Inside the Newsroom

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Saturday, October 6, 2007

Timeline of Freshman Football controversy

The events leading up to the cancellation of the Saline freshman football season began back in August and came to a head the first week of October, according to an incident report obtained by the Saline Reporter. Other dates were provided by Saline High School principal Ben Williams in an report to the school board Saturday morning.

Aug. 27:
(approx. 5:30 p.m.) A Saline freshman football player is said to have swore at a coach during a conditioning practice. Approximately an hour later, head coach Jared Falkowski reports the incident to athletic director Rob White. White requests statements on the incident from Falkowski, assistant coach Mike Burchyett, and assistant coach Brian Buchanan.

Aug. 28:
(approx. 1:30 p.m.) White, Falkowski and Saline High School principal Ben Williams meet with the athelte and his parents. The student denies any swearing. The family accuses the coaches of denying the player water, of using abusive, intimidating and derogatory language, to the student-athletes and of violating the Michigan High School Athletic Association guidelines on hydration. Williams and White assure the family that an investigation into the incident would be held. The athlete was put on hiatus from practice pending the investigation.

After the meeting, Williams and White interview five freshman football players who the family said were witnesses of the incident and could corrobroate their son's story. The administrators also interview all four freshman coaches. Based on the interviews with athletes and coaches, Williams and White conclude that the freshman football staff broke no rules. They further conclude that the student conducted himself with "Gross Disrespect by cussing and threatening staff with lawsuits during practice." Williams and White uphold the coaches' decision to expel the student from the freshman football team.

Over the next month, the family appeals the decision and meets no less than three times with Superintendent Beverley Geltner. Dates of the those meetings have not been obtained.

Oct. 1
Williams receives an evening phone call from Geltner, informing him she has new information on the incident. They arrange an 8 a.m. meeting for the following day.

Oct. 2
(8 a.m.) Geltner meets with Williams where they review MHSAA guidelines for hydration and Geltner announces her decision to reinstate the student. Assistant coach Mike Burchyett resigns later that afternoon in objection to the reversal. Freshman football practice is cancelled.

Oct. 3
Sometime during the day, according to a letter from the team doctor obtained by the Reporter, Geltner has a phone conversation with Dr. Sean C. Adelman, in which they discuss in general terms hydration policies for athletic practices and games.

Prior to lunch, Geltner meets with Falkowski to discuss the status of the freshman football program.

After lunch, Geltner meets with Williams and White, at which time they tell her they have heard rumors that the other three freshman coaches might resign. Williams requested additional police presence on campus from Pittsfield Township, expecting student and parental emotions to run high. Prior to practice that afternoon, the coaches announce to the players they are stepping down. Practice is canceled. The Adrian game scheduled for the following evening is also canceled.

Oct. 4
7:15 a.m. Williams holds a crisis management meeting at the high school, anticipating upset students and parents. There are no incidents. Williams decides it would be "prudent" to provide the reinstated football player a security escort as needed throughout the day.

William and White begin considering options available to save the freshman football season. They find no good answers.

Oct. 5
From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Graden, Geltner, board president Lisa Slawson, and deputy superintendent of curriculum Betty Rosen-Leacher meet on and off to discuss options. Shortly before 4 p.m., the district announces the cancellation of the freshman football season.

Oct. 6
8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. A special school board meeting is held in the Union School gym. Nearly 200 parents, coaches, teachers, and students attend. More than 30 address the board, many calling for the superintendent's dismissal.

11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The board confers in closed session.

The next regularly scheduled school board meeting is 7 p.m. Oct. 9 at Union School.

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Blogger c dubbs said...

I believe it may be the coach who has cost the district this difficult far more than the superintendent.

"Geltner meets with Williams where they review MHSAA guidelines for hydration and Geltner announces her decision to reinstate the student. Assistant coach Mike Burchyett resigns later that afternoon in objection to the reversal."

It is the superintendents obligation to see to it that rules and regulations are followed to its fullest in order to provide the highest education AND safety in the district. Dr. Geltner is a very hard working and responsible leader. She takes her role very seriously and sometimes being the superintendent means that you must have the guts to change your mind and do what is right.

It is a shame that being a superintendent means that you have to put your job on the line trying to do your job the right way.

If the coach hadn't have walked away because, perhaps.. he was in the wrong, maybe Saline sports wouldn't be suffering.

Why is it okay to attack the lady who has to make the tough decisions without stopping to think that maybe it was his (the coaches) decisions that have cost so much agony within the district?

Step back and take a second to think about the work that goes in to being a superintendent.

I gaurantee that Ms. Geltner has nothing but the best of intentions for your children. So easily is quality work and devotion overlooked in the light of one incident caused by a coach and student.

Who really is at fault here?

The coach who walked away?

Or the Superintendent who tried to make it right?

She obviously made attempts to get the facts on what happened and she applied the rules to find a solution.

If anything, folks, Dr. Geltner was doing her job.

October 8, 2007 at 2:24 PM  

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