Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

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January 31, 2013

'Bullying' incident at R-H results in firing

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — MIDDLEPORT — Allegations that a varsity girls basketball player was “bullied” recently by teammates in the locker room has resulted in a veteran coach's firing and the suspension of some players at Royalton-Hartland High School.

Roy-Hart School Superintendent Kevin MacDonald emphasized on Thursday that the Jan. 18 incident, which he termed “extremely sensitive,” was one that could not be ignored by Roy-Hart administrators. Confirmed was the firing of Don Baker as varsity girls basketball coach and the suspension of “some” players on the team for an unspecified amount of time. MacDonald declined further details due to the sensitivity of the incident and the age of those involved.

“There was an incident that did occur with the girls basketball team that's been hard on the district and on everyone involved,” MacDonald said.

Sources close to the Union-Sun & Journal said the Roy-Hart matter involves a locker room incident in which some sort of attack was waged on a teammate who has learning disabilities. Neither MacDonald, nor any district officials would confirm that report.

On Jan. 18, Roy-Hart's Lady Rams played a girls basketball game at Barker High School, where the alleged incident — which was also allegedly recorded on a cell phone — took place.

The incident came to light when a teammate who witnessed the event discussed it with her coach and school board president Patricia Reigle, who reported it to MacDonald the night it happened. When Baker, a popular district coach for 30 years, did not report the incident the following week to his superiors, as required by law, he was fired, Reigle said.

“I'm a mandated reporter as an administrator. If someone came up to me and reported (for example) that someone got raped in a bathroom, by law I have to tell someone,” she said. “(The incident) happened on a Friday night, Monday was Martin Luther King Day, a holiday, and Tuesday, when it wasn't reported to the superintendent, (MacDonald) acted. People have to understand that it can't be ignored. It's the law.”

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