GARY — An elementary basketball coach who allegedly paddled his players for missing free throws has been replaced, and the School Board may consider changing its policy and ban corporal punishment.
Parents said the reported coach-administered paddlings were so severe that at least three Melton Elementary School students sought medical treatment.
The unidentified basketball coach, apparently angry about a game the team lost on Tuesday, told his players he would swat them every time they missed a shot at practice Wednesday, parents reported.
Three boys, Joshua Perry, 13, Eric Brown, 13, and James Blue, 12, ended up at The Methodist Hospitals with bruises and welts from the paddling. They told their parents they were hit 10 or more times with a paddle the coach brought with him to practice.
“When the doctor saw my son, he said it was unbelievable,” Lisa Perry said Monday.
Citywide Athletic Director Earl Smith has temporarily taken over as coach.
The dismissed coach, known to parents and players as “Coach T,” told his players he used the same paddling technique last year, and his team won every game, Perry said.
The Gary school district is one of a handful in the state that still allows paddling as a punishment. Most school districts banned corporal punishment in the early 1990s. No districts allow it in Porter County.
Chelsea Stalling, spokeswoman for school administration, said Monday the recent events may prompt the School Board to revisit the policy.
Cassandra Brown said her son was hit 15 times — one for every missed shot.
“My son told me he quit counting,” Perry said, adding that Joshua knew he’d been hit at least 10 times.
School officials have not released the coach’s name, but Gary police Detective, Cpl. Lionel Hampton is investigating the three battery reports. Hampton is also employed as a school security officer.
Perry said the team had suffered a humiliating loss the day before.
“They were already broken down, and then they were attacked by a lion. They are just kittens and he is a lion,” Perry said of the coach.
Perry said when she went to the school Thursday morning, the principal was talking to the players. Practice was suspended for the rest of the week while school officials sorted out the events.
The coach is believed to be a community member who is paid a stipend of about $600 to coach the team.
Stalling said such non-teacher coaches do undergo background checks by the district security department. The coaches report to the building principal and to Smith.
Reporter Carole Carlson contributed to this report.
Reporter Lori Caldwell can be reached at 881-3119 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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