High School Coach Cut for Cutting Wrestlers' Hair

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Controversy at Winston Churchill High School over the firing of a wrestling coach. (Published Thursday, Jan 20, 2011)

    Brandon Shapiro was a state champion wrestler for Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, Md., in 2002 and 2003. This was his first year as head coach of the team,  but he was fired after giving two of his wrestlers buzz cuts.

    "We did it as a bonding experience," Shapiro said. "My wrestlers asked me about it. I used to do it when I wrestled."

    He told NBC Washington the haircuts were voluntary.

    The principal at Churchill dismissed Shapiro after receiving a complaint from the father of one of the wrestlers, who Shapiro dropped from the team.

    "He missed 19 of 39 practices," Shapiro said. "The father came to ask me to put him back on the team, but I couldn't for the sake of the team. The father then wrote a letter complaining about harassment for using an electric razor on the team."

    Ryan Plummer was the other wrestler whose hair was cut by the coach. "The Coach asked me if I wanted my hair shaved," he said. "I said yes." When asked if he was forced into it, the wrestler said no.

    Montgomery County Public schools issued a statement saying, "The coach was not a full-time employee, he was essentially a contract coach, and the decision about his employment rests with the principal. The principal looked at the decision based on the facts."

    Some students, including some of the wrestlers, circulated a petition seeking to have the coach reinstated. They said they have 1,000 signatures, but so far, it has had no effect.

    An appeal has been filed with the school system.

    Shapiro said he just wants to get back to coaching his team.