Ashley hoops coach’s firing polarizing school community

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Submitted: Tue, 05/27/2014 - 9:30pm
Updated: Tue, 07/21/2015 - 5:18am

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — More than a month ago Ashley High School dismissed its basketball coach. Since then we’ve been getting emails and phone calls from supporters of David Rutledge as well as detractors.

Today this controversy went to a new level when some students walked out of class in protest.

This season was Rutledge’s first as a teacher and boys basketball coach at Ashley. In April administrators dismissed him from his coaching position, and earlier this month they let him know he would not return to the classroom either. It’s a decision that has polarized the school.

“It was precipitated by the false accusations of a couple (of people),” Rutledge said during a phone interview today.

They are false accusation Rutledge says cost him his job.

“He might be a little overbearing, but that’s the way coaches are,” said Nick Saffo, an Ashley parent who supports Rutledge

Saffo came to the school Tuesday morning to watch the coach’s critics protest.

“The people that were here were friends of the people that didn’t get to play,” Saffo said. “That’s the bottom line. Disgruntled parents, helicopter parents, with nothing better to do.”

But one of Rutledge’s students says he bullied some of her classmates.

“He would just get the class to laugh at them,” Kaylie Kirkwood said. “He would say whatever he could to make them feel bad.”

Rutledge denies the allegations, as well as others he says are little more than heresay. He points instead to the dozens of students and parents who attended the May 13 school board meeting to support Rutledge.

“At a time when teacher benefits are lowering and we are losing teachers, we don’t need to lose the good ones, and he is a good one,” Ashley basketball player Trey Williford told the board.

Now Rutledge is out of a job and waiting for an appeal hearing next month.

Rutledge said Ashley administrators told him he was dismissed as coach because he did not deal with high-maintenance parents.

We asked to speak with Ashley’s principal last week about the community concerns. School district spokeswoman Valita Quattlebaum responded in part, “There are some parents who are not happy about some recent personnel changes that have occurred at the school. However, because these are personnel matters, we are unable to discuss them at this time for legal reasons.”

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49 Comments on "Ashley hoops coach’s firing polarizing school community"

Ashley Coach and Teacher
2015 years 8 months ago

I second that emotion ! Sorry Rutledge, I wish I could help, many of us do, but we are too busy hiding and updating our resumes.

Fed up, Ashley fans
2015 years 8 months ago

Exactly! No way he is that naive, Norvell I am sure had the agenda to get “his basketball coach” in and Turner just used the crazy complaining to serve Norvell’s wishes. At least that sure seems the case, but then I can’t explain hi reassigned he best math teacher to a middle school. Maybe he just doesn’t like men in his building. Anyway, mrs. AK will be there to say what they want, until they try to support his new coach and she gets mad her son can’t score anymore.

Beach bum
2015 years 8 months ago

Take a good look at us. We talk big and act like we are an up and coming community, but we are really VERY provincial and closed. Had this teacher/coach been a home town guy, we would have never say back and let this happen. Actually, would the 2 player families have even complained so much if thought he was hometown. Instead, they assume he is big city and urban, and not a fit. Actually, Coach Rutledge was perfect for our population. Shared our values (generosity, responsibility, clean-living, and family), he grew up in a small town, and is committed to improving our school and helping our kids. We should look and get to know people before we judge and yell !

James E. Lewis
2015 years 8 months ago

In this day and age of political correctness I often wonder how soft some of these parents are making their children. If they can’t take the heat now what are they going to do when they get older. Remember when they get to college the professor doesn’t care if they get it or not, what are you parents going to do then. For those athletes who thought the coach was hard, you had another choice that you could have taken, quit the team. What do you expect at the next level in college. For Ashley High School Administration the saying you lead by example and the example that you have set is why teachers are leaving this state in great numbers. The Administration has no backbone and any one who was thinking about applying for a position at your school should truly think twice because they may get thrown under the bus like you did Mr. Rutledge. If I were him I wouldn’t even wait until the end of the year before I’d walked out of you classroom. Who wants to work for an administration that has already shown that they don’t back their teachers. With all that teachers have to endure sorry or inadequate leadership shouldn’t be one of them. Just think of the money the school system could save if the scrapped high school sports all together.

Kirk Stroud
2015 years 8 months ago

I’m not getting into all the other stuff. I’ve said my peace about the coach and I’m done.
If you eliminate sports, you have to eliminate all other clubs. There could be no extracurricular activities at all. No after school programs period. You eliminate one, you have to eliminate all others.

I couldn’t agree more that teachers are way underpaid. My mother was a teacher. Coaches get about $1000 extra to coach. Divide that by the hours they put it, it’s way under minimum wage. If you take away sports, you take away just about the only way for the school to make money outside of taxes. Nobody is going to pay to go see a kid in chemistry class, or typing class.
I don’t have a kid, yet technically I do pay for teachers and coaches and school programs. So I want my money back that goes to schools. I don’t have a kid there to be paying taxes for. Right? That is the concept you are getting at. I TOTALLY agree teachers are grossly underpaid, as are the coaches. Taking away sports just is not the answer. Kids already have to pay for their team shoes. Then parents have to pay to go watch them play. So the school isn’t struggling money wise because of sports. If anything, it gives a lot of kids a reason to stay in school and to work on their grades. Then my tax money will go to feed them on welfare.