Scott City coach suspended after alcohol incident with teenager

Friday, April 11, 2003

A Scott City high school softball coach has been suspended by the school board for her involvement in a post-prom drinking party last week.

The district handed down a two-week suspension from extracurricular activities to 25 athletes Tuesday after they confessed to drinking at a party hosted Saturday by parent of a senior student and coach Sally O'Brien.

At a special board meeting Wednesday night, O'Brien was suspended from her coaching duties, but not her position as elementary physical education teacher, for the remainder of the school year.

According to Scott City superintendent Diann Bradshaw, O'Brien will continue to receive pay on a pro-rated basis for time she has already spent coaching. Bradshaw declined to comment on why O'Brien was suspended from coaching, but not teaching.

Messages left by the Southeast Missourian at O'Brien's home Thursday evening were not returned.

The district became aware of the situation after students told a coach there was alcohol at the party, Bradshaw said. The two-week suspension of students is in accordance with policy set forth in the student athlete handbook, which all athletes and their parents sign at the beginning of the year.

"While the students made a mistake, I think they showed character in admitting what they did, and that should be acknowledged," Bradshaw said. "I think it's something that just got out of hand."

Several parents have spoken against the district's disciplinary action against the athletes, which forced the Scott City baseball team to forfeit five games after 11 players were suspended, leaving the team short-handed.

"My question is, why this year? Everyone knows there's a homecoming party and a prom party," said Penny Ressel, whose daughter, Megan, was suspended from the softball team. "Everyone has closed their eyes and ears to this in the past, why are they being so strict this year?"

Ressel was host for a similar party three years ago when her son was a junior at Scott City, and said this type of activity is much safer than having students drinking and driving or renting a hotel room.

"This was their prom," Ressel said. "They were going to have a good time in a controlled environment, and it's been blown way out of proportion."

cclark@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 128

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