AP and math assignment resumes; coaching remains suspended
Head varsity football coach, AP Stats and IMP 4 teacher Richard Schimke returned to the classroom November 3. According to recent information, he is released to return strictly to teaching, restricted from coaching until further notice.
District higher-ups enforced the paid absence of Schimke from teaching and coaching assignments on October 23 due to an incident involving a player and a bottle of syrup.
- The incident and its aftermath have raised questions about teacher-student interactions and whether the district will respond with a heavy hand. Parents have been protesting this week about it along Niblick Road.
According to eyewitness accounts backed by video, Schimke poured syrup into a player’s belly button during a postgame locker room celebration that took place October 14. The event soon after exploded on social media, as well as local news outlets such as the SLO Tribune. Outrage from both ends of the spectrum emerged within these outlets, triggering community wide response, and the debate of Schimke’s innocence.
The parent of the player involved police and triggered the district to place Schimke on leave.
“Winning football games at the expense of the mental and moral well being of our children is not only not worth it, but a grave injustice to them,” said the parent on Facebook. “They deserve to have the best examples of honor, integrity, and courage.”
The police department, San Luis Obispo District Attorney, and the Paso Robles Joint Unified School District were all notified of the incident from the parent of the player on October 19. PRPD have determined that no crime was committed.
But the ethics of Schimke’s locker room behavior will continue to be investigated by district leaders.
“We are continuing to consider the contents of the video as well as other available information as part of our administrative investigation and internal review.,” reads a statement from
Superintendent Chris Williams shared with the media November 1. “Our district takes concerns and allegations against a member of our staff seriously, and is committed to ensuring that a full and fair investigation is conducted. We hold all staff to a high standard of conduct and our district is dedicated to providing an educational environment where students are treated with respect and dignity and are provided with opportunities for success.”
Video footage was posted of the incident on the SLO Tribune’s online page November 2.
In the video, Schimke is seen pouring syrup onto a player’s stomach, who is spread on the floor with his back to the ground. The incident took place in a locker room with other cheering teammates gathered around the player, celebrating their recent win. Schimke is seen leaning over the player and dipping his head toward the player’s abdomen to lick the syrup from his navel. It is not clear in the video if Schimke actually made contact with the player.
Schimke’s attorney Bob Bartosh stated Schimke merely pretended to make contact.
Schimke’s players, their parents and the AP statistics students he teaches say that the incident has been vetted and blown out of proportion. PRHS Football parents in particular have taken up a call to action, most clearly spelled out in the Bearcat Varsity Football Parents 2016 Facebook page, with posts and comments accompanied by the hashtag #istandwithschimke, which goes beyond Facebook into Twitter and Instagram. Outcry from parents loyal to Schimke has assailed the page since October 29, six days after Schimke was placed on leave. Posts reflect the opinions of Schimke’s players, parents, and AP statistics students that justice has not been truthfully served, as well as voiced concerns regarding the absence of their teacher in light of upcoming AP tests in the spring.
“Unless Coach Schimke is reinstated before our game against our biggest rival this Friday night, every clear thinking person should vote no on measure M.” reads a post by football mom Debbie Lou Horne, posted on October 31.
For their part, teachers are concerned that the significant achievements of Schimke’s teaching and coaching are not understood or supported by new administration, according to several who spoke at a meeting November 3.
Assistant coach and English teacher Matt Carroll, the team’s defensive coordinator, continues to serve as interim head coach during the season’s biggest game against cross town rival Atascadero HS.
Crimson’s urge to unite as a community during this time of controversy
Paso Robles High School has been rocked, once again, with allegations of teacher misconduct. However, unlike previous incidents where criminal charges were brought against a teacher, this case was dismissed by the police department. Despite the police findings, school administrative actions continue against the coach, and have resulted in a significant show of support by the community for Schimke. A recap of the event goes like this: The PRHS Bearcats boys locker room was filled with euphoria after a huge 58-14 win against the SLO Tigers. Head coach Richard Schimke, surrounded by the cheering team and assistant coaches, poured maple syrup onto the belly a player and either pretended to, or actually did, touch the syrup with his tongue.
Schimke’s attorney, Bob Bartosh, claims that Schimke never put his tongue on the player, and merely pretended to. However, the mother of the athlete says that Schimke dipped his tongue into her son’s belly button.
The police department have concluded that no criminal action occurred and while the students of Crimson are in support of PRJUSD’s determination to protect a student, we are not in support of dragging a loved coach, teacher, and family man through a prolonged investigation.
It brings tears to my eyes to see this beloved community brought to its knees once again. There are too many versions of the event details being spread and it is causing too much divisiveness in a community that should respect the decision of the police. We need to unify with a coach who made a poor decision while trying to uphold team camaraderie. If the police department, the students, the coaches, and most importantly- the student involved- all agree that this was not a criminal, moral, or educator issue, then we need to let it rest and let Schimke continue to teach in his classroom, coach his boys, and move forward.
We need to be engaged in the growth and education of students, staff, and athletes on how behavior decisions are often interpreted differently than intended, and sometimes choices made without ill intention are just as detrimental as those that are unwise.
“Ensuring that a full and fair investigation is conducted,” is the goal as written by Superintendent Chris Williams in a letter addressed to the media on November 1.
We are Bearcat Country and we stand with Schimke. WE also stand with our community and want everyone to learn from this, but it was nothing more than a poor choice and it is time to move forward and let Schimke coach.