Broward School Board holds to coach's dismissal
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School cheerleading coach Melissa Prochilo accused of bullying students
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Even after being cleared in two investigations, the Broward County School Board decided a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School high school cheerleading coach will not get her job back.
Cheerleaders and their parents tried to rally support Tuesday evening outside the Broward School District headquarters, hoping to get Melissa Prochilo reinstated. To their disappointment, the board decided that Prochilo would only be able to continue to work in the county's schools as a substitute teacher.
Superintendent Robert Runcie removed Prochilo because she was accused of bullying students by a group of parents.
"I believe she is probably a good coach, she's run a good program, but not withstanding that, I've got to be as objective as possible," Runcie said.
"(She) has been made out to be a bully coach -- that's just nonsense," said Jessi Lippman, a cheerleader.
"This decision was made unilaterally by the school board, Superintendent Runcie. It was done so without regard to the truth, facts, and most important, the students, as you can see today," said Scott Etheridge, a parent. "These false charges were concocted and prophesized loudly by a few disgruntled parents who were unhappy about the cheer routine, the choreography, or the unbiased, standard requirements that every cheer student was held to."
"I am not saying that Melissa Prochilo is not a likeable person. I am here to say she did not behave responsibly or seriously, and is not the right candidate to be responsible for instructing our children," said another parent.
Prochilo faced several allegations, but after two investigations, she was cleared by the school district's Special Investigations Unit. However, Superintendent Runcie still refused to reinstate her.
Runcie told Local 10's Baron James he has his reasons and evidence, but would not specify them in detail.
"Do you mean you have evidence she was bullying these kids? What sort of evidence do you have?" asked Local 10's Baron James.
"I don't want to get into the specifics at this point," Runcie said.
Board member Katie Leach took the side of the parents.
"I can only best describe this situation as a Lifetime move that -- we're waiting for the responsible adults to stand up, and I want us to be those responsible adults," said Leach at a meeting last month.
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