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Rockwall ISD takes coach’s allegations to the Department of Family and Protection

Rockwall ISD has filed charges against Rockwall-Heath High School head football coach John Harrell with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

The school board on Tuesday evening said little about illnesses and hospitalizations that occurred after an off-season fitness class on January 6, when football players were forced to do an extreme number of push-ups in an hour.

After leaving the executive session at the start of the school board meeting on Tuesday evening, a statement was released in the Herald-Banner.

The statement said: “Rockwall ISD continues to care for the affected student-athletes. Our strong concern for these students and their health prompted the district to immediately conduct a third-party investigation into the incident. We know that the investigation will take time, and we are waiting for its completion. We know there are many questions, but we ask everyone to resolve the process before jumping to conclusions. Please understand that federal privacy law prohibits school districts from disclosing certain student information. As noted last week, the county immediately notified the Texas Department of Family Protective Services of the allegations, and this is likely a continuation of the county’s report. TDFPS investigations are conducted independently of the county’s own review, and updates regarding their investigation will come directly from TDFPS.”

The county public information officer said there would be no further comment on Tuesday.

Harrell was placed on administrative leave last week after a number of students required medical attention and in some cases hospitalization after the eighth sports session on Jan. 6, according to a letter sent to parents by school principal Todd Bradford.

Rockwall ISD became aware of the situation on Jan. 9 after several parents reported that their sons needed medical attention and “in some cases, hospitalization,” according to the letter.

Athletes who were forced to perform an excessive amount of push-ups were asked to report any of the following conditions:

  • Inability to bend or straighten the arms
  • Inability to raise arms above head
  • dark urine
  • Sharp pain in the arm.

Additional symptoms to look out for include lack of urination, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, confusion, lethargy or loss of consciousness, the letter said. The letter also noted that the district intends to keep in touch with families of student-athletes and will notify “relevant third party agencies.”

Harrell could not be contacted for comment after Tuesday’s meeting.

Harrell ended his first season as head coach at Rockwall-Heath last year. Prior to his promotion to head coach, he was the Heat’s running game coordinator.

He replaced Mike Spradlin, who retired. Harrell’s coaching resume includes work as an assistant coach at Stevenville, Midlothian and Garland ISD, as well as serving as an offensive coordinator and powerlifting head coach.

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