Prince William Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Steven Walts.
There is now an investigation into what happened after a Woodbridge Senior High School football coach stepped down last fall.
Multiple parents with students at the school in Lake Ridge addressed the School Board on Wednesday night demanding it takes action. They claim a student activities director whose been at the school since August has created a hostile environment for students and accused the activities director of making a racist remark.
Sources told Potomac Local News the director, Jason Eldridge, told students who complained after Coach Gary Wortham stepped down as head football coach last fall that “they could go back where they came from.”
While some students took the comment as racists, sources tell Potomac Local News that what Eldridge meant by his comment that the students could go back to their home schools from where they transferred in order to play football for Wortham.
Wortham still works in the school’s attendance office. Eldridge remains the schools’ activities director.
“Many of the Woodbridge High School parents have come to you” over this issue, Swanell Wiggins, a Prince William resident, told the School Board Wednesday night. He claims they’ve asked for an investigation into why Wortham stepped down, and into the alleged racist remark.
Schools Superintendent Dr. Steven Walts says he’s heard the requests, has retained Fairfax-based law firm of Blakenship and Keith to investigate the matter. The firm has been representing the school division on matters since 2004. “We believe that everyone involved should receive fair treatment and due process…” said Walts. “The climate and culture of our schools is critical.”
“My sincere apologies because your efforts really did seem to fall on deaf ears,” said Occoquan District School Board member Lillie Jessie. She says she raised concerns about the student activities director last summer. “I just felt my voice was not heard either.”
Walts added, the results of the investigation will not be made public, and said he has full confidence in the school’s principal, Heather Abney to lead the school and its 2,704 students.
The School Board’s move comes after the school division reinstated Mike Colangelo last week as the head baseball coach at Colgan Senior High School at Independent Hill. He was the subject of a conflict of interest investigation by the school division after he stepped down from coaching there in 2018, after he was told he could no longer rent out the school’s baseball diamond for his private business, according to Insidenova’s Dave Fawcett.