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Russ Stoner remains York High's head football coach after raucous, marathon school board meeting

ROB ROSE
717-505-5418/@robrosesports

Russ Stoner will remain as York High head varsity football coach.

During a raucous, four-hour Zoom meeting on Wednesday night, the York City school board approved 16 fall sports coaches at York High, with Stoner among those.

The vote had six members in favor of retaining Stoner, two who wanted to approve the 15 other coaches but not Stoner, and one board member who abstained from voting on the issue.

Arleta Riviera and Tanoue-Onishi Sweeney were the two board members who voted against Stoner, and Riviera began the discussion of fall coaches by offering a motion that all fall coaches besides Stoner be approved.

York High head coach Russell Stoner jokes about Ron Miller from Dallastown during the York-Adams football media day, Thursday, August 2, 2018. John A. Pavoncello photo

That motion was denied by a 6-2-1 vote and a subsequent motion to delay the decision to vote on fall coaches was also denied. It was after those motions and a very animated discussion between board members that all the fall coaches, Stoner included, were approved.

It was suggested multiple times that board members hold their thoughts on the matter until the group went into executive session behind closed doors, but in the final moments of the meeting, multiple board members offered their thoughts on Stoner before the group went into executive session.

Sweeney mentioned incidents of videos brought to the board's attention of Stoner cursing out a player as a reason why he should be removed as head coach. She also said he doesn't follow the board's rules and does whatever he wants.

Northeastern vs York High during football action at Smalls Athletic Field in York City, Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. York High would win the game 32-7. Dawn J. Sagert photo

She added that in the three years she has been on the board she has dealt with multiple issues regarding Stoner's behavior and said that multiple students have left the school because of the way Stoner treated them. Sweeney admitted that Stoner has helped kids go to college, but he has also changed lives for the worse.

Reached after the meeting, Stoner declined to comment, other than saying he was excited to get back to work with the team.

School director Margie Orr said she was disappointed in the conduct of the board during the meeting and said she was happy for Stoner.

An online petition to keep Stoner as the York High head coach was created last week and had over 2,600 signatures as of Wednesday night. The creator of the petition, Tiffany Watson, and Stoner both declined to discuss why it was necessary.

Of the 25 community members who offered public comments during the meeting, 21 were in favor of Stoner staying as the Bearcats' head coach, one was about the 2020-21 general fund budget and three mentioned both the budget and offered support for Stoner.

Among those who spoke on Stoner's behalf, 13 were former or current players. Included in that list of players were Class of 2020 York High valedictorian and Widener University commit William Molina, 2020 graduate Tobee Stokes and former York High star running backs Khalid Dorsey and Dayjure Stewart.

Several of the players who offered their support mentioned Stoner being a father figure that was needed in their lives and credited him with helping them earn spots on college football teams because of improved academic success at York High.

Russ Stoner proud of six York High seniors who have committed to play college football

Another possible reason for why the petition was created was mentioned during the meeting. Stewart said allegations that Stoner didn't allow football players to participate in other sports like track and basketball were false.

Stewart added that he and Dorsey both ran track as well York High and Stokes played football and basketball this season.

Last week, district communications coordinator ShaiQuana Mitchell provided a statement on behalf of the district when asked why Stoner’s position as head coach may be in question next season.

“The School District of the City of York can confirm that there will be a personnel vote on June 24 regarding the hiring of the Varsity Football Coach and other fall sports coaches alike,” Mitchell said in an email. “All sports coaches in the School District of the City of York are hired annually and this routine personnel vote is a part of the process. At this time due to the nature of the vote being a district personnel matter we are unable to discuss any additional information.”

— Reach Rob Rose at rrose@yorkdispatch.com