Dayton Public Schools took disciplinary action against at least two employees for their roles in handling the aftermath of a Jan. 10 basketball brawl between Dunbar and Thurgood Marshall.
Districtwide Athletic Director Mark Baker and Dunbar High School Principal Crystal Phillips were placed on administrative leave with pay, “pending an investigation related to your employment and your job performance,” according to documents obtained by this news organization via public records request.
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The disciplinary documents were dated March 1 for Baker and March 2 for Phillips. It is unclear whether other DPS employees have since been placed on leave. This news organization’s records request was submitted March 2, and Friday’s response from an attorney representing the district mentioned “additional documents that have come into existence since your original request.”
On Jan. 10, with four seconds left in the Dunbar vs. Thurgood junior varsity boys basketball game, a hard foul led to an on-court brawl in which players joined in from the benches, and students and fans rushed the court from the stands.
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Leaving the team bench during a fight – or even a tense moment that could lead to a fight – is a violation of national and OHSAA rules, triggering a flagrant foul, ejection, and two-game suspension for any player who does so.
Dunbar officials confirmed in court testimony Tuesday that they did not suspend any of those players, meaning they appeared in JV games all through January and February as ineligible players. Acting DPS Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli confirmed this week that Dunbar will have to forfeit all junior varsity wins during that period.
RELATED: Step-by-step look at Dunbar case, from Jan. 10 to lawsuit
Dunbar varsity coach Chuck Taylor testified Tuesday that he knows leaving the bench during a fight leads to a two-game suspension. Dunbar JV coach Donnovan Brown testified that he knew which five players were on the court when the brawl started. And both men testified that they watched the tape dozens of times. The tape shows several Dunbar bench players running into the on-court melee.
But when Taylor was asked under oath why Dunbar didn’t suspend players for coming off the bench, he said “It’s up to the referee to help us out and give us some numbers.” The referee’s report did not list the numbers of the players who came off the bench.
Thurgood Marshall players also left the bench during the Jan. 10 fight, but the school suspended those players in consultation with school administrators and the district athletic administrator, according to both Thurgood coaches, and the OHSAA.
APRIL 2017: All DPS schools get 3 years of OHSAA probation
In October 2016, Baker was the districtwide athletic director and Phillips was the Dunbar principal when Dunbar used an ineligible football player, forcing it to forfeit two games and miss the playoffs.
In April 2017, the entire DPS athletic program was fined and placed on three years of probation after Dunbar tried to purposely lose a football game, to engineer a particular playoff outcome.
Three weeks later, Dayton’s school board approved a new two-year contract for Baker, by a 5-1 vote. That led OHSAA officials to more clearly implicate Baker as the person they believed instructed Dunbar coaches to try to lose that football game.
APRIL 2017: Dayton school board extends Baker’s contract
MAY 2017: OHSAA implicates Baker in Dunbar football scandal