Halifax County Middle School athletic director Justin Saunders responded Wednesday to accusations made at Monday night’s Halifax County School Board meeting about the status of middle school sports saying he has been working toward having a season since August.
During that meeting, ED-8 trustee Walter Potts Jr. addressed the board, superintendent Dr. Mark Lineburg and Halifax County Middle School principal Dawn Miller about calls he had received from parents of middle school athletes asking about the start of sports at the middle school.
ED-6 trustee and chairman Todd Moser also stated during the meeting that he had as well received calls in reference to middle school sports.
Lineburg stated in the meeting that JV and middle school sports would start after a couple of weeks of varsity sports returning, stating that they were taking it “one step at a time.”
Potts also spoke about a rumor going around that middle school sports would not be played. Lineburg responded by saying that they have spoke about every scenario and that even though they have talked about not having sports, they have tried to find ways to not have to say no.
In response, Potts said that the school system did not have transparency on the situation and he faulted the middle school and its athletic director (Saunders) for not addressing the board about their plan for sports.
Saunders, in response to these allegations, stated that he has been carrying out his duties as if they were going to have a middle school sports season since August.
“I have been going to district meetings, created a schedule, interviewed coaching candidates, had a coaches meeting to discuss our COVID return plans and purchased the PPE and disinfectant required for our kids to stay safe,” Saunders stated.
During Monday night’s meeting, Lineburg stated he did not have a middle school schedule yet, but Saunders said that a basketball schedule for the middle school was completed and sent to his supervisor.
Saunders went on to say that he was approached on Monday, Nov. 30, by a high school coach about using the middle school gym for tryouts.
“I said I didn’t want to promise them the gym because my coaches would need it for middle school tryouts,” Saunders said. “It was then that I learned that there would be no JV or middle school sports, (at this time) information that should have been relayed directly to me as the middle school athletic director,” he added.
The next day, Saunders stated that he went to his supervisor and asked if they needed to present anything to the school board at their monthly meeting that was held on Monday to allow the middle school athletes a chance to play.
“I was told no,” Saunders said.
Then at Monday’s meeting the board inquired about middle school sports and why a presentation had not been made on the middle school’s behalf. The board also asked if there was anyone in attendance to speak for the middle school.
“I was not there because I had no idea that middle school sports would be a topic of discussion. I would have liked to have been there to defend myself,” Saunders said.
The middle school athletic director also stated that after the meeting he reached out to the entire school board and Lineburg to clarify statements that he says “had been falsely made during the meeting.”
“At this time I have only heard back from Mrs. Coleman and Ms. Fraley. Mr. Potts has not attempted to reach out to me for comment. I have also tried to call him by telephone and have received no answer nor a returned call,” Saunders said on Wednesday.