Despite what was a terrible situation, it was good to see the administration at the Cuba schools take swift action to correct a bullying/hazing situation involving the CHS football team last week. Far too often, our public officials are quick to take credit for something, but slow to take blame and fix a problem.
Cuba Superintendent Jon Earnhart sent a letter home to parents last week to make them aware of the situation. In the letter, he explained that the district had become aware of “some very concerning incidents that have allegedly taken place within our football program. It has been reported that these allegations are not isolated to this season, and that incidents have taken place for multiple seasons. Once notified of the concerns, the administration began an investigation into the entire scope of the football program.”
Head Coach Jake Montalbano was placed on administrative and later resigned. Although it remains unclear what he knew and when he knew it, the fact that he was willing to step aside from his coaching duties should not go unnoticed. Ultimately, Montalbano was responsible for what was happening within his program and his resignation confirmed that.
Decades ago, hazing and bullying incidents (especially on a high school sports team) often went unpunished, ignored, and unnoticed. Those were just things that went on—boys being boys, something that was expected.
Times change, however, and no longer accepting such action is indeed a change for the better. We must all expect better behavior from our children, our students, our teachers, our administrators, and our coaches.
“I can assure you that at all times, our school district’s first and most important mission is to provide a positive environment that is safe and secure for all students,” Earnhart told praents in his letter. “Our school district has and will continue to act in accordance with our policies to address this matter and provide the safe environment that our community expects.
“Finally, we expect all students and staff members to conduct themselves in accordance with our high standards at all times, including the expectation that our student athletes conduct themselves at all times as good citizens. We applaud the students who came forward and reported their concerns to a trusted adult. We also ask that you speak with your child this evening and reinforce our school’s expectations. Should you or your child have any concerns, please bring them directly to your building principal. It is only through effective communication that we can address issues.”
Leadership, good leadership, is never easy. It’s hard, and good leaders are willing to make hard decisions and take responsibility for their actions along the way.
The actions taken by Earnhart and the rest of the staff at the Cuba schools last week should be commended. Our students deserve a safe, positive environment in the classroom, on the field, and in the locker room.
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