GREENVILLE — Thursday night’s meeting of the Greenville Board of Education saw packed house of parents seeking answers regarding a number of troubling issues.
Recent actions by members of the Greenville athletic staff and faculty were called into question by attendees, specifically those of Varsity Basketball Coach Kyle Joseph, Cheerleading Advisor Tiffany Labig, and Career Tech Family and Consumer Science Instructor Rita Potter.
One audience member, Brandy Stastny, told the board her son and one other boy had been replaced by two others on the GreenWave eighth grade team, accusing Joseph of “handpicking” players despite a successful tryout by the two boys, according to the eighth grade boys coach. She also accused the coach’s wife of posting derogatory statements against her on social media.
“Why could a kid, any kid for that matter, go through a four-day tryout, when you’re going to handpick your team? Coach Joseph never attended one of those tryouts,” she said. The parent added she had not received a satisfactory response from Yingst or Greenville Superintendent Doug Fries, and that her son no longer attends Greenville schools.
Cindy Fisher told the board, “I’m here to support exactly what she’s saying. I’m a fan, I’m a parent, I’m a grandparent, and I’ve been around long enough, and had kids playing, and my grandkids are involved — there are things that need to be changed.”
Kent Emerick said the coach has “demoralized” his son by not providing better direction and giving him barely any playing time.
“The main thing that bothers me is the respect he’s not giving these kids,” he said.
One parent, Jeri Class, accused Cheer Advisor Labig of forcing her daughter to choose between cheerleading and volleyball, despite the school’s policy allowing students to participate in two sports simultaneously.
“I did not have one faculty member stand up for my daughter,” she said, noting her daughter quit cheerleading as a result.
“There’s nobody that opposes someone being involved in two sports,” responded Fries.
“She cried for two days, she didn’t want to quit cheer, but ultimately that’s what she had to do because she was treated [this way] by an adult,” said the mother.
Robyn Moore-Newberry addressed council regarding the school’s policy on student bathroom usage. Newberry had previously posted a video on Facebook of her meeting with Greenville High School Principal Stan Hughes and Teacher Rita Potter, in which she accused the instructor of not allowing her daughter to use the bathroom and publicly humiliating her daughter over unpaid student fees.
“Rita’s rule is, no one is allowed to leave the room unless it’s an emergency. Can the board tell me what’s considered ‘an emergency?’” she asked. “Does she have to have blood running down her leg — I hate to be graphic — but let’s be realistic. We’re dealing with teenage kids, they may be pains in the butt … I know how kids are, I have them. When is it an emergency?”
Board President Brad Gettinger told Newberry, “I don’t believe our policy closely defines what constitutes an emergency, but you can’t necessarily capture every situation in a policy, you do your best, that leaves some of it for interpretation.”
“I can assure you the high school administration is aware of the situation and they’re working through it,” added Fries.
Another parent asked the board why it is allowing Kris Garrison, who is subject to two civil protection orders and under investigation for stalking, to volunteer and attend Greenville girls’ athletic events. Garrison has also been an announcer for Greenville softball for years.
“He’s harassing and asking for pictures of female athletes,” he said. “Is it possible for the school to get some type of protection order to get him away from these female athletes?”
“To that question specifically, I’ll say it’s a legal issue which I think we would certainly need to involve the school’s [legal] counsel,” said Gettinger, without committing to a course of action.
Fries, in response to further queries by The Daily Advocate, said, “The administration and board always consider any concerns raised by parents. However, we also look at policy, law, handbook regulations and master agreement regulations and carry out operations appropriately.”
“All coaching positions, including cheerleading, have an evaluation process that is followed by their immediate supervisor and recommended to the Superintendent and Board for further recommendation and approval.”
“Any disciplinary action that is ever determined to be necessary is handled individually, privately, and appropriately following established regulations,” he added.
Asked for whether or not the board will seek to ban Garrison from girls’ softball games, Fries responded,” Any time the district has any concern with a citizen, it is dealt with appropriately after getting legal advice, if needed.”
Regarding the district’s policy on bathroom usage, Fries said, “It is not the high school or a district philosophy to not let a student go to the restroom. The district is aware of the situation and is handling it appropriately. Our high school administrators have assured me that in the case being discussed that the student did get to use the restroom shortly after the request.”
The next Greenville Board of Education meeting is scheduled for March 15 at 7 p.m.
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