believe their problem was that the board and Super were having a group text that the public could not view.

I assume some people will resign over this. If not, they should be fired or voted out.
. I believe it called the Sunshine Law. More then 2 board members can’t be at an impromptu meeting or conference call unless there’s a public announcement that it’s open to the public.
 

serpico

Well-known member
I do not know all of the rules, but I do not think you can have an impromtu meeting with the Super and a few board members to dicuss personnel and policies. One of the lawyers on here would have this answer. The other board members should be outraged that they were not in "the group" that was consulted.
What is wrong with such impromptu meetings as long as votes aren’t taken and sunshine laws are adhered to (as in, only two board members are involved)?

If I’m a superintendent mulling a tough decision, why wouldn’t I want to call a board member or two to get their thoughts?
 
What is wrong with such impromptu meetings as long as votes aren’t taken and sunshine laws are adhered to (as in, only two board members are involved)?

If I’m a superintendent mulling a tough decision, why wouldn’t I want to call a board member or two to get their thoughts?
What's wrong with such impromptu meetings? Well, Fox 8 news and the other local media just might show up at your front door.
 

ideliver

Active member
What is wrong with such impromptu meetings as long as votes aren’t taken and sunshine laws are adhered to (as in, only two board members are involved)?

If I’m a superintendent mulling a tough decision, why wouldn’t I want to call a board member or two to get their thoughts?
You call a full board meeting if you want their input....or you act your pay grade and position and make the decision yourself. If you call a "secret meeting" as defined by the law....you have broken the law. You make not agree with the law...but it is the law for exactly these reasons....so that decisions are made in the light of day and not in secret
 

serpico

Well-known member
You call a full board meeting if you want their input....or you act your pay grade and position and make the decision yourself. If you call a "secret meeting" as defined by the law....you have broken the law. You make not agree with the law...but it is the law for exactly these reasons....so that decisions are made in the light of day and not in secret
Per Clark’s post above, that only applies if a majority of the board is in said meeting. It’s nonsensical to believe a super can’t consult with individual board members on school matters.
 

ideliver

Active member
Per Clark’s post above, that only applies if a majority of the board is in said meeting. It’s nonsensical to believe a super can’t consult with individual board members on school matters.
OPMA is the law that applies. You can meet in private to discuss disciplinary actions (quasi judicial) of a protected individual (a student covered by FERPA). You can call an emergency meeting that do not require all of the notices of OPMA. Here's the problem, from the article, they conducted business and made decisions based on the information presented at the "gathering" without the benefit of a quorum and conducted business. Therefore, based on their actions, they held an improper meeting. The other school board members (and the citizen's they represent) did not have a vote or a say in the matter.

They should have a called an emergency meeting of the full board, could have recessed into private executive session and held the discussions in private to a quorum of the board. The Superintendent circumvented this process for a reason....because he wanted to exclude one or 2 people from the process. This is just bad leadership and government.
 

EagleFan

Socially Distant, as always
why in the world would the board VP not only say the kid should be reinstated, but that the coach should resign?? unless he meant he knew the coach would resign if they reinstated the player.
Board member Steven Vasbinder said that, not the Board VP.

Sounds to me like this Vasbinder really got the ball rolling on this ridiculous story.
 

hammer89

Active member
My mistake on the attribution, but yeah to your point, this dude got the ball rolling. No idea why he wanted the kid reinstated, but it's equally as ridiculous to try and toss out a newly hired coach over such a thing.
 

tom 48

Well-known member
According to the Board profiles:

Steven Vasbinder
Title: Student Achievement Liaison

So, perhaps he is the district " My kid can do no wrong" representative, which would explain his desire to have the kid reinstated.
 
.
Top