ALBANY — It didn’t take long for the father of a bullied former Westover basketball player to react to word that school principal William Chunn had reduced the discipline for two of seven players involved in an incident which took place in June at a basketball camp in Tallahassee.
After a Dougherty County Police Department investigation determined that the 16-year-old student was indeed physically and verbally abused and bullied, the principal handed out punishment to the seven players involved.
Chunn’ original disciplinary action included kicking one player off the basketball team and five days of at-home and in-school suspensions for two players, five-game suspensions and 25 hours of community service for the remaining six players.
Thursday, Chunn adjusted discipline for the two players by removing their in-home suspension days. The remaining discipline against all of the players still stands.
“My main thing is that I an kind of mad at Chunn right now. This is a slap in the face to everybody,” Manswell Peterson said Friday. ” He’s trying to protect his athletes and that’s just above and beyond crazy.”
Peterson said he was concerned about the message Chunn was sending.
“It is important to send a message to all bullies as well as the parents of those bullies that this type of behavior should not be allowed within the school system that we trust with our children,” Peterson said. “It is sad when a principal decides that his sports program is more important than the victim in a bullying case. You can’t un-ring a bell. Chunn with his inappropriate deal to reduce the punishment for two of the students and claim that the punishment was too harsh is ludicrous.
“He has opened the door to bullies in his school.”
Peterson said he was still mulling over a possible lawsuit against the Dougherty County School System and Westover head basketball coach Dallis Smith.
“I haven’t ruled anything out yet, all I want to do right now is get my son situated.”
According to sources close to the situation, last month Peterson met with DCSS attorney Tommy Coleman and asked for $200,000 to settle the case. Coleman reportedly refused and countered with an offer of $1,000 which Peterson refused then walked out of the meeting.
The same source said Peterson was considering suing the DCSS for $2 million and Smith for $1 million.
On Friday, Peterson would neither confirm nor deny the amounts or if he was thinking about suing, but reiterated, “all I want right now is to get my son situated.”
Less than a week after the incident in Tallahassee, Peterson moved his son from Westover to Sherwood Christian Academy.