Principal suspends football player, calls him a bully for POEM about his own losing team

Eric Owens | Editor

On Friday, at Rittman High School just outside of Akron, Ohio, junior Nick Andre’s composition class assignment was to write a poem about something that makes him mad.

Andre, who plays for Rittman’s 1-7 football team, chose to vent his anger about the team’s disappointing season, reports Cleveland Fox affiliate WJW.

“I got told to write a poem and I did,” the defensive end explained.

Here’s a snippet of the poem, entitled “Stupid”:

Losing season


Nonstop passes from best friend to best friend

Continuously doing what doesn’t work

Another few lines go:

Dropped passes but yet still the superstar

Yeah, right

Where’s my scholarship?

I can drop passes

Rittman has suffered some heartbreaking losses — a 14-13 heartbreaker against Smithville, for example — and a few blowouts. The team’s lone win came in 41-39 thriller against a Grove City Christian.

Andre said he had to read his lament in class, which he did.

Next, he ended up suspended for four days and kicked off the football team for the remainder of the season.

Rittman High’s principal — Nick Evans, according to the school district website — charged that Andre, 16, “wrote a mean and disrespectful poem about another student and our athletic director/head coach.” He characterized the assigned poem as “hazing, harassment.”

Julie Andre, Nick’s mother, met with the principal on Monday.

“All he could refer to was bullying,” she told WJW. “This poem was bullying. And my comment was, ‘Why would the teacher entertain this assignment, you know, because you don’t know what you may get from teenage kids. So, to me, I couldn’t understand bullying.”

The angry mother declined to sign her son’s letter of suspension.

Her suspended son was equally frustrated.

“Who am I harassing or hazing?” he asked. “I mean, I didn’t state any names.”

Andre also observed that the suspension could negatively affect his academic career.

“It’s like wow, just over doing my school work, I get in trouble, get thrown off the football team, you know, get suspended for four days, which could potentially really mess up my grades,” he told WJW.

The Fox station also interviewed Avery Friedman, a Cleveland attorney who specializes in civil rights. Friedman called Andre’s poem “a little short on Iambic pentameter” but stressed his belief that the principal violated the junior’s First Amendment rights.

Both the Rittman school district superintendent and the Rittman High football coach have refused to speak to local press thus far.

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Tags : first amendment free speech high school football
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