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A baseball coach at Riverside High School allegedly hit a student in the face and later resigned from his coaching position but is still working there as a teacher, according to a complaint filed in Kanawha County Circuit Court Wednesday.
The mother of the student athlete - who is an unnamed minor - claims that former RHS head baseball coach Paul Barcus III struck her son in the face during practice at the school on March 6 because the student said something Barcus found disrespectful.
The mother, also unnamed in the complaint to protect the boy's identity, is asking Barcus be barred from teaching in the Kanawha County School system, saying he is guilty of assault and corporal punishment, and other students are subject to potential harm under his supervision.
However, at least two Riverside teachers said Wednesday Barcus no longer works for the school. Principal Valery Harper could not be reached for comment. The Kanawha County Schools website still lists Barcus as an RHS employee.
"As a direct result of the Kanawha County Board of Education's actions and/or inactions, the students of Riverside High School are under continuous supervision by a teacher who has demonstrated a history of corporal punishment, harassment, bullying and intimidation of the students of RHS, the complaint states.
Barcus resigned as baseball coach on March 28, according to the complaint, and was allegedly still working at RHS as a teacher at the time the complaint was filed.
Barcus - who has also worked as a coach in Wetzel, Morgan and Berkley counties - has received complaints about his behavior towards players in the past, according to the complaint, including grabbing, shoving, violently handling and yelling profanity at players.
The RHS student athlete did not report Barcus "out of fear and embarrassment and even denied the allegations when first confronted by Harper, according to the complaint.
However, following the alleged incident, the boy asked his parents if he could quit the baseball team and also asked school administrators to be removed from Barcus' classes, the complaint states.
Harper initially told the boy's parents she would review video footage of that particular baseball practice, but she did not follow up, saying it was a personnel issue, according to the complaint.
Several Kanawha County school board members said they were unaware of the incident, but said that state law prohibits them from disciplining a teacher for something that happened in their capacity as a coach.
"I don't think personnel laws allow us to discipline somebody for their regular job when something has happened in an extracurricular position.
"Now, do I find that difficult? Yes I do, KCBOE Vice President Robin Rector said.
School board member Becky Jordon said while she too is unfamiliar with the case, it's time for change at the state level.
"People need to talk to their legislators, Jordon said. "This is not a school board issue. I think if this happened, it's crazy that if a coach does strike a kid that they can still continue teaching. I think that's a shame.
"It's not us, it's our pitiful education laws, and the West Virginia Legislature - they're the ones that bring our education system down.
School board member Jim Crawford, who has worked as a school coach, said while this sort of thing doesn't happen as much as it used to, it still happens.
"Similar incidents happen in coaching all the time, but it's a new day. Years ago when I played sports, sometimes it wasn't very nice, Crawford said. "In the past we've had situations like these and we've asked coaches to resign but didn't dismiss them from their teaching jobs. I really don't know the particulars about this case but it looks bad, I can tell you that. Some kind of disciplinary action should be taken.
Barcus, Harper and KCS Superintendent Ron Duerring could not be reached by press time.
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