Sunday, May 19, 2002

Teacher accused of hitting sleeping students

1 of 2 boys allegedly struck is son of Bourbon Co. sheriff

The Associated Press

        PARIS, Ky. — Classmates of two Bourbon County High School freshmen who fell asleep during health class said the two were hit in the ribs by their teacher, a controversial coach who was suspended pending a hearing, a Kentucky State Police detective said.

        Boys basketball coach Bob Ward's phone line was disconnect ed, and he could not be reached for comment Friday.

        School officials declined to comment because the incident involved personnel, but Detective Tim Layne said he was told the coach will be suspended without pay until a hearing is held with Superintendent Woodrow Carter. By the time Detective Layne arrived on campus about 1:30 p.m. Friday, Mr. Ward had already left.

        One of the boys allegedly hit is the son of Bourbon County Sheriff John Ransdell, who said he was incensed when 15-year-old Brandon called to tell him about the outburst. Police did not press charges against Mr. Ward.

        “If they don't, I will,” Sheriff Ransdell said. “What if my son hit the teacher? He'd be in jail. So what's the difference?”

        Detective Layne said the students' parents were told they could seek a fourth-degree assault charge through a criminal summons or arrest warrant by the county attorney's office.

        Brandon's classmates told authorities that a handful of other students were dozing off when Mr. Ward hit the two boys.

        The students informed the principal, who alerted authorities. Neither teen was injured.

        Paris police handed off the case to state police because police Capt. Mark Matthews is a political opponent of Sheriff Ransdell in the sheriff's primary race.

        Mr. Ward, who just finished his third season as coach, has frequently been accused of losing control of his anger during games and at practice. Last year, board members said several parents complained he was too volatile with players.

        Last fall, the parents of football player Brian Short filed menacing charges against the basketball coach, claiming he verbally assailed their son in the fieldhouse.

        Paige Short, vice president of Kentucky Textiles, and her husband, school board member Dan Short, said Mr. Ward directed “degrading profanity” at their son while poking him in the chest before an assistant football coach intervened.

        The case is to go to a jury trial June 28, Ms. Short said.

        “All I was asking for was for him to get some anger-management help,” Ms. Short said of Mr. Ward. “The whole point (for filing the complaint) was that some kid, at some time, was going to get hurt. Obviously, it sounds like that's what happened today.”

        Mr. Ward's contract was not renewed this spring after the superintendent issued pink slips for all extra-duty positions, including coaches, because of an uncertain budget outlook.


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- Teacher accused of hitting sleeping students