Ringgold hears support for baseball coach who resigned over players’ alleged misbehavior in Florida

April 19, 2017
Monongahela resident Keith Feld complains Wednesday to Ringgold School Board about the handling of alleged misbehavior during a high school baseball team trip to Florida last month. - Scott Beveridge/Observer-Reporter Order a Print

NEW EAGLE – Several parents lined up at a Ringgold School Board meeting Wednesday to support a former high school baseball coach who resigned over alleged player misbehavior last month during a trip to Florida, while another expressed anger the district failed to protect the children.

Parent Keith Feld of Monongahela said the alleged events, including hazing and alcohol and tobacco use, during the trip with then-head coach Jim Coulter were captured on video.

“You guys are charged with protecting our students,” Feld said. “It’s a shame that the only ones who are being punished told the truth.”

Coulter resigned in light of allegations that were made about player misbehavior during the booster-sponsored March 22-28 trip to ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando. He did not attend the board meeting Wednesday and denied any wrongdoing.

Another parent, Gail Hotz of Donora, questioned the board about whether there were enough chaperones on the trip. She said she supported Coulter.

“He was there for my son a lot,” Hotz said.

“There is plenty of blame to go around,” district Superintendent Karen Polkabla said at the meeting in the district’s administration building in New Eagle. “We can all share the blame for what happened.”

District solicitor Tim Berrgren declined to confirm whether the investigation into the trip had been concluded.

The board formally accepted Coulter’s resignation, effective March 30. It also ratified the discipline of four unnamed students without disclosing their punishment.

In other business, Polkabla announced she will retire at the end of the 2017-18 school term. Her work in the district was praised by board President William Stein Jr.

“She created one Ringgold family,” Stein said.

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley. He has a bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master's from Duquesne University. Scott spent three weeks in Vietnam in 2004 as a foreign correspondent under an International Center for Journalists fellowship.

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