Voices From The Readers
When my brother entered the dugout on April 27, just minutes before the start of the baseball game, Stephen Decatur vs. Snow Hill High, he had no idea what situation he was about to encounter. There were three games that week. He had pitched five shutout innings in two games for the Stephen Decatur High School varsity baseball team earlier in the week. During batting practice, on Thursday, a tennis ball ricocheted off a metal pole and hit him directly in his open eye, while he was wearing contacts. He spent the majority of the school day on Friday traveling to and from an eye specialist in Georgetown. The eye doctor dilated his eye for 48 hours. He had a medical excuse to not participate in that day’s game. He had a bad headache but decided to have our mother drive him so he could support the team.
My family communicated with Coach Ferro several times during the day and let him know that even though he could not participate, he was going to meet them at the game that day to support the team. Once at the game, my brother was greeted by the players and several coaches. The head coach told my mother he was glad that my brother had no permanent damage to his eye. At this time, my brother had no idea what was about to happen next. You see, my brother was wearing what he wore to see the doctor that day, a black Stephen Decatur High School baseball hoodie, a Stephen Decatur High School Baseball Hat, and a Stephen Decatur High School Baseball T-shirt. He was also wearing his sunglasses and a pair of black warm up pants.
When he entered the dugout, he was verbally blasted by Coach Magaha. He was totally shocked by the verbal rant of derogatory comments directed at him. These comments included extreme profanity about his attire and about how insignificant the coach felt the nature of his injury was. My brother said he was totally shocked and embarrassed in front of the teammates he made an extreme effort to come and support. He said some other players repeatedly asked him during the game if he was okay, and they told him how wrong that was of the coach to act this way towards him.
My brother has played for the Stephen Decatur High School baseball team for the past four years. He had an impressive E.R.A. of 0.00 during the 2012 season. He also received the principal’s Sportsmanship Award for the baseball team for the past two seasons.
My brother decided that afternoon that he had to do something about this pattern of behavior. My brother’s high school career was coming to an end, but he felt it was important to bring attention to this inappropriate behavior so it would not continue on after he graduated. My father and my brother went to the athletic director. My brother had the courage to explain the events to him that had occurred over the course of this season. It was then reported to the assistant principal where nothing was accomplished. Mr. Taylor got involved only after my parents contacted him.
Since this was not the first incident involving Coach Magaha during the season, my parents felt it was necessary to take this complaint to this level. Coach Magaha admitted he was wrong and at the end of the meeting it was determined that the coach was indeed wrong in his actions, and there would be harsh consequences for him. My family decided that since he admitted he was wrong and seemed to give a genuine apology to my brother that they would not require the administration to levy the stiff suspension penalty that was going to be enforced. They did this because it was nearing the end of the season.
My brother was hoping this was going to be a “light bulb moment” for Coach Magaha. This decision was done in good faith with the stipulation, that was agreed upon by the concerning parties, that the matter would not leave the principal’s office, and there would be no retaliation against my brother. This was not the case, as it started that very afternoon. A series of events unfolded throughout the week that could not be ignored.
So, for past and present students, athletes and their parents of Stephen Decatur High School, I can appreciate your positive experiences with these coaches and teachers. However, the incidents that occurred during recent months at Stephen Decatur High School are totally unacceptable. Mr. Taylor knows that the incidents brought up at the meeting had nothing to do with playing time. That is why he found it necessary to offer the original consequences for the coaches' actions. What compounded the issue was that he did not follow through with the agreement made in his office.
I am proud of my brother for having the courage to bring these incidents to light. The world would be a better place if there were more young men like my brother who have the courage to stand up to authority when they are wrong.Candace L. DiBuo
School Gets Support
I am an alumnus of Stephen Decatur and an aunt to prior/current students at the high school. I know Rich Ferro and Garrett Magaha to be men of integrity and admirable character who have a strong passion for teaching and coaching.
I have attended many practices and games over the past eight years and have never witnessed any of the behavior alleged in the “ad” that was so irresponsibly printed by your paper.
These men care about the students in their classroom and the boys on their team and neither deserves to be the target of such an inflammatory controversy. I fully support Rich Ferro and Garrett Magaha as well as Principal Lou Taylor.Jane Vickers
In regards to Steve Green’s letter to readers regarding the bullying ad, I have to say I'm not impressed.
I'm glad you are feeling the same way as the coaches felt when you published an ad that possibly destroyed their careers. I don't feel sorry for you that someone said bad things to you in a supermarket, maybe you should take out your own ad and name that person and call them a bully. As far as you saying you investigated the DiBuo's charges, I'm sure they were names provided by them so that seems a little unfair.
I was hoping for a better explanation from you, even an apology. What you've proven is that you are a man with no spine running a crappy paper. I will encourage people to boycott your paper.Julie Jones
It has been said that bullies thrive on attention. If we leave Mr. DiBuo alone and stop giving him the attention he is seeking, the bully will go away.
There is already a program in place at Stephen Decatur High School for bullying. We should not be dividing ourselves with special interest groups and anger, rather working towards the same solution. What makes Mr. DiBuo an expert on bullying solutions? Our children and community deserve better than this.Amy Williams
Leave Educators Alone
First, let me thank Editor Steve Green for his commitment to uphold our First Amendment rights. You made the ethical and moral choice to be impartial and fair to all points of view. You should not have been crucified for that determination.
As a veteran retired teacher and educational consultant, I question Mr. DiBuo's motivation. It appears to me that the entire incident has been a ploy to perhaps end in material gain. Teachers participate in State Education Associations (unions). We have huge insurance policies with coverage against civil suits. School administrators also are protected by insurance. Sometimes settlements occur without the cost of court. It is cheaper for insurance companies to just "settle the claim."
I feel a lot of empathy for the coaches and Principal Taylor. Being accused of such a horrible act is a total nightmare for these fine folks. My heart goes out to them and their families.
Citizens are very aware of bullying. Educators and school districts have zero tolerance for bullying. Mr. DiBuo is now president and founder of Parents Against Bullying of Worcester County. I am curious as to his academic credentials. What qualifies him to "provide guidance and support for students and parents"? How can his program "help educate the public and schools regarding the mental and physical damage that bullying can cause"? Is Mr. DiBuo a psychiatrist, physiologist or guidance counselor? What is Mr. DiBuo's teaching experience? How many years has Mr. DiBuo spent in an educational setting instructing students, teachers, administrators or the community? The quotes are from Mr. DiBuo's May 18 paid advertisement.
It seems as if Mr. DiBuo's is latching on the national problem of bullying for profit. "What I'm really looking for is for these people to come forward. For us to train the coaches and teachers to work with them." Our group will provide guidance and support for students and parents.”
According to DiBuo, his ideal scenario would be for coaches and teachers across the country to work with the support group to receive training and advice." (These quotes are from the May 18 article in The Dispatch)
This sounds like a business plan to me. Mr. DiBuo is gearing up to take his plan across the country. He is the president and founder of Parents Against Bullying of Worcester County. Is there a book deal? CDs? Trainings? Lectures? Workshops? Facebook? Social Networking? Is this a non-profit organization or a for-profit organization?
It is a darn shame that people's livelihoods, reputations, values and commitment to helping our children must be investigated, defended, maligned, and blemished. Mr. DiBuo's paid advertisement states, "We will not respond to negative emails or phone calls." How peachy for him. Well, I say, Mr. DiBuo if you want to go make money, go do it, but leave dedicated educators alone.Priscilla Pennington-Zytkowicz