Ohio school board fires 7 coaches who allegedly tried to force Hebrew Israeli teen to eat pepperoni pizza

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An Ohio high school coach and six assistant coaches were fired Thursday over an incident in which they allegedly tried to force a football player to eat a pepperoni pizza despite his religious dietary restrictions forbidding pork. 

The Canton City School District Board of Education made the decision during a special meeting following an investigation, FOX 8 of Cleveland reported. 

The family of a 17-year-old Canton McKinley High School boy, who is part of the Hebrew Israeli faith, claimed the student was threatened with extra drills and being kicked off the team for not eating the pizza. 

Family attorney Edward Gilbert said the pork pizza was used as a punishment because the player had missed practice for an injury. “What’s interesting is everyone on the team knows this child will not eat pork,” he said, according to WEWS-TV in Cleveland. 

The student was eventually allowed to take the pepperoni off the pizza and eat it, FOX 8 reported. 

The incident was captured on school surveillance video. 

Head coach Marcus Wattley’s attorney Peter Pattakos said the student was never forced to eat the pizza. 

“This young man had every opportunity to get up and leave the room at any time,” Pattakos said.

“The identified coaches engaged in actions that constituted inappropriate, demeaning and divisive behavior in a misguided attempt to instill discipline into student-athletes,” school board President John Rinaldi said, according to WEWS. 

An interim head coach has been named. 

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