Parents Raise Concerns at Wetzel County Board of Education Meeting

Photo by Lauren Matthews Parents and other community members gather at Monday’s Wetzel County Board of Education meeting, where some parents expressed concerns about alleged bullying of Magnolia High School football players by a coach.

Concerned parents and community members appeared before the Wetzel County Board of Education Monday night with claims of Magnolia High School football players being bullied by a coach.

Many of those who spoke to the board referenced a Sept. 22 incident that allegedly occurred after Magnolia’s 29-27 loss to Wheeling Central Catholic High School. The coach was not referenced by name during the meeting.

Parent Christina Stapel said a player was “manhandled out of anger” after the game.

“Even if you are slapping shoulder pads to get attention … it is not OK to put hands on someone out of anger,” she said.

Stapel said the students cannot stand up and fight for themselves because they do not know if there will be retaliation, such as loss of playing time. She described the situation as an embarrassment to Magnolia High School and the county, and she said students shouldn’t have to worry about being belittled in front of their teammates and coaches.

“I know some of the coaching staff is wanting to leave, and I don’t think it is the time to do it,” Stapel said. “I think they need to come together as a coaching staff. Changes need to take place. Adults need to step in and get these changes taking place. … See if you can help intervene, initiate a counseling session or something, to get everyone on the same page.”

Parent and middle school football coach Bryan Hostuttler said he has coached many of the players on Magnolia’s football team. He said he has seen the players in tears after certain games, and that the players lament that all they hear is negative feedback, nothing positive.

“Oftentimes verbal abuse is just worse than getting punched in the face,” Hostuttler said. “The scars last the rest of one’s life.”

Another parent, Elizabeth Seckman, said she believes the employee should not be able to coach while the investigation continues. She believes the concerns of parents and students are not being heard.

Board of education President Warren Grace said the board is in process of investigating the situation. Grace said the board has received a “a lot of information here this evening and are aware of this. We are in the process of looking into this.”

Grace said that although parents have not heard anything, “it doesn’t mean nothing is being done.”

“There is a process involved here. If a hearing were to be held, we have to be totally impartial and hear the facts,” Grace said.