MASSILLON, Ohio -- For about a decade a group of students described as the Massillon Washington High School 'super-fans' have fired up crowds at home games and during school pep rallies.
The “Village Idiots” paint their bodies, dress in wild costumes and use bullhorns to show their spirit. Principal Brad Warner, however, has become concerned that the group's antics have become increasingly offensive, bordering on vulgar, in recent weeks so he has told them he is shutting them down.
"It's not a school sanctioned club. It was my understanding that a little over a decade ago it was started by a group of kids that had the blessing of the administration. I think some general guidelines were put into place as to behavior and those type of things but it is not a school sanctioned club," said Warner on Wednesday.
Because high school football in Massillon has had such a storied history Warner says he knows his school, its team and their fans have become high profile and as a result he says his expectations of the students, and especially of the “Village Idiots” is also high.
"It is a part of the tradition here at Washington high school, but with that there is a behavior expectation that all of our students are under whether it be in school or at an extracurricular activity," said Warner.
Ellen Copeland says her grandson was a “Village Idiot” when he attended Massillon Washington High School.
She believes the students should be given another chance.
"They were children and these are kids and if they think they can get away with something they are going to give it a try," said Copeland.
Some students at the high school also feel they should be held accountable, but not completely shut down.
"They're good kids," said Diann Wise adding, "The Village Idiots just get out of hand sometimes and they are just the idiots of the school, they do stupid stuff and they messed up."
School administrators planned to meet with the members of the “Village Idiots” after school on Wednesday to spell out their expectations and to listen to what they had to say. Fox 8 cameras were not permitted in the meeting.
Their principal would not commit to any plan that might give them another chance.
"I love the enthusiasm and I love these kids," said Warner, concluding, “These kids know how I feel about them, you go to an athletic event to support your school and that’s a big push from my office is to support our students and I don’t want any of our students to do anything that is embarrassing to our school, to our community and to our families."