3 fired Canton McKinley assistant coaches now lost school day jobs, former head football coach suspended without pay

Published: Jun. 24, 2021 at 10:42 PM EDT
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CANTON, Ohio (WOIO) - During a special meeting of the Canton City School Board on Thursday evening, the board voted unanimously to terminate the day jobs of three former assistant football coaches for Canton McKinley High School. They also voted unanimously to suspend former head football coach Marcus Wattley without pay from his main job with the district.

Wattley is the district’s academic and athletic liaison, former assistant football coach Frank McLeod was fired from his job as a safety and security liaison, Joshua Grimsley was fired as a school resource assistant and Zachary Sweat lost his job as a bus assistant.

The group is among seven coaches who lost their coaching positions on June 3 when the school board decided not to renew their contracts.

Canton City Schools Superintendent Jeffrey Talbert said, “The incident on May 24th involving the football team used a demeaning, divisive, and misguided approach of discipline on our players. It was concluded following a review of the video of the incident and conducting interviews that the coaches conducted themselves in a manner that is not consistent with our values as a school district. We have a commitment to protecting the safety and security of our students both physically and mentally.”

The school district said it all relates back to an incident during football practice in the auxiliary gym on May 24 that was caught on the school’s cameras. That’s when a 17-year-old student-athlete says he was forced to sit in the middle of the gym and eat pork in the form of a pepperoni pizza against his religious beliefs. The football player is Hebrew Israelite.

Accusations the coaches and their attorneys vehemently deny.

Attorney Chuck Kozelka with the Pattakos Law Firm says the ex-coaches fight to get their jobs back is not over, “Here’s the reality – after that meeting, he (the football player) hugged those coaches and said thank you for getting me right. He was the first kid at practice the next day. He was a kid teetering. Unlike calling cops or giving up on kids, Coach Wattley and his staff – it just wasn’t in their DNA.”

Attorney Kozelka says the district’s decision not to renew the coachs’ contracts and then to fire and suspend four of them from their day jobs with the district was already decided, “We plan on suing for defamation or something in that ballpark if necessary.”

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