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Spotsy schools probe allegations against football coach
Spotsylvania school officials investigate allegation against volunteer coach

Date published: 10/18/2012

By PAMELA GOULD

Spotsylvania County authorities are investigating allegations that a volunteer assistant football coach at Ni River Middle School kicked a seventh-grader during practice on Tuesday.

Stephanie Smith said her 12-year-old son, Devon, was on the sidelines of the football field when a volunteer assistant coach kicked him into the air with no provocation.

She said he blacked out after he dropped to the ground, and when he regained consciousness he couldn't initially see clearly.

She said no one sought medical care for her son or notified her of the incident.

She learned about it from her son when she picked him up from practice Tuesday evening.

She said she could tell something was wrong. The family immediately took the boy to a hospital emergency room.

She described Devon as a straight-A student who is 5 feet, 4 inches tall and weighs 90 pounds.

He underwent tests and was released with a diagnosis of "obtuse chest wall contusion all of the way around," Smith said.

He stayed home from school Wednesday taking narcotic pain medication, his mother said.

October is national anti-bullying month, and top school officials were at Spotsylvania Towne Centre to sign an anti-bullying pledge when contacted by the newspaper about the incident.

School Board member Dawn Shelley, in whose district the school is located, said she's disturbed by the allegations.

"If that is actually what happened, it's unacceptable. It's appalling," Shelley said.

Schools spokeswoman Rene Daniels said the school division's executive director of instruction, Stan Jones, and Ni River Middle School Principal Veronne Davis were looking into the incident. The school cancelled football practice Wednesday.

They confirmed that the investigation revolved around a volunteer assistant coach who is in his first year helping with the football team.

The team has two paid coaches and one volunteer, school staff said.

Although the man is not a school division employee, Daniels said he should have undergone the same screening as substitute teachers, which includes a criminal history check.

The Spotsylvania sheriff's deputy assigned to the school was investigating the allegations on Wednesday.

Smith said she was shocked by what she understands happened to her child.

"When I drop my kids off at school, I shouldn't have to worry about them getting drop-kicked by a student, and certainly not by a staff member," she said.

Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972
Email: pgould@freelancestar.com