Westport Coach Deserves Fair Hearing [OPINION]
A Westport High School coach has been suspended for allegedly making a "racially insensitive remark." He won't tell us who the coach is or what the remark was that the coach is alleged to have made, but Superintendent Gary Reese felt it necessary to put out a press release about it anyway.
According to Reese, the remark was uttered on December 13 but to whom and why remains a mystery. Reese says the coach has been placed on paid administrative leave while the matter is investigated.
“Our district takes all allegations of this nature seriously. We will conduct a full and thorough review," he said. As he should.
Westport is a small town and news travels fast. It probably didn't take long for folks to figure out who had been suspended when one of the coaches didn't show up on Monday. Whoever the coach is, I hope that he or she gets a fair hearing. Allegations of insensitivity can get you ostracized pretty quickly these days.
I wish Superintendent Reese had explained in his release the definition of "racially insensitive." What exactly does racially insensitive mean? If he or she call someone the "N-word," that would be a racist remark and should result in immediate dismissal. But "racially insensitive" – what is that?
Superintendent Reese should have completed his investigation of the matter before issuing a press release. Racist behavior is unacceptable and should not be tolerated in a public school – or anywhere else for that matter – but being insensitive could be something different altogether. It seems everyone's sensitivities are being bruised these days.
If the coach is found to have been more than just insensitive, he or she might need to be fired. But if Superintendent Reese determines that the coach was simply insensitive, what happens then?
Let's be clear, I am not defending the coach's behavior. I don't know what he or she is alleged to have said. I simply think that because of the ease in which charges of racism or racial insensitivity are tossed about these days, the accused is deserving of being treated fairly.
Reese is limited in what he can say publically about this matter and therefore should have said nothing at all until the investigation is complete. Whatever the coach is alleged to have said, he or she deserves a fair hearing and this ain't it. Reese should be given a detention for his handling of all of this.
Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.