Rootstown school leadership faces pressure to resign after blocking punishment for racist comments
Superintendent confirms the decision was his, in consultation with a portion of the board members
By Michael Indriolo and Ben Wolford
Rootstown Superintendent Andrew Hawkins said for the first time publicly that he reversed a disciplinary action against a football player who called teammates the n-word.
The confirmation came during a special Board of Education meeting Monday night, in which the board unanimously voted to accept the resignation of head football coach Troy Spiker, who said he quit his “dream job” as a matter of principle.
For over an hour, a parade of community members called on district leadership to resign, though at least one speaker backed Hawkins’ decision.
Hawkins says he consulted with other school board members before making the decision to overturn the punishment against the player.
It’s not clear if he consulted the entire board, however: Board of Education President Amanda Waesch previously told The Portager she was not informed or involved in the decision. On Monday, she called for an independent investigator to conduct a review of the process that led to Spiker’s resignation, and the other board members agreed.
The meeting in the Rootstown High School cafeteria comes after a dramatic week in which Spiker resigned after district officials overruled his decision to punish a player for violating team rules against using racist language. The reversal sparked a community uproar against the school administration and a social media hashtag: #IStandWithSpiker.
The player had called Black teammates the n-word and had received a warning before subsequently calling another white teammate a “useless … piece of shit,” disparaging his last name. Spiker kicked him off the team.
A friend of Spiker’s who spoke during the board meeting said that Spiker had begrudgingly agreed to accept Hawkins’ reversal of the punishment but told Hawkins he would simply bench the player. But Hawkins ordered Spiker to allow the student to play.
On Wednesday, Spiker announced he was resigning because the administration had undermined his leadership.
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