Monday, October 20, 2014

Academic Magnet football coach Walpole asked to resume coaching duty

Breaking Wednesday afternoon, 3:40pm from Bill Sharpe of Channel 5: Chairwoman of Chas. Co. Schools tells me expect a announcement today that Bud Walpole is reinstated as Football coach at Acad. Mag. Bud Walpole gets his job back this afternoon after meeting with seupt. McGinley,according to School board sources. Chairwoman of Chas. Co. school board says no need for board to meet if Dr. McGinley offers Bud Walpole his job back, this afternoon. Expect announcment soon from CCSD that Bud Walpole gets his old coaching job back from Supt. Dr. McGinley, according to school board chair.

Walpole has led Academic Magnet to become one of the surprise stories in Lowcountry high school football this year. The team is 6-2. He has been the head football coach at the school since 2005.

This is the statement from Dr. McGinley:

Coach Andrew Rusciolelli will serve as the interim head football coach. Coaches Steven Kamp and Gary Weart will be the assistants for the two remaining games of the season, the statement said.

They are practicing today: Jeff Hartsell of the Post and Courier said police kicked media off campus at Academic Magnet before football practice.

Bud Walpole statement from Hartsell: AMHS coach Bud Walpole statement: "truly sorry to anyone whom my actions or in actions may have offended." "I bear ultimate responsibility for any actions our player take as a group." "Even though their actions were not meant to be offensive we need to be aware of how our actions are perceived by others."

Scott Eisberg: McGinley- Mon Oct 13th allegation brought to McGinley's attn. Watermelon actions accompanied by monkey sounds. AcMag principal investigated, told McGinley coaches didnt feel any racial undertones to what was being done with watermelon ritual. Team brought to lecture hall on October 16, kids were individually interviewed while being detained.

Happened on 4 or 5 occasions, tradition that team participated in after victories with watermelon smashing. Initiated by seniors before Military Mag game. Face was drawn on watermelon. Given name for each game. 29 students, HC and 2 asst's interviewed. McGinley says the responsibility lies with adults, should not have been sanctioned. Fired Walpole.

McGinley has not yet talked to Bud Walpole. She will and then talk to board whether to fire or reinstate head coach Bud Walpole. Walpole was also fired as the women's basketball coach. Coach Walpole didn't know that the players put a face on the watermelon.

Eisberg says parents are trying to argue with McGinley.

The watermelon was placed on the bench before every game. McGinley: Two players typically smashed watermelons. Others locked arms and made chanting sounds around it. (per Brendan Clark). McGinley: Insensitive smashing, naming watermelon. Elizabeth Moffly says that they took a watermelon to the game, dropped it in the parking lot, and made it a part of the team ritual.

Here was a picture of the watermelon that the players drew from Channel 4. The first watermelon was named Junior per Moffly on Rocky D's show.

Alexandra Weishaupt at WCBD: Parents: team has had a great season because of Coach Walpole. They say his motto is 'do the right thing.' CCSD is violating trust.

They have one of the area's top RBs, Nate Schlosser, and several other players who could get college interest.

The reason why Walpole was let go is one of the strangest stories I have ever heard. Apparently, in a team-building exercise, Walpole had the team smash a watermelon after a recent win. The Charleston County School District considered this "racist."

Update from 3:15pm press conference: @CCPNews: AMHS Booster Club prez says players smashed melons at school, not at field, & sounds were "football grunts," not monkey noises. . Parents saying football players were taken out of class 4.5 hrs to be questioned by CCSD staff, w/o parental consent. Larry Kobrovsky, state Board of Ed: "Racism is real, but when you stretch it to the pt of absurdity you diminish the reality of it"

AcMag administration has barred media from entering campus this afternoon for football practice. Told to stay outside the gate.

School Board still in exec session with Dr. McGinley, delaying start of press conference on Walpole. David Shelton on Bobby Hartin said that this has occurred for several seasons. 

Tuesday morning update from Academic Magnet: Academic Magnet AD Curt Hoffman sent a statement this morning "my focus right now is to help the players and coaches in any way I can... all matters concerning Bud Walpole are presonnel matters and as such will not be commented on."

According to Channel 5, a parent from an opposing school complained about the watermelons being smashed after a win, and also said that the Magnet players made "monkey sounds." They also said that the players were taken into meetings last week by members of the school district for three to four hours (without parental consent) and questioned about the incident with the watermelon to see if there were any "racial undertones" which the kids denied.

From David Shelton of the Post and Courier: The celebration involved the smashing of watermelons, which were then picked up by the players and eaten as post game snacks. Social media reports say a complaint was filed with the district, which deemed the celebration inappropriate.

From Post and Courier: Charleston County School Board member Michael Miller said Tuesday he received the initial complaint from the parent of a Military Magnet High School student "a week or two after" Military Magnet's 53-30 loss to Academic Magnet on Sept. 5 at North Charleston High School.

The parent complained that the watermelon celebration was accompanied by "ape-like sounds offensive to African-Americans" and was later substantiated by others, Miller said.

"I told (Charleston County School District Superintendent) Dr. (Nancy) McGinley I wasn't going to shy away from saying I was the one who brought this to the District's attention," Miller said. "If I were to do that, it would be the same as if I were participating in the actions that brought the issue to the forefront in the first place."

From Channel 4: "The whole thing began when the football team started celebrating victories by smashing a watermelon and cheering in a circle to celebrate a hard-fought win," the student said in an email. "This was seen by a [Charleston County School District] official who deemed the act to be racist."

Academic Magnet football coach Bud Walpole has been let go. Scott Eisberg of Channel 4 was the first to report this. He will remain as a teacher. 

The student said Walpole did not purchase the watermelons.

Walpole and the team traveled to Whale Branch on Friday, a day after the interviews, the student said. The Raptors lost the game 63-6.

Some of the players talked with Charleston County Superintendent Dr. Nancy McGinley about it, and no straight answer was given.

Here is the Twitter exchange I had with an Academic Magnet student.

no, the football team smashed a watermelon, which is considered "racist by CCSD" they felt he did nothing to stop the "racism"

so they fired him. Right after school. That's just one of the several things CCSD did to anger the students so much.

They had a meeting today at the School Board, where unbeknownst to the student body, he was let go as the football coach. The team will finish out the season with an interim coach as they have two home region games to close the season, against Battery Creek and Bishop England. 

Kyle Saavedra, a player on the team, said on Twitter that CCSD told them to "move forward as a team" but how can we when Coach Walpole is the foundation of our team? With two games left in the regular season, this is a huge blow to the team. Walpole is very well-liked around the school.

Even with last week's blowout loss at Whale Branch, they are still in position to play in the playoffs.

A petition is in order to reinstate Walpole, with almost 1,700 signatures:

You will be hearing a lot more about this in the next few days.

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