Inside the Newsroom

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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Copy of the Incident Report

This item, obtained by our reporters, is provided below in its entirety.
In the interest of protecting the privacy of the minor/student involved, however, a small portion of the testimony has not been reprinted.

Saline Area Schools

by Ben Williams, Principal
Rob White, Athletic Director

The purpose of this report is to present the findings from the investigation that was conducted on Tuesday, August 28th, 2007.
On Monday, August 27th, 2007, around 6:30 p.m. in the evening, Mr. White received a call from Jared Falkowski, Head Freshmen Football Coach. Jared described an incident that had taken place toward the end of their practice that day that would be considered Gross Disrespect by a student-athlete toward a coach. The student-athlete in question is Student X, and the behavior, as Jared described it, was directed toward the coaching staff.

Mr. White requested that the coaching staff who witnessed the behavior by Student X document what they observed. Those three reports (from coaches Jared Falkowski, Mike Burchyett, and Brian Buchanan) confirm that with fifteen minutes left in practice, the players were given a water break. After that water break, they started the last ten minutes of conditioning. A few minutes into the conditioning, Student X yelled at Coach Buchanan, "We never get any water." To this statement Coach Buchanan replied that he had just received a water break and could have more water once conditioning was over. Student X was glaring at him. Coach Buchanan asked him if there was a problem, and he continued to glare, then when Coach Buchanan walked away, he yelled, "F--- you!" Coach Burchyett came right over and said, "Student X, we have a problem." His reply was, "Yeah, and my parents are going to sue you to h---." At this point, Coach Falkowski told Student X to go to the locker room and remove his equipment. Coach Buchanan noted that Student X did not stop to get water on his way to the locker room. As practice was wrapping up, around 5:30 p.m., Coach Buchanan went to the locker room to check on Student X, who was still visibly upset. Student X's locker is right by the door. Coach Buchanan stood by the door as he told Student X that he needed to calm down because he just wanted to talk to Student X. Student X said, "(this portion of the testimony has been deleted to protect the student's privacy.)" Coach Buchanan told him that football was a serious commitment and that if he wasn't having fun he should inform his parents. At this point, Coach Falkowski arrived in the locker room as he was leaving practice and Student X repeated his statement about hating football and how his parents won't let him quit. Coach Falkowksi told Student X he would talk to his parents.

Student X's brother was there to pick Student X up, and after talking to Student X, the brother went to the coaches' office by the football field to ask about what had happened. Coach Falkowski asked him for his father's cell phone number and told him he needed to discuss it with Student X's parents. Student X's brother provided the phone number then walked away saying "f---ing morons," or "f---ing idiots" in front of many players.

Ben Williams, the building principal, and Rob White, the athletic director, and Coach Falkowski met with Mr. and Mrs. X and their three sons, on Tuesday, August 28th, 2007 at 1:30 p.m. to discuss the incident. During the meeting, Student X denied swearing or ever stating that he hated football and that his parents wouldn't let him quit. In fact, he denied all of the coaches' statements about what happened that afternoon. During the meeting, each of the family members began making various allegations against the freshmen football staff. Mr. Williams and Mr. White assured the family that they would be investigating the entire incident further, including the their allegations. The family was told that Student X was on a hiatus from practice until the investigation was concluded. They were assured that the investigation would be conducted as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Immediately after the meeting ended, Mr. Williams and Mr. White interviewed five freshmen football players whose names the X family provided as witnesses to corroborate Student X's story. Also interviewed were the four freshmen football coaches and the full-time athletic trainer.

X Family's Allegations
The student-athletes participating in freshmen football are not given ample opportunities to hydrate.
Of the five players interviewed (whose names the X family provided), all five said any time they wanted water or needed water they felt like they could get water. They did not feel like the amount of water was being restricted. Coach Falkowski provided the practice schedule from the date in question and there were many water breaks scheduled. The full-time athletic trainer, Jaime Coral, said that the entire football program makes water available all the time and provides many opportunities for student-athletes to drink. She stated that the football staff does a tremendous job providing opportunities for student-athletes to stay hydrated. And she is at every practice and every competition.

X Family's Allegations
Coach Falkowski uses abusive and derogatory comments as a form of intimidation toward student-athletes, such as "You're a bunch of f---ing p---ies," and "If it's not a stick in your eye, get your a-- on the field," and "You don't need water, it will make you stronger," and "Stop being a f---ing p---y all the time," and "You do not deserve water, you did not work hard enough."
Of the five players interviewed (whose names the X family provided), all five adamantly stated that none of the coaches had ever made such statements, nor had they ever singled out any one athlete with derogatory comments. They also stated that the coaching staff uses praise more than criticism. Of the four coaches interviewed, none of them had ever heard any of the coaching staff make those comments that the X family described.

X Family's Allegations
Student X missed the water break because he was talking to Coach Bianci and was really sent to the locker room during the conditioning for being disrespectful for asking for water.
Coach Bianci remembered having many conversations with many players during practice, but could not recall whether he was talking to Student X during the water break right before conditioning. Of the five players interviewed (whose names the X family provided), all five of them stated that they know when water breaks are, and that they always get a water break before conditioning. A couple of the players stated that Student X doesn't like conditioning and has a pattern of messing around before conditioning starts and dragging his heels, such as stopping to tie his shoes, etc. In this interview with the five players, it came out that during conditioning (before the incident started), Student X said to his teammates, "F--- this. I don't want to do these sprints." In addition, the five players interviewed, as well as two of the coaches who were nearby, stated that Coach Falkowski sent Student X to the locker room after Student X yelled "F--- you," and "My parents are going to sue you to h--l," not after a request for water.

X Family's Allegations
Student X never swore.
Of the five players interviewed (whose names the X family provided), two of them thought that Student X was saying "F--- you" to a teammate. Three of the players were sure he was saying it to Coach Buchanan. All five heard him swear. Coach Buchanan and Coach Burchyett heard him swear and were sure that Student X was saying it to Coach Buchanan.

X Family's Allegations
The freshmen football staff are in violation of MHSAA rules by not allowing Student X to get water immediately when he asked for water.
Of the five players interviewed (whose names the X family provided), two of them said they heard Student X ask for water. Three of them never heard Student X mention water. Of the four coaches, only Coach Buchanan heard Student X mention water, and he didn't think that Student X was asking for it right then, he heard Student X say, "We never get any water." In addition, the MHSAA does not have a rule about water that schools must follow. The paperwork the X family brought with them that they printed off from the MHSAA website is a suggestion, not a rule. Exact wording on the material entitled Preseason Alerts is that "Coaches and administrators should review the material and also consider similar procedures . . . "
The material then states that for "Proper Conditioning in Hot Weather, heatstroke and heat exhaustion may be preventable if the proper precautions are taken. Probably the best method is to have water available at all times and to allow the athlete to drink water whenever he/she needs it. Never restrict the amount of water an athlete drinks, and be sure the athletes are drinking the water." As previously stated, the five players and the trainer interviewed strongly believe that the freshmen football staff is following the MHSAA suggestion provided on their website.

Based on the investigation conducted by Mr. Williams and Mr. White, they conclude that the freshmen football staff have broken no rules, nor have they conducted themselves inappropriately or without regard to student-athlete safety. Mr. Williams and Mr. White do conclude that Student X did conduct himself with Gross Disrespect by cussing and threatening staff with lawsuits during practice.
The Saline Athletic Department's Rules and Regulations, which every parent and athlete are provided, states that "The behavior of Saline student/athletes will be held to the highest of standards. Athletes must understand that they represent the community and the school. Proper behavior in school, at athletic contests, and during bus rides shall be exhibited at all times. Coaches will deal with poor sportsmanship, vulgarity, and other forms of poor behavior and disrespect. Any action by athletes that violates behavior standards will result in appropriate discipline ranging from corrective action prescribed by the coach, to suspension from competitions(s), or expulsion from the team.

After discussing the best interest of the program and appropriate discipline for Student X with the four freshmen coaches, Mr. Williams and Mr. White concur that Student X should be expelled from the freshmen football team, effective immediately.

It should be noted that Student X may try out for another sport in another season this year if he so chooses. However, prior to participating in another sport, Student X must pay his pay-to-participate fee, which has not been paid yet this year, or he must fill out a scholarship form prior to tryouts.

It should also be noted that there has been an issue this year with the X family not wanting to pay admission fees at sporting events. It should be understood that when any of the X family comes to sporting events in the future, they must pay the admission fee like everyone else.

Ben Williams, Saline High School Principal
Rob White, Saline Area Schools' Athletic Director


Blogger Ron said...

After reading every available article on this incident in both the Ann Arbor News and the Saline Reporter, my comment is the following.

Dr. Geltner, AFTER making her decision to reinstate "Student-X", went to the Team Doctor for advice to support her decision. She purposely misrepresented the Doctor's informal comments in an e-mail the day AFTER she reinstated "Student-X" to the team. It should be obvious to all that this effort to "cover her backside" was wrong.

My understanding is that lying or misrepresentation of the facts by Dr. Geltner is grounds for dismissal. It is time for this action to take place and the community as a whole to begin the healing process. Lying to the community in such manner is a disgrace, an abuse of power and more importantly an abuse of the publics faith in this administrator.

The paid leave should be terminated immediately as should Dr. Geltner.

Thank You,

Ron Schofield Jr.
Saline, Michigan

October 15, 2007 at 12:00 PM  

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