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Clairton school board cuts ties with creator of fan page

| Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013, 2:31 a.m.

Four games into the 2013 season, Clairton City School District is severing its affiliation with the Clairton Bears Football fan page.

During Wednesday's meeting, the board rescinded its agreement with Ed Thompson for the use of the Clairton City School District name and photographs on a sports-related website at www.clairtonbearsfootball.com.

The board's unanimous decision bars Thompson from using the Clairton name and publicizing the district's football program, president Richard Livingston explained.

But Thompson, who was unable to attend the meeting because of a personal conflict, said he has no plans to shut down the site.

“It's my website. I own it,” Thompson said. “They have nothing to stand on.”

Thompson publishes the Bears' schedule and roster along with photos from the sidelines at Neil C. Brown Stadium.

He operated Clairton Bears Football for two seasons without official district affiliation before the board gave its blessing to the site in August. He earns no income from the site, which does not feature advertisements.

“I'm not making a profit from these pictures,” he said. “I give these pictures away to the kids.”

Clairton Bears Football has become popular among fans and parents, some of whom asked Thompson to shoot graduation parties and family gatherings. It began after a year-long feature project in which Thompson, a Pleasant Hills resident, followed the Bears for the High School Sports Center website.

“The website gets about 3,000 hits a day on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays,” he said of the Bears site.

Thompson said he is no longer welcome on the sidelines.

“They don't want me around,” he said. “They told me I'm banned from everything but coming to the stadium and watching the games from the stands.”

District Solicitor Dan Beisler said the school board simply changed its mind after further review of Thompson's site.

Thompson, however, believes the change of heart was inspired by an ongoing conflict between himself and an assistant coach.

The district had no comment on that part of the issue, with Livingston stating the allegation is a personnel matter.

The vote was taken after a heated executive session in which athletic director Mike Linnert was questioned by the board.

Livingston said Clairton's football program does not need a boost from an outside website, because the district provides adequate coverage on its official site.

Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956, or jvertullo@tribweb.com.

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