Principal David Johnson admitted last week that he never investigated the football practice where Max Gilpin collapsed from heat stroke - despite telling one community member that he had conducted a "thorough investigation."
Why Johnson changed his story is not clear. Worse, however, was his decision not to investigate the death of a student on his watch.
Calling it "hate mail," Johnson repeatedly refused to respond to input that questioned the school's handling of events.
This from Toni Konz at C-J:
The principal at Pleasure Ridge Park High School said he deleted e-mails complaining about coaches’ actions at the football practice where sophomore Max Gilpin collapsed, dismissing them as “hate mail,” according to his sworn deposition.
But principal David Johnson testified last week that he never investigated the Aug. 20 practice where Max collapsed from heat stroke, even though Johnson told one community member by e-mail on Aug. 25 that he had conducted a "thorough investigation." ...
Johnson testified that his only conversation with head football coach Jason Stinson about the practice was a brief conversation at the hospital Aug. 22, in which Stinson "went over the practice, (and) there were water breaks put in there. So I entrusted that he told me the truth."
That conversation, and his high opinion of Stinson’s character, convinced Johnson that the e-mails accusing coaches at the practice of denying players water and running them until someone quit the team, along with published media reports, “were inaccurate or taken out of context,” Johnson said.
"Mr. Stinson is an individual that I hold in the highest accord, and I trust that he would act accordingly and professionally and follow protocol," Johnson said in his four-hour deposition, which was taken Wednesday.
But just last week, in the lawsuit filed by Gilpin's parents, Stinson walked out of a deposition after asserting his right not to incriminate himself. He is charged with reckless homicide for causing Gilpin's death.Johnson never directed anyone at PRP to investigate what happened on Aug. 20, but said he expected an investigation would occur. PRP Athletic Director Craig Webb and JCPS Athletic Director Jerry Wyman testified that they did not investigate because they were not qualified to handle such an inquiry.
Then there are the emails.
Beverly Imus, a PRP resident, sent Johnson an e-mail on Aug. 23 asking him to do a "complete investigation" of the practice and suggested that "this coach should be asked to step down."
Johnson replied to Imus on Aug. 25: "I will excuse your e-mail as ignorance of the situation that took place last Wednesday. I have the utmost confidence in all of our staff and have no qualms about supporting their decisions as coaches. Our head football coach was hired based not only on his knowledge of football, but also because of his strong Christian beliefs and integrity toward his job and the treatment of all who know him."
Charming.At first, Johnson denied that he received any emails on the subject. But he changed his story later saying he had received some "hate mail" but deleted it without reading it.
To my knowledge and what I was comfortable with in what I had done just by speaking to a coach in the hospital and Mr. Webb, I thought it was a thorough investigation into what happened at the practice."The death of 15-year old PRP football player Max Gilpin is a tragedy no one wanted. That's not in question. But was sufficient care taken to assure, as far as possible, the safety of players in an already violent sport?
Witnesses accused the PRP coaches at the practice of denying players water and "running them until someone quit the team." But Johnson's so-called "investigation" left too much to be desired.
In October, Johnson's estranged wife took out an emergency protection order against him claiming Johnson hit his teenage son in the face.
It's time for Shelly Berman to step in and demonstrate that JCPS is there for the protection of kids - not adults.
More solid coverage from C-J:
School didn't probe player collapse
Gilpin's mother backs sports safety bill
PRP coach takes 5th in deposition
Supporters walk again for PRP coach
A coach's duty
Stinson known as hard-working player, coach
Doctors seek heat-stroke answers
Another vigil held for PRP coach
Hundreds attend second vigil for PRP football coach
PRP football player's father speaks out on loss
Indicted coach gets support
Charge may have 'huge' effect on coaches
PRP coach indicted in football player's death
Coaches' actions in heat death defended