By Haylee Pence
Editor’s note: Additional information on concerning the Miami East Local School District Board of Education meeting was included in this updated version of the story.
CASSTOWN — Community members, parents, students, and faculty attended the Miami East Board of Education meeting to discuss several topics.
One of the topics of discussion came forth when a couple parents addressed the board about issues they have with Miami East boys high school basketball coach Justin Roeth.
One parent, Holli Enis, said to board members, “It’s not just two boys, but 16 boys and an on-going issue for two years now. In a community, I think you should be looking out for these boys, but instead you’re turning a blind eye.”
“He’s manipulating and playing mind-games with these young boys.” said another parent, Jessica Clark. “We’ve got 16 kids that have had issues with him.”
Another parent, Lisa Bigelow, said some parents are beginning to record via video Roeth’s interactions with students. “It’s harassment and stalking,” said Bigelow of the treatment of the coach. She went on to say how several other parents have begun approaching her and her family over support of Roeth. “What I witnessed and encountered after the boys’ game at Riverside was truly an embarrassment and disgrace to the Miami East community. I was merely supporting our head basketball coach, which isn’t a crime.”
A faculty member, Tiffany Sampson, spoke to the board in support of Roeth stating, “He’s a hard worker and dedicated to the students.” According to Sampson, Roeth has allowed some of the players to practice in the gym outside of practice time.
“I do know that he puts a lot of time and effort into the program and the kids. I know how deeply he cares,” she continued.
Both sides encouraged the board to do something; according to Enis, her emails went unanswered.
At the end of the meeting during the board comments portion, the board responded to statements made. Each board member spoke about their support to the parents and the community members, thanking them for their concerns and presence. Several members, including Amanda Howell, informed the parents they have reviewed and are addressing the concerns that were sent in emails.
Board President Mark Iiames responded to the concerns of Roeth’s coaching. He said, “The board is in support of the administration at Miami East and are in support of the coaches at Miami East. There’s a feeling that we haven’t looked at some of the events, but we have. Justin Roeth is the basketball coach this year at Miami East, and will likely be receiving my vote again next year when it’s brought to me. We can keep having these debates over and over again, but we have professionals here that work inside the school district that help in the selection process of these coaches and they’re doing their best to choose the best things for our students. I support them and we will be continuing to do so.”
Board member Amanda Howell commented, “I know sometimes the process is slow and it feels like nothing is getting done, but we are here to work for the good of the kids.”
“It’s not falling on deaf ears. If you have something you want looked into, I will absolutely do it. I won’t turn anybody away,” said Mark Lawson, board member.
“We have to do the proper fact finding,” commented Pam Rice, board member. “I take this position very seriously. When people reach out to me, I don’t forward emails. I don’t talk to my children about it.”
Vice President of the Board John Demmitt stated, “We have to keep students in the middle and that’s where the focus is going to be. We can have disagreements on things. We can dispute on whether somebody deserves play time, whether a coach does this, whether a teacher’s assignments are stupid … . Ultimately, we have to have a focus on students. At the end of the day, we have to walk out and be a community. We look at policy. We don’t look at play time.”