Parents ask board for high school coach's removal

RICHMOND HEIGHTS, Ohio - After a lengthy meeting between parents, school officials, basketball players and their coach, Richmond Heights Schools Superintendent Linda Hardwick said a decision on whether or not to remove the coach will come on Thursday.

"At this time right now I'm still going to go home tonight and look at all the facts, all the notes I've taken to make a decision tomorrow," said Hardwick after the meeting.

"We heard from the students and what they had stated and that's where I am right now," said Hardwick, "thinking about what the students had said, the parents, everybody. I'm trying to look at it fairly."

The meeting was held in an effort to figure out how to resolve the problems the parents brought to the board's attention Monday night in a letter about comments they say Coach Jason Popp has made to some of his players.

Web Exclusive: View the letter from parents to the school district. Warning, the letter contains offensive language.
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The unsigned letter addressed from "Parents of Richmond Heights Boys Varsity Basketball" asks Superintendent Linda Hardwick to remove Popp over his "use of inappropriate language, as well as racial and economic harassment."

The letter then lists a number of incidents where the coach is alleged to have made degrading comments to the team and individual players.

"These and other insulting and degrading comments have been said consistently to our children while at team meetings, on the bus and at practice," the letter reads.

Wednesday night several parents said Popp didn't deny making the comments.

"Coach said he made some bad choices and he said that yeah I used a bad choice of words at times," said parent Rick Early.  "He says but you know it's kind of part of coaching you got to be hard on these guys sometimes," adding the coach told the players he didn't know the comments were hitting them so deeply.

Calls made for comment to Jason Popp were not returned.

Many players have said they will not take the court for the 15-0 Spartans again if the coach is not removed.   Tuesday's game against Independence was moved to Friday so that a resolution might be reached.

Parent Tom Scales isn't hopeful.  "I think these kids are not going to be able to go forward with this year with basketball, that's what I'm upset about."

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