Ray Graham

Former Rowan County football coach Ray Graham has been criticized in an Office of Education Accountability investigation about hazing by upperclassmen on the team resulting in concussions for freshmen and sophomores. (Photo by John Flavell)

The Office of Education Accountability said in a July 8 finding that Rowan County School Supt. Marvin Moore, RCSHS Principal Ray Ginter and RCSHS Athletic Director Jen Williams violated state law regarding the operation of the Viking football program

In a 16-page report released by the OEA, which included interviews with various sources, the agency said on Page 14 that Moore and Ginter violated KRS 158.444 “by failing to provide a safe, secure, and orderly school conducive to learning.”

Additionally, it is alleged that Moore violated KRS 158.148, 160.370, and Rowan County Board Policy 09.422 by “failing to investigate complaints and allegations of bullying, hazing, and harassment.”

Ginter and Williams also were tagged with violating KRS 158.148 and the board policy.

KRS 158.148 and 158.444 deal with the definition of bullying and administrative regulations regarding to school safety. KRS 160.370 concerns a superintendent's duties as the executive agent of the board.

The board policy, which covers bullying and hazing, states that “employees are expected to take reasonable and prudent action in situations involving student welfare and safety, including following District policy requirements for intervening and reporting to the Principal or to their immediate supervisor those situations that threaten, harass, or endanger the safety of students, other staff members, or visitors to the school or District.”

“We always put our kids first and take any concern very seriously,” Moore said. “Both Dr. Ginter and I provided documentation showing that we had addressed each of the concerns in question.

He added:

“This was a personnel issue that we addressed as soon as it was brought to our attention, just as we always do. Many of the issues were addressed before any reports came to me from OEA.”

The report states that “approximately 20 concussions” occurred during the 2014 and 2015 football seasons, with a dozen of those concussions coming this past school year.

Of those 12 concussions, eight of them occurred during practice. All eight of those concussions came after the whistle or during a practice where no contact was supposed to be made. This included one instance where a player apparently “kicked the head of a downed player.”

In another occurrence, an underclassman's clothes were thrown onto “the roof of a building, forcing the player to have to climb to the top of the building to recover his clothes. As a result of this incident, the player suffered an injury that hampered his ability to play football in 2015.”

The report also states a concern with how the weight room was operated.

During the season, the code to the weight room, which was supposed to be given only to the coaches, was given to anyone who wanted it, according to the report.

Prior to the investigation of the program by the OEA, the report says that the City of Morehead Parks and Recreation Department was allowing a convicted felon – on county jail work-release – to be on school grounds and in the weight room. Even though a coach was eventually assigned to supervise the activity in the weight room, the seniors still directed the underclassmen in weight training.

Mayor Jim Tom Trent and Dave Morris, director of city parks and recreation, denied that any jail inmates were given access to the weight room.

The senior players also were reported to have stolen money, clothes and shoes from lockers. Juniors and seniors also hit freshmen and sophomores with socks that were filled with baby/talcum powder and forced them to drink an unknown substance. There also were reports of freshmen and sophomore players being hit multiple times during the course of the year, to the point the underclassmen were crying in pain.

In one particular example, senior football players injured one player's leg two different times, and then threatened to break the same leg at the next opportunity. Another instance featured a player who injured his wrist in an attempt to get out of a bed after he was informed that the liquid that was poured on it was human urine.

According to the OEA's findings, the seniors instructed the freshmen and sophomores on weight training and required the underclassmen to address them as “Coach.”

Graham, who is known for his coaching tenacity, showed that spirit in a statement made Thursday to The Morehead News.

“At the right time, I'm going to let everybody know what's going on with that garbage,” Graham said.

When asked again about the OEA findings, Graham repeated the same jest.

“I can't wait until it's my turn to talk,” the former coach said. “Right now, it's not my turn, but it's going to be. There's coming a time. As soon as my lawyers turn me loose, I'm going to let it be known.”

As part of the resolutions outlined by the OEA report, Moore must contact the Kentucky Center for Safe Schools (KCSS) to obtain a safe school assessment and enroll the Rowan County School District with the KCSS S.T.O.P Tipline.

All district and school athletic directors and coaches, in addition to the pair, will have to obtain three hours of training on the topic of “The Role and Responsibility of School District Personnel in Complying with KRS 158.148 and 158.444.” Moore and Ginter also will have to conduct training for all district principals and assistant principals on the roles and responsibilities of principals under 158.148 and 158.444, as well as the board policy.

The official OEA report can be found on The Morehead News website at www.themoreheadnews.com.

Kevin Colley can be reached at kcolley@themoreheadnews.com or by telephone at 784-4116.

This Week's Circulars