THOMSON, Ga. (WJBF)- Tensions in McDuffie County are running high over accusations leveled at the high school football coach.
Coach Rob Ridings was suspended without pay more than two weeks ago. The school system has been investigating Ridings after some parents said he pulled a middle school student out of class and confronted him about something the child said about the coach.
Thursday night, the McDuffie Board of Education voted 5-2 to suspend the coach for ten days without pay. However, the days mentioned were April 24 to May 6, which means coach will be returning to his position immediately, as well as receiving several days backpay.
Critics say he broke the law and abused his power.
“The 50-plus-old educator acted on the words of his child and responded with insubordination and deliberate misconduct ,” said Susan Benning-Tutt.
Supporters say he is an upstanding member of the community.
“He’s a good man,” said Ralph Starling. “He’s gotten 19 scholarships for the kids since he’s been here.”
The controversy began more than two weeks ago.
Here’s what some parents and members of the community are saying: A middle school student taunted the coach’s son, saying his dad “was the worst football coach Thomson’s ever had.”
However, the boy’s mother denied her son said any such thing.
Coach Ridings then allegedly left Thomson High, where he teaches and coaches, and entered the middle school through a back door. He then allegedly pulled the boy from class and yelled at him in an office while two other adults were present.
“He towered over him, had his hand in his face…cursing him, threatening him, intimidating him, and bullying him,” said Jennifer Samuels, who is the mother of the alleged victim.
Critics say what he did qualifies as trespassing and kidnapping. Ridings’ attorney says those claims are nonsense.
Both sides are accusing the other of getting the facts wrong, but whatever the truth may be, it dosen’t look like the matter is settled.