Cascade track coaches relieved of coaching duties; will continue teaching

Published: .
Updated: .

Four Hendricks County high school track coaches, suspended for punishing students during a practice, will not be fired.

Nicholas Puckett, Josh Hagonow, Rosie Fakes and Sean Adams will continue to teach at Cascade High School, but they will no longer coach.

The school board met Monday night to discuss the case and released a statement Tuesday.

The Mill Creek Community School Corporation says it's completed the investigation.

"After gathering and investigating facts surrounding the incident that occurred, it has been determined that there was no intent to cause harm to students. The teachers have admitted the poor judgment in their decisions on May 1, and have since recognized and taken ownership of their actions," the school district said.

Regarding the decision to allow them to continue to teach, the district said, "There was no evidence from the facts gathered or from the teachers' classroom history that the extra-cirricular incident that occurred would carry over to the classroom."

The district went on to say, "the coaches accept the consequences of their actions including being relieved of their coaching positions and the public scrutiny that has followed. They also acknowledge that the corporation does not condone reprimands or punishments that result or may result in physical injury as part of our extracurricular programs."

Some members of the Cascade High School track team missed a practice last week, so their coaches made them do what are called "bear crawls," and some wound up with bruises and blisters on their hands.

Some parents complained. Harvey Pedro said the images of the injuries to team members' hands hit him pretty hard when he saw them, since his granddaughter runs on the junior varsity track team.

"I was pretty concerned, pretty upset, that that type of punishment could happen. It's okay to discipline," he said.

But he says the discipline handed down by the four coaches went too far.

The Department of Child Services is also investigating.

Eyewitness News caught up with Puckett, who said they didn't mean to hurt anyone.

"I understand that, the kids know, the parents know, all the facts will come out and until then I am just not going to make a comment," he said.

Some students past and present have come to the support of the coaches, calling the bear crawls "reasonable" punishment.

But the team canceled Friday's scheduled competition, and substitute coaches worked with the coed team Monday.

Carla Henderson, a Cascade graduate who has a child that attends the school, suspects there is more to the incident.

"Some of it, I'm a little skeptical on, because one of the coaches I had when I was in school and this is not her character," she said.

The board met in executive session Monday, which is an informal meeting where no official decisions are made. Henderson says she is pleased the school board was taking time to review all the facts before making any judgment on the coaches.

"I think they just need to take a closer look and investigate the whole situation and go from there," she said. "The kids are really supportive of the coaches and stuff like that. You know, all of this is really about the kids and they really need to stop and look at the kids' point of view."

Several members of the team have met in support of the coaches and have tried to schedule meetings with school officials to get them to change their minds. The board has a regular meeting, which is open to the public, scheduled for Wednesday evening.

"Something should be done and hopefully the board will make a good decision," Pedro said.