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New county counsel: no BCDC appointment power

Komando

Komando

Rich Komando, Baker County’s new legal counsel from the Orange Park-based law firm of Kopelousos, Bradley & Garrison, started earning his pay the minute he joined county commissioners on the dais his first day on the job on September 17.

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BCHS Principal Tom Hill’s e-mails regarding concussion allegations

What follows are e-mails from BCHS Principal Tom Hill to Press editor Joel Addington regarding his investigations into allegations that Coach Ryan Sulkowski disregarded an athletic trainer’s advice by putting a JV player back into a football game after he sustained a hard hit to the head.

Dear Mr. Addington,

At 1:35 PM on Friday, September 13, 2013, Mr. Jim Mackie emailed me a digital copy of a letter making an allegation that Mr. Ryan Sulkowski allowed a player to return to a football game in the fourth quarter of a junior varsity game the previous night after the player had experienced head trauma.

I am unaware of how to check to see when I originally read this email, but by 5:30 PM on Friday, September 13th, I had directly spoken with the parent of the student mentioned in the allegation, Mr. Jim Mackie, Mr. Ryan Sulkowski, Ms. Cassie Register, Mrs. Melody Coggin, and Mrs. Robin Mobley about this situation. In addition, I had called to speak with Mr. Justin Harrison at the FHSAA related to this matter. He was not in the office on Friday.

The statements made by Mr. Mackie did not match the statements from Ms. Register and Mr. Sulkowski. Both Ms. Register and Mr. Sulkowski stated and provided documentation that discounted the allegation made by Mr. Mackie. Mr. Sulkowski provided me with a copy of a SCAT2 document (completed by Mr. Mackie) that showed the student had no symptoms of head trauma. According to Mr. Sulkowski and Ms. Register, Mr. Mackie stated that the student could return to the game if he was needed. The SCAT3 and injury report (attached to the email from Mr. Mackie) was not created until the day after the junior varsity contest. There are multiple discrepancies between the SCAT2 which was the assessment during the game and the SCAT3 which was created the following day.

The student did return in the fourth quarter. He scored a touchdown, and his name was announced over the loud speaker. Mr. Mackie was aware of his return. Mr. Mackie did not approach anyone about the situation. If he believed the student shouldn’t return to play, why did he not say anything to a referee, coach, administrator, or athletic director? All were present and easily contacted if necessary.

In an attempt to completely investigate whether or not there was a concussion suffered by the student, I instructed Mrs. Coggin to not allow the student to practice or participate in any sports until he was seen by a doctor. On September 17, 2013, the student was seen by a medical doctor. The doctor gave the student clearance for “full contact sports.” There were no symptoms of a concussion.

Follow-up conversations with Mrs. Melody Coggin and Mr. Justin Harrison have led to a plan for clarifying discussions with first responders and athletic trainers. Coaches will be asked to receive a clear “yes” or “no” from the medical professional as to whether or not a student may return. The safety and well-being of students is of prime importance for staff members of Baker County High School.

If you need further information related to this specific concern, please do not hesitate to contact me at the high school.

Sincerely,

Tom Hill
BCHS Principal

Mr. Addington’s follow-up questions and responses from Mr. Hill:

Mr Addington: It would appear that Ms. Register cannot perform the functions of an athletic trainer under state law. If that’s true, what can she do in her capacity as a athletic trainer?

Mr. Hill: She administers first aid, oversees hydration of student athletes, orders first aid supplies, and performs first respond-er duties at many athletic events. She maintains documentation on all physicals and doctor’s notes for the football team members. She has a bachelor’s degree in sports medicine.

Mr. Addington: You stated, that per Mr. Sulkowski and Ms. Register, Mr. Mackie stated that the student could return to the game if he was needed. That does not sound like a definitive “yes” or “no,” as they will be instructed to ask for in the future. Given the wishy-washy recommendation from Mr. Mackie, shouldn’t coaches have exercised an abundance of caution until a doctor was able to clear the player? Wouldn’t that show that student health is of “prime” importance?

Mr. Hill: A certified athletic trainer, Mr. Mackie, evaluated the student in question during the contest. This athletic trainer found the student to have 0 of 22 symptoms of a concussion. The athletic trainer’s response was not vague during the contest. That is why the student was allowed to return to the game.

As the SCAT3 will show, the athletic trainer changed his diagnosis from Thursday’s SCAT2 to the SCAT3 he created on Friday. There are multiple discrepancies between these reports. Our coach and first respond-er could only use the SCAT2 information provided Thursday night. It wasn’t vague Thursday night. It became vague the next day with the baffling creation of the SCAT3 where his symptoms appeared to worsen.

As you can see from the doctor’s note previously attached, there was no concussion suffered by this athlete.

Please do not hesitate to contact me at the high school via email.

Sincerely,

Tom Hill

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