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February 25, 2014

Actions taken after high school basketball game dust-up

The Richland 1 schools superintendent said Tuesday night he has taken some personnel actions in the wake of a controversy over the Dreher High School administration’s handling of student fans during a Dreher-Lower Richland High School basketball game.

The Richland 1 schools superintendent said Tuesday night he has taken some personnel actions in the wake of a controversy over the Dreher High School administration’s handling of student fans during a Dreher-Lower Richland High School basketball game.

“We are moving toward a conclusion,” Percy Mack said following a meeting of the Richland 1 school board where dozens of Dreher parents and alumni came out in support of Dreher High School principal Jeanne Stiglbauer and athletics director Mike DuBard. Mack declined to elaborate on decisions made so far.

There is no question that the atmosphere was charged during the Feb. 8 basketball game between the two rival teams.

But whether the Dreher administration overreacted in attempting to contain Lower Richland students or was maintaining needed order in a chaotic environment remained the question of the day.

Richland County Councilman Kelvin Washington, whose son plays on the Lower Richland team, made the original complaint, contending Dreher administrators created a threatening atmosphere and unnecessarily demanded that Lower Richland students move to a different section of the bleachers.

Tuesday, Washington reiterated that contention, although he said he has not threatened to withhold funding from Dreher, a rumor that has circulated in social media, or sought any firings.

“This is about the kids, the kids of Lower Richland,” Washington said. “When their kids came to Lower Richland, they were in a safe environment. But that night at Dreher was a visceral, troubling thing to see the administration act that way.”

Dreher High School senior Anna Weatherwax said the atmosphere was no more tense than any other high school game she has attended. And she suggested Stiglbauer, who has a son who plays basketball for the school, was an equal opportunity enforcer.

“She wasn’t just yelling at Lower Richland students. She was yelling at Dreher students, and she was even yelling at her own husband to sit down,” Weatherwax said.

Ross Buchan, also a senior, said students at both schools engage in loud back-and-forth.

“Our student section is really aggressive and really into the game,” he said.

Dreher supporters suggested it would be a travesty for the district to take action against DuBard, whom they described as a man of impeccable character who has devoted his career to Dreher.

“This man deserves the respect and support of this school board,” said Peggy Chasen.

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