Rootstown school board meeting heated after head football coach resigns

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ROOTSTOWN, Ohio (WJW) — Race and high school football came to a head at an explosive school board meeting in one local community.

Emotions ran high at a Rootstown special school board meeting Monday night. The meeting was held to accept the resignation of head football coach, Troy Spiker.

Spiker resigned last Wednesday after Superintendent Andrew Hawkins admittedly reversed Spiker’s suspension of a football player accused of using racial slurs against a teammate.

“Instances have happened, they were reported, and they were handled correctly. And then they were reversed incorrectly,” said parent Sparky Birkett.

Birkett says his son, a junior on the football team, was on the receiving end of those alleged racial slurs by another player.

“Look, the school board should have brought Spiker back. We stand with Spiker,” said Birkett.

But this was about much more than getting back a beloved coach or the football team. This was about a community demanding change and accountability.

Countless residents stood up and voiced their concerns about what they say is the district’s lack of action on issues of racial injustice and other forms of discrimination.

They also called for the resignation of any school board members who were involved in the superintendent’s decision to reverse Spiker’s punishment for the player who allegedly used racial slurs.

In the end, the school board voted to accept Spiker’s resignation.

However, they also voted to open a third party investigation into the superintendent’s, high school principal’s, and athletic director’s involvement in the reversal of that player’s suspension.

“No community is perfect, no person is perfect, but this community, we have to make changes,” said Birkett.

The school board also voted to name Bob Treharn, middle school football coach, as head football coach.

No word on when that internal investigation will begin.

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