Parents Question Pictures of Softball Coach
By Dan Breitwieser, WCJB TV 20 News.
Fort White parents say their daughters were directed to a myspace page to get information on tryouts, but they saw a lot more than they wanted to. And some parents feared retribution if they went to the school's administration.
Several concerned parents told me they couldn't believe that pictures were questionable at best, somewhat explicit at worst. And that wasn't what they expected from role models for their girls. But they want to keep their identities a secret so their daughters don't suffer.
Fort White softball head coach Frank Howell's Myspace page looks innocuous at first. But mixed in with high school and younger girls is his daughter, and Assistant Coach Jessica Ramos. And that's where parents say it goes downhill.
"She pulled up the picture and called me in the room," says "Mary", a mother of a Fort White softball player. "There's some pictures on there that I would call half-naked."
"John", another father was upset when his 12-year-old called up the webpage after being told by coaches to check Myspace for scheduling information. Especially when he saw a linked picture for a friend of both Howell and Ramos.
"Before this, we were fine with her trying out," says "John". "And now we're worried what direction the school is going in."
So WCJB printed off some questionable content from the website and brought it into the Fort White Principal Keith Hatcher to see what he had to say. He did not know about the Myspace pages until WJCB brought in the pictures. He says there will be consequences if the pages violated school policy, but it was too early to make that determination.
"Myspace is not an official means of communication at Fort White High School," says Hatcher. "In fact, the county policy for internet use actually forbids the use of Myspace on school site with school computers."
"What we do in our private lives is our business," says "Mary". "But when you are putting it on the internet for these children to see, then it becomes the public's business."
Coach Howell returned my phone call late Wednesday. He says nothing in those pictures was illegal or explicit. He also says the softball players were not directed to the Myspace page but instead to the team's website that's sponsored by the booster club. He added that it was mentioned to put to team's schedule on Myspace at a meeting, but that he made the decision that it would not be put there.
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