Weatherford Democrat

October 22, 2013

Aledo ISD refutes bullying claim

District investigates, finds no wrongdoing following complaint of Western Hills parent after lopsided win


Weatherford Democrat

— By JUDY SHERIDAN

Bullying allegations made by the parent of a Western Hills football player against Aledo ISD’s football coaching staff — after a 91-0 loss on the field Friday — are groundless according to Aledo ISD Superintendent Derek Citty, who said he is satisfied with the results of an investigation conducted by school officials.

“I’m confident that there was no intent to embarrass the kids or run the score up,” Citty said. “Our coaches did everything they could to keep the score within reasonable bounds.”

The unusual bullying complaint — which contends that Aledo’s coaching staff should have eased up when the game got out of hand, according to Aledo High School Principal Dan Peterson, alleges harm was done to the entire Western Hills football team.

It states that Aledo coaches bullied their own football players into beating up the team from Fort Worth’s Western Hills, Aledo Head Coach Tim Buchanan said, while commending Aledo’s players for their sportsmanship.

Sportsmanship

Both Citty and Buchanan, however, counter that Aledo coaches instead tried to better Western Hills’ chances to score as the game progressed.

“When we were on offense, the clock ran all the time,” Citty said. “When the other team was on offense, we ran the clock normally.”

Buchanan said 17 different Bearcats touched the ball, either by running, calling or throwing.

“We don’t normally do that in one season,” he said. “Our starting running back touched the ball five times.”

Aledo’s backup offensive lineman and backup receiver were in for the second possession, Buchanan said.

“We started subbing second-team kids in from that point on,” he said. “As it became more lopsided, we put in more second-team kids.

“In the third quarter, we had 100 percent second-team kids after the first possession.”

While concessions were made, Buchanan said, Aledo should not be asked to play badly so the other team doesn’t look bad.

“Do I want to score 91 points when the other team is not able to tackle us?” he asked. “No, but I’m not going to ask our players to take a knee.”

Player empathy

Citty, a former football coach, said Aledo’s players showed empathy for the losing Fort Worth team.

“After you win, it’s music, kids are dancing, it’s euphoria,” he said. “After this game it was quiet, somber.

“The kids did not get pleasure out of winning the game in that way. In fact, some of our kids asked Coach Buchanan what they could do to keep this thing from getting any worse than it did.”

Citty said Peterson, responsible for conducting the investigation, talked to the parent who filed the initial complaint, “a very amenable gentleman.”

“We were able to clear the air on a number of issues,” Citty said. “I understand his position. He watched his son get beat 91 to nothing, and he had to spend time with him after the game.

“It’s demoralizing to be beaten that badly. He probably acted a little out of emotion — I don’t know, I can’t speak for that gentleman.”

Citty said he talked with Fort Worth ISD Superintendent Walter Dansby, Buchanan spoke with Western Hills Coach John Naylor and Peterson talked with his counterpart at Western Hills High School.

“The staff from both the school districts are on the same page,” he said. “We fully see each other’s position on this, and there’s not going to be an issue between the two of us.”

Clint Bond, a spokesperson for Western Hills, said the school district had no statement to offer.

“There’s nothing for us to comment about,” he said. “We didn’t file a complaint.

“There’s no change in our relationship with Aledo ISD — whatever it was on Thursday, it is on Tuesday.”

Talent pool

The crux of the issue is the difference in the talent pool, Citty said.

“We are a very, very good football team — in every way, offensively, defensively and special teams,” he said. “We’re playing in a district that isn’t as deep in talent on their teams as we are.

“We certainly hope it doesn’t happen again, but again, if you have that lopsided scenario ... We have the best 4A team in the state right now. We’re ranked number one.”

Citty said he hopes the UIL will separate Aledo from the Fort Worth schools during the February realignment.

“We think it’s in the best interest for Fort Worth and for Aledo ISD that the UIL split us out,” he said. “We hope the UIL will let Fort Worth go back to competing against Fort Worth schools.

“We would like to be in a more competitive district.”

Buchanan said odds are, that’s not going to happen.

“That could help, but the UIL has their hands full with over 1,200 schools in Texas,” he said.

“There’s a good chance that we’ll be in the same district next year.”

The coach said the best solution is that Western Hills gets better.

“If the roles were reversed, Aledo parents would not be mad at the Western Hills’ coaches,” he said, “They would be mad at Aledo’s coaches and school board. Aledo parents would want something done to make Aledo better, not make Western Hills worse.”

Playoffs preparation

Buchanan said Aledo has had three games this season where the full second offense has taken over the game in the second quarter, a less than optimal situation for Aledo’s starting players.

“One game is not hard to manage,” he said, “What makes it hard is getting closer and closer to the playoffs. You want your starters to play more.”   

The recent 91-0 point spread is the largest this season, but the Bearcats have won all their games by large margins, beating Highland Park 44-3; Stephenville 56-14; PrepaTec (Monterrey, Mexico) 49-0; Arlington Heights 84-7; South Hills 77-16 and Wyatt 84-7.

The unusual bullying allegation was submitted online and automatically emailed to Peterson, his assistants and the high school counseling office about midnight Friday, Citty said.

The procedure was established to try to eliminate more bullying, he said, which tends to be student against student.

Every district in Texas is required to have the ability for the community to file a complaint about bullying, the superintendent said, and the district must ethically and legally investigate all complaints.