Free Lance-Star reporter Robyn Sidersky covers Caroline County government and schools. You can reach her at 540/374-5413 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow coverage on Facebook or Twitter as well.
Mom: Son ‘blacked out’ during dispute with coach
BY TAFT COGHILL JR.
Two weeks after Nathaniel Mewborn was fired as Caroline High School’s junior varsity football coach, his future as a math teacher at the school is under review.
Caroline County Public Schools Assistant Superintendent Eric Cunningham said today an incident involving Mewborn and a junior at the high school is going to be further investigated.
School officials decided after a meeting today, the first day of school, that a more thorough review of the incident was needed.
Cunningham called the confrontation “unprofessional” last week, but said there was no evidence it turned physical.
The boy’s mother, however, said it was a physical altercation that caused her son to temporarily lose consciousness.
“The incident is going to be reviewed in its entirety in light of the allegations,” Cunningham said.
Mewborn said “not to my knowledge” when asked if the confrontation became physical, but declined to answer additional questions.
Caroline athletic director Jeremy Jack refused to comment because it’s a personnel matter.
Principal Harper Donohoe didn’t return calls seeking comment.
Caroline resident Dana Pankey said Mewborn repeatedly instructed her son to put on a T-shirt on the activity bus following a recent practice.
She said her son went to retrieve his shirt from his bag, but was blocking the aisle and another kid couldn’t get through.
She said her son was wearing headphones, so he had to remove them to hear the other youth ask him to move.
“That’s when the coach came up and pulled him from behind,” Pankey said. “When he turned around, the coach said some words to him and just grabbed him in a headlock.”
Pankey said Mewborn wrestled her son into a seat on the bus. She said her son hit his head on the edge of a window and “blacked out.”
“He was out for a couple of seconds,” Pankey said. “When he came to, everybody was telling the coach to get off him, asking what was he doing.”
Pankey said others on the bus helped her son walk off. She said when he reached the parking lot, Mewborn challenged him to a fight.
“He ended up taking his shirt off and was coming at my son,” Pankey said. “I don’t know what was going on with him.”
Cunningham said Pankey’s son wasn’t an active player, but was with the team because “we always look for mentoring opportunities to get players back on the field.”
Pankey said her son was shaken up after the incident because “he has a lot of respect for the coach.”
She said that’s partly why she decided not to file criminal charges.
She also didn’t ask that he be fired as a teacher.
She said losing his coaching job along with the scrutiny he’ll face at school is punishment enough. The School Board, which meets on Monday, has final say on personnel issues.
“I know he’s going to be dealing with a lot from people in the school and outside the school,” Pankey said. “A lot of people know what happened because it got around so fast. A lot of people knew before I did.”
Taft Coghill Jr.: 540/374-5526