BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WECT) – County leaders are considering a stricter background check policy for volunteers in their parks and recreation department.
The idea comes following a lawsuit that was filed against the county, alleging that two youth football coaches encouraged a dangerous hit against another player.
The lawsuit claims that head coach Brian McDowell and assistant coach William Powell told their player to illegally hit a player from the other team, and praised him after he was ejected.
The suit also contains the alleged criminal histories of McDowell and Powell, and claims they should have been banned from coaching in Brunswick County because of a policy violation.
Attorney Richard Hollar slapped the lawsuit on behalf of his son, who he claims was illegally hit by another player in the head.
The suit also claims that a similar incident occurred in 2011, with a team coached by the same two men.
The lawsuit also states that the two men have "extensive" criminal backgrounds.
County Attorney Huey Marshall is expected to appear in court on Monday for a hearing on this issue. He declined to comment on the pending case. However, Parks and Recreation Director Jim Pryor maintains the county did not violate policy.
"Under our current policy, despite the fact they do have criminal backgrounds, they meet the criteria of our check," said Pryor. "They are eligible to coach, and the county has contended that is the case, and we have let them continue to coach."
A judge did grant a temporary restraining order – disqualifying the two men from participating as coaches.
County Commission Chairman Phil Norris says the county is considering making several changes to their background check policy that would create stricter rules for people with criminal backgrounds who wish to coach.
Proposed policy changes include:
1. Revisions were made to wording to make the policy easier to understand
2. Staff titles were corrected
3. Exclusion based on feedback from a survey of commissioners, Parks & Recreations Advisory Board Members and County Officials was incorporated as follows:
4. The Repeat Offender Clause is recommended to be deleted due to recommendations to make the entire policy stricter.
Commissioners are expected to discuss the proposed changes at their next meeting in September.
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