CPS dismissal of Western Hills football coach brings online protests

A hazing incident involving players from the Western Hills High School football team (which includes Dater High) has cost a veteran Cincinnati Public Schools coach his job, an unpopular decision based on social media reaction.

After a video on social media showed a group of players pulling the pants and boxer shorts off another while he cried for help, Western Hills principal Dr. Carlos Blair and Dater principal Jasmine Madison sent a letter to families detailing the immediate dismissal of football coach Armand Tatum.

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"We are saddened and upset by what happened, and school leadership and the CPS administration is taking it very seriously. Actions like this are not representative of who we are as school communities, the young people that come to our campuses each day, or our staff.  We want to assure you that we are acting swiftly and with gravity to address the situation," according to the principals' letter.

Western Hills head coach Armand Tatum reacts during their football game against Hughes, Friday, Sept. 19, 2020.

By many accounts, Tatum had been a mentor and leader of young men.

Tatum appeared in a video titled "We Care" distributed by Cincinnati Public School in March 2020 shortly after the coronavirus pandemic shut down sports and schools. 

Tatum also had been involved with Activities Beyond the Classroom serving as an adviser in athletic and academic accountability in Cincinnati Public Schools and was involved with the Fellowship for Christian Athletes. The 1994 Walnut Hills grad also coached at Walnut and Hughes before taking over at Western Hills in 2016.

Editor's note: This story was corrected to give the correct name of the petitioner.

Helen Dawit, 15, who attends Western Hills started a petition to get Tatum reinstated to his job.

Armand Tatum, Western Hills High School football coach and teacher, helps hand out learning packets with Lezlie Christian, a theater and dance teacher, on Monday, April 13, 2020, outside the West Price Hill school.

Former player Roderick Tucker posted the following on Facebook Thursday:

Reading this whole hazing situation that happened at west high/Dater has me so sad and angry Coach Tatum Armand Tatum is a good hard working man that stands and lives his standards and beliefs every single day, I’ve never met a coach that has cared more about the kids than the game like Coach Tatum the countless hours and effort he puts into molding and shaping each individual young man is unmatched.. he taught us how to be great sons, great men, great brothers, and great future husbands and fathers so that we can grow and break generational curses that black men are so accustomed to so Coach I am truly sorry for this unfortunate event as a former player of yours I know this is not what you stand on at all so I feel for you and wish you nothing but the best and as for the boy who was hazed I also apologize that this happened to you because everyone deserves to feel safe at school as much stuff that goes on in the world already schools should be more safe for the students and I hope he recovers.. at some point and time people have to stop putting the blame for what kids do onto someone else this right here is a family issue the families involved need to do better with their kids.. I pray for everyone in this situation.

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