Niagara Gazette

Local News

January 31, 2013

Roy-Hart coach suspended over bullying incident

ROYALTON- HARTLAND: Girls basketball coach Don Baker suspended following investigation of Jan. 18 incident.

MIDDLEPORT —

A veteran Royalton-Hartland High School girls basketball coach has been suspended and several players have been suspended following a reported bullying incident.

Roy-Hart School Superintendent Kevin MacDonald emphasized on Thursday that the Jan. 18 incident, termed “extremely sensitive,” was one that could not be ignored by Roy-Hart administrators. Confirmed was the suspension of Don Baker as varsity girls basketball coach and the suspension of “some” players on the team for an unspecified amount of time. MacDonald declined further details due to the sensitivity of the incident and the age of those involved.

“There was an incident that did occur with the girls basketball team that's been hard on the district and on everyone involved,” MacDonald said.

Sources told the Lockport Union Sun & Journal the matter involves a locker room incident in which some sort of attack was waged on a teammate who has learning disabilities. Neither MacDonald, nor any district officials would confirm that report.

The incident happened when the Roy-Hart Lady Rams played a girls basketball game at Barker High School on Jan. 18. It was also reportedly recorded on a cell phone.

When Roy-Hart administrators and district attorneys caught wind of the alleged attack, they took immediate action, MacDonald said. Baker's failure to report the incident resulted in his dismissal, MacDonald said.

The incident came to light when a teammate who witnessed the event discussed it with her coach and school board president Patricia Reigle, who reported it to MacDonald the night it happened. When Baker, a popular district coach for 30 years, did not report the incident the following week to his superiors, as required by law, he was suspended, Reigle said.

“I'm a mandated reporter as an administrator. If someone came up to me and reported that someone got raped in a bathroom, by law I have to tell someone,” she said. “It happened on a Friday night, Monday was Martin Luther King Day, a holiday, and Tuesday, when it wasn't reported to the superintendent, he acted. People have to understand that it can't be ignored. It's the law.”

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