Volleyball Players, Parents Make Emotional Plea for Suspended - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Volleyball Players, Parents Make Emotional Plea for Suspended Athletic Director

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Suspended Athletic Director Karisa Wesley Suspended Athletic Director Karisa Wesley

After more than an hour of discussions at Tuesday afternoon's school board meeting, Arnold High School's Athletic Director Karisa Wesley will remain suspended with pay.

Superintendent Bill Husfelt was absent and on a business trip but recommended Wesley be suspended without pay over allegations that she had sex with an Arnold football player two years ago.

However, Board Member Ginger Littleton suggested the board continue to leave Wesley on paid suspension and have an outside investigation completed within 60 days before making any additional changes.

Members agreed there was too much gray area in the district's and the Bay County Sheriff's Office's investigations.

"Are we telling our teachers that just because there is an accusation made against you that the board folds, and we don't stand behind you. I don't think that's the right message that we need to be saying to the teachers," said Board Member Ryan Neeves.

Board Member Steve Moss met with Wesley on Monday to look over both investigation reports and hear her side of the story.

"Having concrete evidence, whether it is a video or a picture or whatever, it might, would make this a lot easier from a board stand point. There is none of that so it makes it much harder," said Moss.

"This is a classic he said, she said, and we the board, the district have done very little to get to the bottom of what really happened. We cannot suspend without pay and consider termination until we do know what really happened," said Board Member Ginger Littleton, who made the motion the board approved.

Before Board Members discussed the allegations and recommendation, they allowed the public to speak about anything regarding Wesley. Volleyball players, former students, parents, and even a former roommate packed the board room to show support and make an emotional plea for their coach. 

"As a teacher, a coach, and just a strong leader, she does not deserve this," said Katie Santis, a former Arnold volleyball player.

"She's always been key in bringing in new girls to the team, making them part of the Marlin family, and this team and all these girls truly are a family," said parent Jim Wichterman, who choked up during his speech.

"As a fellow parent, I beg you. Please do not take this teacher from us. Do not take this coach from us, unless you have real proof of what has been alleged," said Angela Hawes, who also displayed some of the volleyball team's trophies.

"She's always been about making us look like a family and a team, and I don't see her going off and messing up her reputation and our family and who we are as Arnold," said Matti, a former volleyball player.

The Association of Bay County Educators Executive Director Sandra Butler did speak on Wesley's behalf, noting Wesley hasn't done anything wrong in the eight years she has been employed by the district.

Wesley and her attorney were not present at Tuesday's meeting. However, she released an exclusive statement to News 13 last Thursday.

"I deny all allegations in the letter. I want to thank the Arnold students, especially the volleyball players, administration and faculty, parents and community for the outpouring of prayers, love and support."

News 13 also requested reports from the investigations on Thursday. For a summary, check out our previous article.