Bellaire BOE bids to ease controversy

BELLAIRE A special meeting of the Bellaire Local Board of Education here Thursday was used to mend a riff between Bellaire schools and St. John Central High School that was fueled by social media.

Earlier in the month, SJC’s new head football coach and former Bellaire head football coach Jose Davis was reportedly quoted in an online story by an athletic website as saying students in Bellaire schools were getting an inadequate education. The website that ran the quote later removed the comment and issue a correction saying it had misquoted Davis.

Following the alleged comment appearing on the website, St. John Central reportedly was told it was no longer allowed to use Nelson Field for track meets or practice and if they tried to use the field, the gates would be locked.

Following an executive session to discuss employment of personnel, the board made a motion to allow St. John Central use Nelson Field for track meets if it signs a facility use form, has appropriate liability insurance and pays $500.

According to Board President Mickey Wallace, liability insurance is required by law to have written documentation to use government facilities and that the school district’s own clubs are also required to have them.

Before taking the vote to allow the use of the field by SJC that was approved by the board, 5-0, Superintendent Tony Scott said that at no time was the Guernsey Street school students denied access to the track.

Carol LeMasters, a member of the SJC athletic board, asked to speak, saying the students were kept off the track for several days which results in the school students missing track meets.

She said St. John Central was told by a Bellaire school official they were not to allowed to use the track

“I’m on the athletic board but I’m here for myself,” she said. “We were out a couple of days. We were called and told we couldn’t be on your field. We scrambled because we were out six track meets.”

LeMasters said the school doesn’t mind paying the liability insurance, but had never been asked to before and was never presented with any forms prior to the controversy.

“It was very personal for all of us, not only athletes . . . and I know it was personal for the Bellaire students and adults as well. Nobody took well to this.” She said. “There were a couple of days or a week’s time we didn’t know what was going on. It put us in quite a predicament and I feel it was a predicament that we should never have been put in.”

Scott said the school district didn’t feel it owed anyone an apology, but did want to see the matters resolved for the benefit of both schools.

“We agree something public should be stated because we were on the bad end of something that was said that brought this whole thing to a head,” Scott said. “It was a shot at us from an employee from Bellaire St. Johns. So when you say your looking down the street and this was something we started, that wasn’t it at all. . . So when an employee from St. Johns says that, that was the shot that started everyone being upset. So with that being said, what we are trying to do is move on.”

Scott went on to say that he had talked with St. John Central High School Principal Shelia Blackmore and Diocese of Steubenville Office of Christian Formation and Schools Director Paul Ward about the issue and said he was assured that the comment that was reported is not a reflection of the feelings of the SJC community or school.

“We had a mess for about a week, but after this being said, we moved on and that’s why we are here tonight, – that’s why we’re try to make sure these relationships can be built back from that,” Scott said. “When its all said and done we are still going to be one community and cooler heads will always going to prevail.”

  • Bellaire has opted to drop St. John’s from its varsity boys’ and girls’ basketball schedules next year.