After Paso Robles High School varsity football coach and teacher Rich Schimke was placed on administrative leave last week, some in the community have rallied behind him. At issue is a bizarre incident involving Schimke and a student which was caught on video.
KSBY reviewed the video and chose not to air it because it shows an underage, shirtless student in a school locker room, where he has a reasonable expectation of privacy. In the video, the student is lying on the ground with football players surrounding him and Coach Schimke, who kneels down and does what's been reported by the boy's mother on social media as a "body shot" of maple syrup off the boy's abdomen. The players then erupt in cheers.
KSBY spoke with Rich Schimke's attorney, Bob Bartosh, who says Schimke will possibly make a statement with the school district regarding the incident within the next two days.
Bartosh says the video was taken after the student, a teenage varsity football player, won what is called the "Pancake Award," given to players who block defenders in a football game.
"An assistant coach had a bottle of maple syrup and that was going to be the award," Bartosh said. "The player asked for the award to be poured on him and it was."
Paso Robles Joint Unified School District is responding to the video. Superintendent Chris Williams released this statement:
"Our district has reviewed the video of the incident involving Coach Rich Schimke and a student from October 14, 2016, and is concerned about what occurred. Our district is continuing to consider the contents of the video as well as other available information as part of its administrative investigation and internal review. Our district takes concerns and allegations against a member of our staff seriously, and is committed to ensuring that a full and fair investigation is conducted. Our district holds all staff to a high standard of conduct and is dedicated to providing an educational environment where students are treated with respect and dignity and are provided with opportunities for success. I would like to thank the community for its patience and understanding during this process."
The mother of the student shown in the video posted a status on Facebook on Saturday in response to the incident. It reads, in part:
"All I expected when I signed my little boy up as an 11 year old Bearcat, that
a) my son was safe
b) he was being led by role models of moral behavior.
October 14, 2016 proved to me that neither of these were true."
Many parents are rallying behind the coach, using #istandwithschimke on social media platforms. Joe Horne is one of those parents. His son is a senior on the team. He's been involved with the football program at the high school for nearly ten years.
"All three of my boys played football and all three have said Rich Schimke is a wonderful man and is a mentor to them," Horne said. He hopes Schimke can be back on the field and in the classroom soon.
"It was an insignificant, silly incident that is being blown out of proportion," Horne said. "I hope that Rich Schimke is allowed to coach again and he should be back in the classroom right now."
Those in support of Schimke will be picketing in front of the Paso Robles Joint Unified School District Office on Wednesday from 2:30 to 5 p.m.
Here's the full Facebook statement from the mother:
"Dear fellow Bearcat parents and Paso Robles community members,
Please understand that before I say what I have to say, I have one goal. To protect children. I have been many of your children’s librarian and/or school bus driver in elementary school and jr. high schools, at either Cappy Culver or Lillian Larsen. This issue is a very personal matter. Provided the same information that I’ve been presented with, I would have made my same choices if it were your son lying on the floor that night. Know that my heart is unquestioning at what I must do in my unwanted mission. That being said, let me begin.
I hold no animosity for those supporting Mr. Schimke. He has a long history here, and my hopes are that the good he has done is long lasting. The massive public support for only one party (the accused), and very little for the student or the family seeking answers, opened my eyes to a lot of things.
As a Bearcat Family, I would have expected there to be public support as a TEAM, not one individual. Blindly standing behind an accused adult is dangerous. Once you have the facts, I’m sure you will change your mind.
The well being and development of my children is 100%, non-negotiable, my only job. The priority being their safety and their education. I’ve always believed this community offered them both.
As a family, we have made extreme sacrifices to remain here when many other families have had to move away due to unmanageable housing prices. I have made these decisions for my son to not only be part of this school, but in particular, this football program. With what I have to give, I have supported both to my full ability.
The details of our situation are unimportant, as they are my burden, not yours. All I expected when I signed my little boy up as an 11 year old Bearcat, that
a) my son was safe
b) he was being led by role models of moral behavior.
October 14, 2016 proved to me that neither of these were true.
The general backlash and petitioning for reinstatement shows me that mindsets need to change here.
What was the goal for putting your son into football in the first place? Winning football games at the expense of the mental and moral well being of our children is not only not worth it, but a grave injustice to them. They deserve to have the best examples of honor, integrity, and courage.
Perhaps my expectations for a sports program is a little high, but I have good reason to.
My uncle Tom Goossen is the head coach for Arroyo Grande. My cousin Jake is Offensive Line coach at Notre Dame H.S. in Sherman Oaks. I grew up observing coaches Mike McAustin and John Huss in and out of our household for family functions. Not to mention a team of uncles and cousins, including my Dad, in the professional sports world of baseball and boxing.
I DO know how great men behave. I’ve seen and heard it my whole life, and the actions of our entire coaching staff that night in the Flamson locker room looked nothing like it.
Of everyone in that room, not ONE coach stood up to intervene on behalf of my son. Not ONE mandated school reporter, reported it at all. Not ONE fellow parent/adult witnessing it reached out to me to let me know my son was involved in this scene.
I do not hold my son’s teammates accountable, as they are children who were under the influence of their highest school authority. I believe in my heart that they considered it an honor to have been on equal level with a grown man. They are impressionable.
If this is acceptable behavior, this community has bigger problems than a crappy football record.
Instead of posting about how devoted you are to a confused (at best) man, you should be asking your sons for the truth and doing damage control.
They were either in the circle or in the room and witnessed (and cheered on) the event. Either way, it is highly doubtful that they don’t know the full details.
What do we care about more? Our high school football record or the men we are raising to go out into the world? Is even witnessing what happened worth a footnote in their lives?
IT’S A FOOTBALL GAME. Operative word: GAME.
I care about hearts and minds. These kids deserve to understand what took place and why it was wrong, on so many levels. Schimke and the men in the locker room that night deserve to answer as to why they stood by and did nothing.
What I want here is healing. Not a sweep-our-ugly-under-the-rug-and-and-move-on healing, but real examine-and-get-right healing.
Im interested in security, transparency, and leadership for our sports program so that incidents like this become non-existent.
Only then can I be comforted that my job here is done.
I owe it to my children, your children, and the mothers and fathers of future Bearcats.
I grew up learning I have no other choice."