BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A popular local football coach is back on the field, months after he was suspended over hazing accusations. His suspension caused an outcry by players and parents. Monday, a judge ruled to let the Dunbar High coach return to his team.
Christie Ileto has reaction.
Lawrence Smith didn’t think he would be back on Dunbar High’s football field this year after allegations last November of a locker room hazing incident slapped him with a one year suspension.
“I kept faith,” Smith said. “I kept faith, listened to my attorney and kept faith.”
Court documents filed this month by Smith’s attorney argue Baltimore City schools illegally handled his case.
“There are legal procedures that apply to investigation and discipline and we allege that they were wholly ignored,” said Smith’s attorney, Kathleen Cahill.
A judge agreed Monday, lifting his suspension with a 10-day restraining order, allowing him to be back on the field for practice.
“It wasn’t worth suspending him for just that,” a player said.
Players rallied around their coach.
“It feels real good to have Coach Lawrence back,” a player said.
While many students support Smith’s return, not everyone is on board. Baltimore City schools released a statement saying, “Today, the Circuit Court of Baltimore City issued an order reinstating Lawrence Smith to the position of head football coach at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School. Though we are disappointed with the court’s ruling, Baltimore City Public Schools will comply.”
“I haven’t been around these guys since February, so it feels really good to be here,” Smith said.
Still, for Smith, being back—even if temporary—is better than being sidelined for the season.
Smith has been allowed to return temporarily as head coach but not as a city schools police officer.
Smith heads back to court in a couple of weeks for a preliminary injunction hearing.
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