Wyoming County Schools officials will meet with stakeholders from both Westside and Wyoming County East high schools Wednesday evening to determine if the historic sports rivalry between the two will continue.
Deirdre Cline, county schools superintendent, said that the number and the intensity of altercations at athletic events between the two county opponents are increasing.
“It is not a good environment for our children,” she emphasized.
“We are about keeping children safe, we are about keeping children cared for, and to model behavior we expect our children to have,” she emphasized.
“We have zero tolerance for behavior that is not in the best interest of children.”
Cline has asked that both schools’ administrators, prevention resource officers, the county sheriff’s department, head coaches from both basketball and football, athletic directors, team captains, cheer captains, student government representatives, Local School Improvement Council members, class officers, and professional organization representatives from the AFT, WVEA, and School Service Personnel, among others, be present to offer insight for moving forward in the best interest of the students.
Cline believes there are three options:
• Stop the teams from playing each other.
• Take the contests out of the county, maybe to the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center.
• Continue to play at each of the schools as in the past with a new mindset – “that we are there in service to children.”
“If we continue to play, we will ask for extra security,” she said. “We’ve always had plenty of security, but we will need more.”
Those attending the meeting Wednesday will hopefully offer additional ideas and new insights, Cline said, so that the problems can be worked out.
“We’ve always been able to work together to deal with our issues as a community and move forward,” Cline said.
She said she will make a recommendation to the board once all the stakeholders have offered their insight.
The board of education will make the final decision, though that decision may not come Wednesday.
“We cannot continue in this negative light. It is not in the best interest of our children,” she said.
Open to the general public, the meeting is scheduled Wednesday, Jan. 29, at 6 p.m. at Pineville Middle School.