Approximately 75 Wamego High School students held a walkout Friday in support of girls basketball coach Brian McIntosh.
School district officials would not comment on the issue, citing “personnel matters,” and McIntosh did not respond to various requests for information made Friday afternoon. Several sources have told The Times that the coach has been suspended while inquiries into complaints are being made.
The students had begun gathering in the rain at the district office parking lot around 11:30 a.m., chanting “Free Mac.”
Shortly after the students arrived, Superintendent Tim Winter took them into the nearby PLC building.
“First off I appreciate and respect your right to support anyone in the district,” he said to them. “Whether it’s a staff member, a friend, a fellow student, or anyone in this community. You have every right to do that. I can’t comment on anything that is a personnel matter, but I would ask that you respect each other, respect the district, respect your peers, the students. Be nice and respectful in everything that you do.”
To student laughter, Winter said they could “hang out” in that building all day.
“It’s my job to encourage you to go back to school,” he said, “but if you’re going to exercise your freedom to demonstrate support, doing it in here is no fun, doing it out in the rain is no fun. So go do something else safely and have a great weekend.”
Winter did give the students an opportunity to ask questions.
“When are they making the decision?” asked one.
“Guys, there is no decision to be made yet, and I can’t comment on anything else,” he responded.
“Hopefully this helps,” said another student. “Hopefully this helps.”
As the students began leaving, Winter again encouraged them to “Be respectful of your friends. Be respectful of each other. Be nice, be safe. Thanks for your support.”
After the students left the building, Winter gave an official statement on the gathering.
“Wamego High School students exercised their freedom of speech today by choosing to walk out of school today at 11:25. We respect their freedom to do so and expect them to return to class as soon as possible.”
After a pause, he reiterated what he said to the students, that he couldn’t comment, noting, “That’s my statement.”
When asked specifically about looking into issues concerning a coach, he responded, “As you know, whatever personnel issues may be occurring, or situations that are occurring, they are confidential and I cannot comment on those.”