| Neighborhoods

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Fallout from arrests of 3 Monessen football players lingers

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Daily Photo Galleries

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012, 12:46 a.m.

While the Monessen School Board's Tuesday meeting mostly involved standard business, administrators confirmed they're still dealing with the aftermath of three football players being arrested last week on drug and weapons charges.

High School Principal Brian Sutherland said T-shirts declaring support for the players are circulating throughout the student body but have not caused in-school disruptions.

He also dismissed rumors about students being sent home for wearing the shirts. Sutherland said he witnessed only three high school students wearing the shirts on Friday and zero on Monday.

“We always try to talk with our kids and see what their intentions are,” he said. “A lot of kids act in a leadership way, others follow.”

Sutherland quoted a federal law in which administrators can only force removal if apparel “materially and substantially disrupt the work and discipline of the public school.”

While Sutherland discourages the shirts, he said the students would only be in violation if the shirts were vulgar or students were organizing protests.

“As much as we don't want to create disruption in our schools, I understand the nature of the sensitivity and what their mind-set is,” he said. “Everybody reacts differently. And as long it's not disrupting my school, we go on.”

Since Friday, students were able to purchase screen-pressed shirts declaring “free” with the last name of the 15-year-old boy charged Thursday with possession of marijuana.

Football coach Andy Pacak, who initially alerted police of suspected drugs in the locker room, said Tuesday he was not aware of the shirts.

Sutherland confirmed a handful of students and players acquired the white shirts, which were produced by a graphic arts student at the Mon Valley Career & Technology Center in Speers.

Sutherland said he spoke with an administrator at the center Monday, adding the student will no longer be permitted to produce the shirts during class time.

“Everyone has their own opinion, but the one thing everyone needs to understand is what happened did not happen at the school or directly after school,” Sutherland said. “If you have one of these practices to get acclimated to playing at night – and I understand that, I'm a football guy – you don't have the luxury of trusting people who go home after school and into the community anymore, and that's what has been violated here.”

Superintendent Linda Marcolini said she instituted security precautions Monday in an effort to prevent – and deter – future incidents.

“The entire district is distraught,” Marcolini said following the meeting.

“We circled the wagons, and one thing's for sure, there are safety measures in that field house, just like every building in the district from this point on. I'm also going to look at other sporting events to make certain those safety nets are established as well.”

Marcolini added she hopes this is the last controversy in what has been a trying year for the school district, which included a racially-charged incident at Brentwood and a case of a student contracting viral meningitis.

“It's been a very interesting nine months as superintendent at Monessen and quite a learning curve,” Marcolini said. “This was a very awful happening here at Monessen, but it's a learning process, and it could have had a whole different outcome. While you can say it could have been worse, that's what makes it so disturbing.”

Rick Bruni Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 724-684-2635.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.



Show commenting policy

Most-Read Mon Valley

  1. N. Charleroi man jailed in child sex case
  2. Mon Valley school districts wait out budget impasse
  3. Washington Township firefighters make child’s dream come true
  4. Gilmore wore many hats during successful careers
  5. 2 men nabbed in Donora drug sting
  6. Monessen police, family looking for 17-year-old girl
  7. House fire claims life of Monongahela man
  8. N. Belle Vernon man jailed after police station visit
  9. Director opposes increased cost of Ringgold project
  10. 7 Up distributed from two Charleroi sites
  11. Ramp helps wheelchair users enjoy activities on waterway in Marianna