DHS Football

DHS Football

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Christi Baisden started this petition to Please read and sign below to support our football coaches

After 6 long months, another investigation has been launched into the horrible act that took place at DHS on Oct. 31st. JV and Varsity football coaches are under investigation and MCPS has placed Coach Vinny Colbert, along with other members of the Junior Varsity coaching staff, on administrative leave until further notice. This includes Coach Colbert’s abrupt removal from the Allied Softball and Bocce programs at Damascus High, and because of this unexplained and unsubstantiated forced leave, he is now unable to finish out the softball season with his beloved students.

It is because of this unfair leave that we have started a petition for action to save our coaches, who have dedicated their lives to our students on JV Football, Varsity Football, Allied Bocce and Allied Softball. These men are being held accountable for actions out of their control, and the effects of the undue punishment inflicted on them impacts their families, their players, our programs, our school and our entire community. We hope you will join us in fighting for our coaches, who have been dedicating their lives to our children for over 10 years, and have a combined coaching tenure of over 30 years.

It is not our coaches who should pay the price for this event when:

   MCPS ALLOWED a student with known violent behaviors, over fifty counts of disciplinary actions, including criminal and sexual violations, to transfer to DHS. Upon his transfer, DHS staff, including coaches, had no access to the student’s records and had no knowledge of his past offenses.

    Prior to the incident on October 31, MCPS had NO written policy regarding supervision in the locker room. The only written policy required coaches to put in at least 60 hours of extra time into the team for things like field and facility upkeep. Our coaches easily surpass this number spending countless hours every week supporting our children. Additionally, this horrible act took place by a small handful of boys well prior to practice start time.

   Since 2006, when the current football staff took over the program, DHS has had a zero-tolerance hazing policy in writing. This was put in place by the coaches, not the county. All players and staff are required to sign the zero-tolerance policy at the beginning of every season, and it is discussed at length at the mandatory player/parent meeting on Day 1 of the season.

    The coaching staff takes all known behavioral issues very seriously, including those reported by other DHS staff regarding in class behavior and grades. Any such issues were addressed immediately.

    There are countless past and present DHS students and parents who have spoken to the coaching staff’s love and commitment for their players and the program over the 13 years they have been involved. Additionally, these past players attest to the immediate disciplinary actions taken by the coaching staff if ever a behavior issue did arise. These actions included not participating in practice or games, and if necessary, immediate removal from the team.

   After the horrific Oct. 31 incidents, MCPS REQUIRED DHS administration and coaches to remain silent about the events, cease all communications with families, players and media. This allowed for hateful rumors, hearsay and verbal attacks on our coaches, children and community that still continue.

   Following the attacks, MCPS took no action to keep reporters off of school grounds during the school day, allowing the media to catch students (who are minors, particularly students who had no involvement with any of these sport programs) for interviews, further perpetuating rumors and panic.

    As was determined by both internal and external investigations, and clearly stated by the MD State’s Attorney, there is NO evidence of a “hazing tradition” within the Damascus football program. This type of incident has never been reported to the current staff or coaches, and there are hundreds of players willing to attest to this.

    Currently, our Allied Sports program has no head coach and our football program has no JV staff. If the leave of absence turns into a termination or termination of the entire staff, there is no way our storied program will survive nor find quality replacements this far into the year. The entire program has been affected from team chemistry, quality of workouts and instruction, to recruiting of our varsity players who had nothing to do with this incident. Not to mention our innocent allied softball players who now head into playoffs with no head coach.

   MCPS IGNORED all requests over many years by the DHS Boosters, Administration and Athletic Department to replace the antiquated, disjointed men’s locker room. The DHS men’s locker room is actually 3 separate team rooms each closed off by a single door leading into a common room of smaller lockers. It is physically impossible for a coach to monitor all three of these rooms. In addition to football players, other fall sport athletes are in the main locker room without their coaches present. DHS has pleaded with MCPS for YEARS for a new updated open locker room to better supervise the athletes to which we received no help nor response.

    In combination, this coaching staff has been positively impacting our players and community for over 30 years with not one malicious incident reported to them. The incident of Oct. 31st was a horrific attack, by a small number of students. Our coaches do not deserve to lose their jobs over an incident to which they had to control. If MCPS truly wants the community and students to heal, these men are the ones to help us do it. To fire them, would be a cowardly bow to political pressure.

   We hope you will join us in supporting our coaching staff, support to end the required leave, and allow the innocent victims and Damascus community to begin the process of healing. It is our hope that following this event, MCPS will work with all programs, students and coaches to take the necessary actions to prevent something like this from ever happening again.

    Time is of the essence, if you are would like to voice your concern and support for the DHS coaching staff and the repercussions this decision will have on our entire school and community, please immediately contact:

Dr. Jack R. Smith, Superintendent, MCPS

Jack_Smith@mcpsmd.org

Jeffrey Sullivan, Director of System Wide Athletics, MCPS

Jeffrey_K_Sullivan@mcpsmd.org

Dan Moreson, 

Dan.Morse@WashPost.com

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