TOWNSHIP, Ohio – With a lawyer by his side, the father of a McKinley High School junior shared his anger after telling News 5 that his son, who is a member of the Israel Hebrew religion, was forced to eat pizza pepperoni in front of his whole team.
This faith prohibits the consumption of pork or pork residue.
“The coach had a pork pizza as a punishment for this kid who did not show up for training,” said lawyer Edward Gilbert. “What’s interesting is that everyone on the team knows this kid isn’t going to eat pork.”
Gilbert explained how the teenager missed a workout due to an injury on May 20, and upon his return on May 24, coaches forced him to sit in the middle of the gym and consume a pepperoni pizza. full in front of the team, otherwise his teammates would be forced to do extra drills and the player’s status in the team was called into question.
“To say the coach showed bad judgment would be an understatement,” said Gilbert. “It was humiliating for this child.”
The player’s father said his family had not eaten pork since 2013 as part of their religious faith.
“I felt very upset, I felt disrespectful,” he said. “Makes you wonder if they are doing their job or if they are able to do their job. Obviously, I feel the culture is broken.
News 5 contacted a spokesperson for the Canton City School District, who confirmed that the team’s head coach, along with seven assistants, had been placed on paid administrative leave.
Gilbert explained that discussions with the school and the superintendent are not going the way they would like, which means they are considering filing a complaint.
“This is a First Amendment issue and yes there will most likely be a trial,” he said. “The coach was inappropriate in the way he handled this. It was a stupid act.
A Canton City School District Facebook post on Friday explained:
“The incident calls into question the establishment of appropriate infrastructure for team management, discipline and player accountability. The district is on the verge of completing its investigation into this incident. Once the conclusion is reached, in accordance with to our commitment to transparency, the district will provide additional information. “