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Montana football coach suspended after post on protesters

DARBY, Mont. (AP) — A high school football coach in Montana will be suspended without pay after suggesting in a social media post that Black Lives Matter protesters in Salt Lake City should be hanged, the Darby school board decided.

The Darby school board voted last week not to fire coach Jeff Snavely. In a statement, board members said they hoped that disciplining the coach, rather than firing him, would give him an opportunity to “make things right.”

“Although there were many people from our community and elsewhere calling for the termination of Mr. Snavely’s employment, as a Board, we chose a different disciplinary path and a proactive plan of corrective action that we hope will spark a change in the mindset, culture and climate of our school and our community,” the board said.

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Replying to a Facebook post on May 31 in support of law enforcement, Snavely wrote about protesters: “they should all be strung up and hang in the public like the old days. Lot less of that (expletive) would go on.”

Snavely has said he is “deeply regretful” about the post, and it has been deleted.

According to the school board, Snavely will be suspended for a year effective June 30. If the upcoming football season is canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the suspension will carry over to the next season.

In addition, Snavely will be required to attend training on social and racial injustice at his own expense, and to help organize at least four community conversation set up by the board chair and vice chair “to improve the culture and climate in the community and Darby public schools.”

Following the completion of training and community conversations, Snavely will be required to establish a one-hour education program for Darby youth on “the necessity of inclusion, respect and celebrating all cultures and races,” the board said.

Snavely will also be required to issue a public apology to the community.

The board stated that it will institute a committee on racial and social injustice in the school.

“Coach Snavely’s comments sparked great anger and pain, damaged the reputation of our school and our educators, and caused the district financial hardship. We believe he has a responsibility to this community to douse those sparks and make things right,” the board said in a statement. “Firing the coach would not have allowed us to make these demands of him.”

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