BELTON — About 150 students gathered outside Belton High School on Friday morning to protest disciplinary action against assistant coach Al Maxwell, who was placed on administrative leave with pay.
The district would not comment on why Maxwell was placed on leave, citing privacy concerns, but some students believe they know why he was placed on leave and have decided that his treatment was unfair.
“I’m out here because Coach Maxwell got fired for something that was not his fault,” junior Faith Davis said. “He got fired for allowing two kids to smoke pot. ... Coach Maxwell told another coach, and in order to save his butt, he pointed back to Coach Maxwell (and said) that he never told him.”
Maxwell, a teacher and an assistant football coach, has not been fired by the district, only placed on leave.
“Employee and student information is confidential,” district spokeswoman Elizabeth Cox said.
Faith would not give the name of the coach that she believes was more at fault than Maxwell.
“We all did the best investigation we could do, because the school was not at liberty to discuss the (incident),” Faith said. “We did all that we could do, and we’re out here to support him.”
Students held signs along the side of Lake Road and Loop 121, some urging motorists to honk in support of the coach, which they did.
Maxwell has worked for Belton ISD for seven years, five of those years at Belton High School. Student accounts of why the coach was placed on leave with pay varied.
“Coach Maxwell got fired for making the kids run laps when they caught them smoking weed,” Ryan MacIver said. “No one should get fired for that, because he was doing the right thing and telling them to get their life together.”
When the district was asked for comment on the protest, Deputy Superintendent Robert Muller said that students are expected to be in class on a school day.
“Our expectation is that students are in class for instruction and learning,” Muller said. “The vast majority of students have been in class and the campus is calm and orderly. Campus administrators will handle individual student attendance issues for the students who weren’t in class.”
School district board President Randy Pittenger said he is aware of the protest.
“It’s not an issue that has come to the board for action yet,” Pittenger said. “This is an administrative issue. ... Those issues have not come to the board, and we’ll address them when they do.”
Cox said that since Jan. 1, the district has referred 15 students to law enforcement for drug possession on campus.
“Schools are considered drug-free zones,” Cox said. “The district follows the Texas Education Code, which requires a range of disciplinary measures for possession and/or use of drugs and alcohol. Parents and students are encouraged to report any concerns to campus administrators.”