SIDNEY — The Fairlawn Local Schools Board of Education meeting was packed Wednesday night as six former members of the volleyball team addressed the board about their reasons for quitting the team.
“I want to clear up a rumor,” said MaCalla Huelskamp. “Our playing time was not an issue. We didn’t quit because of our record. The way she (Coach Johanna Peters) treated us was the reason we quit.
“We go to bullying programs and it’s sad that a coach and parents do it to us. We love the girls on the team,” she said.
“I love volleyball,” said Madison Huelskamp. “She told me to quit before the season started. I was told if I couldn’t get along with a girl, then I should quit.”
Lauren Weinschenk told the board that the season has been rough on every girl on the team.
“We went into the season with a good attitude,” she said. “Kelly (Tobie, former coach) was gone.”
But, she said, the girls were willing to work with the new coach as a team.
“She seemed to dislike anyone who liked Kelly,” said Weinschenk. “She didn’t want to know what position we had played last year. She didn’t care about our traditions. We wanted to work together.
“We didn’t quit because we hate anyone on the team,” she continued. “She (Peters) disrespected us.”
Weinschenk said they also quit because they didn’t want this year’s junior class to have “a senior year like we’ve had.”
Grace Hageman said she and the coach disagreed on a family commitment.
“She told me my priority was out of line because I show cattle with my family,” said Hageman.”
Hageman said comments the coach allegedly made about the team in public were told to the girls.
“We went to the administration,” said Hageman. “We went to the guidance counselor. We went to J.T. (Tidwell, athletic director). We felt like were were being shut down. We want to stand up for what is right. We don’t want this to happen again next year.”
Ciera Driskell voiced her opinions about the coach’s ability to coach to the team. But then she told of an experience that happened to her at the tournament game the night before.
“It’s not OK for parents to scream personally at me,” she said. “There were two parents, who are in the room right now, who stood up for me.”
Ciera’s mom, Christy Driskell, told the board more of what happened at the game.
“Last night at the game, my daughter was screamed at for quitting the team,” said Christy. “It’s not right for an adult to get in a 17-year-old’s face and say what he said. Two people stood up to him.
“Something needs to be done. It’s not right for an adult to harass a teenager,” she said.
High School Principal John Stekli said, “Last night shouldn’t have happened.”
“A policy needs to be put in place for parents (when something) like this happens,” said Christy. “This was an adult at a tournament game. You (person involved) made yourself look terrible in front of the crowd.”
Lauren Dudgeon echoed her teammates feelings about the volleyball season.
Board President Bob Gold thanked the girls for “standing up here. It took a lot of courage. I salute you and I respect you for speaking your minds. I appreciate the feedback you’ve given us.”
The girls said they were accused of cheering for Fairlawn’s opponent during the game Tuesday night.
“You were cheering for us,” said Superintendent Jeff Hobbs, who was sitting behind the teens at the game. “You didn’t misbehave. You didn’t do anything wrong. You had as much right to be there because you all bought a ticket to the game.”
During an executive session, Hobbs said the issue was discussed but no action was taken when the board went back into the regular meeting. The matter will be considered at future board meetings.
When contacted Thursday for comments about the season, Peters said, “This was a tough season. We look forward to an exciting year where we can continue to grow the volleyball program at Fairlawn. With this year behind us, we will learn and grow through the challenges we faced.”
Treasurer Keith Doseck reviewed the 5-year forecast with the board.
“This is one of the worst ones we’ve ever had,” said Doseck. “We have no more (additional) money from the state. Our open enrollment numbers are going down. The farm values are decreasing by 20 to 25 percent.
“This year’s we’re going to break even,” he said. “After that, it’s (carryover) going down. We’re spending way too much. In year three of the forecast, we’ll have a $600,000 balance. We have to start thinking about this now. We’ll need to cut or maintain (at present levels) if there is no additional revenue coming in.”
In other business, the board:
• Congratulated the FCCLA members for receiving the Ohio School Boards Association’s Special Regional Program award. The members were honored for the money they raise for cancer awareness. During the 2016-17 school year, they raised $10,000. In seven years, they have raised $75,000.
• Heard from the gifted students on how they like the program and what they are learning. This is the first year there has been a gifted program for students in grades 4-6.
• Heard an update on the district’s report card which was recently released by the state.
• Learned a new school sign is now at the end of Johnston Road at state Route 29. The old sign will be moved the other other end of Johnston Road. The sign was built and erected by the Fairlawn FFA and sponsored by Fairlawn FFA, the Fairlawn Class of 2018 and Lochard Inc.
• Accepted the resignation of Anthony M. Cardo as part-time custodian.
• Awarded a one-year contract to Karen Ike as Support Local Professional Development Committee member for the 2017-18 school year.
• Adopted a policy on career advising.
• Employed Florence Caruthers, Jessica Hoying, Mary Beth Labbett, Brittany Younkman and Dominic Lehman as substitute teachers at $100 per day.
• Employed Sharon K. Phelps as a substitute bus driver at $16.78 per hour.
• Approved an unpaid leave of absence without insurance for Debra Beers, full-time bus driver.
• Accepted donations for the Fairlawn musicals in memory of Michael Steed. Donations accepted were from Penelope and Gerry Williamson, $50; David and Cheryl Hepner, $25; and Carol and Amos Johns, $50.
• Accepted the resignation of teacher Dustin Woods. He has been hired by Worthington Kilbourne as their new head baseball coach and will be subbing in the school district for the remainder of the year.
• Employed Samantha Maas as a long-term substitute teacher for the 2017-18 school year.
• Employed Catessa Cathcart as a substitute aide at $9.50 per hour.
• Authorized the treasurer to pay Aaron Cox, Justin Tidwell, Nathan Sailor (Upper Valley Career Center employee) and Tara Berning (UVCC employee) at $400 bonus.
• Approved substitute resource officer Mark Henman be paid $30 per hour.
• Accepted the resignation of Britnie Middleton as LPDC Committee member.
• Employed Mary Walker as a substitute aide at $9.50 per hour.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.