Westside coaches back at work after hazing investigation

JONESBORO, Ark. – Two Westside Consolidated School District coaches were back at work Monday after several weeks away from the job during a hazing investigation reported by the school.

Coaches Bobby Engle and Fred Carter were reinstated Monday, Dec. 4, after an initial investigation’s findings were seen as not including a terminable offense, a statement from Attorney Rebecca Worsham of Mixon & Worsham, PLC said on behalf of the district. The statement was released just before noon on Monday to NEA Report. 

Bobby Engle and Fred Carter were reinstated to their teaching and coaching positions on December 4, 2017. The district’s investigation is still on-going but is expected to conclude this week. Based on the initial findings, the district is confident that no employee acted in a manner that would warrant termination. The district feels that it is important for its employees to resume their classroom and fieldhouse duties as the end of the semester approaches, along with corresponding semester exams. Once the investigation is complete, the district will take appropriate personnel actions, if any, as warranted by the final investigative findings. The district will also be taking remedial measures to address the safety of student-athletes. These measures include addressing supervision in locker rooms, increasing dialogue relative to anti-hazing policies and behavioral expectations with coaches, student-athletes, and parents. The district remains focused on its commitment to ensuring a quality education in a safe environment for the students of Westside. – Attorney Rebecca Worsham representing Westside Schools

The original story, first reported by NEA Report, indicated a concerned parent had approached the school after learning of a hazing ritual involving the high school football team.

On Monday, November 13th, the Westside Consolidated School District’s administration was notified about a possible hazing initiation ritual among its high school football team. The District began an investigation and placed two coaches on paid administrative leave. The matter has been reported to the child maltreatment hotline and the District will cooperate with any law enforcement investigation.  Due to this matter involving students and personnel, the District cannot offer further details at this time.

Westside’s student handbook and Arkansas law prohibit all forms of hazing. Any student found in violation of the policy will be disciplined in accordance with the student handbook. The District encourages any students or parents who have information concerning this matter to contact their school principal. All hazing allegations will be taken seriously. Faculty and staff should direct any students who need support to speak with their counselors. The District will do everything necessary to ensure that our students can attend school in a safe environment. – Attorney Rebecca Worsham, representing Westside Schools, said on Nov. 16

Featured photo source: Jonesboro.com

Stan Morris Reporting

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