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Former McKinley coaches fired from full-time district employment

Canton City Schools fire three former McKinley assistant football coaches from district employment after misconduct investigation

The move comes three weeks after Marcus Wattley and six assistant coaches were fired for making a player eat pork in violation of his religious beliefs.

CANTON, Ohio — Editor’s Note: The above video is from a previously published, unrelated story

There is more fallout from the investigation of the Canton McKinley football team involving misconduct by the coaching staff towards a player. 

On Thursday night, Canton City Schools unanimously fired three former assistant football coaches from their noncoaching positions in the district, while electing to continue the suspension of former head coach Marcus Wattley pending a termination review.

The staff members that were let go were Frank McLeod, Josh Grimsley and Zachary Sweat. 

The decision by the district came three weeks after Wattley and six of his assistants were removed from their coaching positions. They were originally placed on administrative leave following an accusation that they forced a student to eat pepperoni pizza after he showed up late to a non-mandatory practice on May 24. According to the district, the coaches knew the teen was a member of the Hebrew Israelite faith, and that consuming pork was in violation of his religion’s practices.

A district investigation found the charges against the coaches to be true, and Superintendent Jeff Talbert called their actions “inappropriate, demeaning, and divisive.” He later called the special board meeting that resulted in the group of coaches losing their jobs.

“The family is confident that the district reviewed all the facts and did the right thing, and stand by their belief that those teachers have no business teaching students,” said Ed Gilbert, attorney for the student and his family in a statement to 3News on Thursday.

Following the termination on June 3, the coaches hired their own attorney in an effort to regain their jobs. They contended the student was given an option of eating chicken nuggets. It’s a claim the player’s attorney disputes.

Last week, Gilbert released video that he says contradicts claims that the student was not forced to consume a pepperoni pizza in violation of his religious beliefs.

“The false claim that the child had an option of eating either the pizza or “chicken McNuggets” is simply untrue. You will see no chicken McNuggets in this video. Further, you will see that the child was the subject of taunting by several teammates. One of which attempted to physically assault the child and had to be held back several times,” Gilbert said. 

You can watch the entire video in the player below:

Peter Pattakos, the attorney representing Marcus Wattley, disagreed with Gilbert’s versions of events, and said Gilbert is misinterpreting the video. 

Pattakos issued a statement to 3News that read in part, “Now that the truth has come out, Gilbert is apparently desperate, and sadly unable to admit his mistake, so he has now decided to release the silent video and compound his lies about it, which continue to be unsupported by a single witness.”

Pattakos has continually said that Wattley and his staff did not force the student to eat pork against his religion.

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