High School Sports

Aledo coach cleared of bullying allegations

Aledo school district officials have cleared coach Tim Buchanan of bullying allegations after the Bearcats’ 91-0 drubbing of Fort Worth Western Hills last week.

“They found no evidence of bullying,” Buchanan said in a text message Wednesday afternoon.

Aledo, 7-0 and the state’s top-ranked Class 4A football team, has dominated its opponents, averaging 69.3 points per game while giving up 6.7.

In District 7-4A play, the Bearcats have won their first four games by an average of 77 points.

The latest victory became a point of national interest when a Western Hills parent filed a formal bullying complaint against Buchanan.

The question most asked among sports pundits: Does such a lopsided victory constitute bullying?

Buchanan, who has led the Bearcats to four state championships, appeared on ESPN’s SportsCenter on Tuesday night, and the story has also been picked up by CBS This Morning, NBC’s Today, Fox News and Sports Illustrated.

Under state law, school districts must make bullying complaint forms available on their websites. Buchanan received notice Saturday morning that a Western Hills parent had filled one out. An internal investigation followed.

“What they said was that I should’ve told my players to ease up and not play so hard,” Buchanan said of the allegation.

Western Hills coach John Naylor disagreed with the bullying allegations and said Aledo handled the situation “fine.”

Aledo’s first-team offense had 21 snaps against Western Hills. A running clock was implemented in the third quarter. The Bearcats’ quarterbacks combined for 10 passes.

“We just ran into a buzz saw, you know,” Naylor said. Aledo “just plays hard. And they’re good sports, and they don’t talk at all. They get after it, and that’s the way football is supposed to be played in Texas.”

Aledo Superintendent Derek Citty and Aledo High School Principal Dan Peterson could not be reached for comment.

A copy of the complaint quoted a parent, whose name was redacted by the Aledo school district, who said: “We all witnessed bullying firsthand.”

“Picking up my son from the fieldhouse after the game and taking him home was tough,” the complaint read. “I did not know what to say to my son on the ride home to explain the behavior of the aledo coaches for not easing up when the game was in hand.”

One section of the complaint asks to list the names of any witnesses to the bullying. The parent wrote: “Everyone in the football stadium.”

The parent put no blame on Aledo players and instead praised them for good sportsmanship and wished them luck.

Football as a method of bullying is not addressed by the Texas Education Code, which defines bullying as “engaging in written or verbal expression, expression through electronic means, or physical conduct that occurs on school property, at a school-sponsored or school-related activity … and that has the effect or will have the effect of physically harming a student … or is sufficiently severe, persistent, and pervasive enough that the action or threat creates an intimidating, threatening, or abusive educational environment for a student.”

Legislation was passed in 2011 to combat bullying and cyberbullying in Texas schools.

This report includes material from The Associated Press.

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