The Rusk ISD Athletic Director was counseled about the power of his words after recent allegations of cursing and racial slurs led to parents calling for his resignation.
Superintendent Scott Davis determined the claims against Jowell Hancock, who has been with the district since 2016, were unsubstantiated, but sent a letter to Hancock on April 26 as a "simple reminder that any words or phrases, no matter if they are racial or not, must be avoided and not allowed by adults or students when misunderstandings could possible ensue."
"Based on the recent allegations of racial slurs being used and being unsubstantiated, I still will take the opportunity to remind you of the power of our words and what we say to and around our athletes," Davis wrote. "These unsubstantiated allegations prove that our students and athletes listen closely to what we say to and around them."
The letter came after at least two parents filed complaints against Hancock and more than a dozen parents attended an April Rusk ISD board of trustees meeting to protest what they described as Hancock's abusive behavior toward their children.
The written complaints, obtained by the Tyler Morning Telegraph in response to a Texas Public Informaiton Act request, indicate the parents felt their children were being bullied by Hancock and his brother, Chad, who is the football team's defensive coordinator.
One parent wrote their child was called a racial slur and came home visibly upset because the child was singled out and cursed at by a coach who got in the child's face.
One complaint requested the coach be terminated because, "racism and bullying in a coach-student relationship should not and will not be tolerated."
Both of the initial complaints, filed in March, were dismissed. Superintendent Scott Davis said one complaint was not submitted in time, and the other he deemed incomplete.
"During football practice before school started, both of my (students) reported to me that Coach Jowell Hancock and Chad Hancock were cussing not just my children, but all the athletes at practice," the first complaint states.
The complaint said the behavior continued into the football season.
Both coaches met with the parent and denied using such language, according to documents provided by the district.
The second complaint describes an incident in which Jowell Hancock was said to be spotting a student at a weight bench when he was alleged to have used a racial slur.
In response to both complaints, Davis said he had spoken with the coaches, but found no wrongdoing.
Statements from multiple students were taken describing the incident at the weight bench. At least one student confirmed it and another coach, Micah Smith, described a group of students walking away from Jowell Hancock, some with astonished looks on their faces. He asked what had happened and the student told him a racial slur was used, but Smith said he did not hear it.
This parent filed an appeal on April 11, which was also dismissed.
On April 24 another complaint was filed, describing what the parent believed was retaliation against their student on April 11 for confirming they heard the racial slur. This complaint alleged it was Chad Hancock, not Jowell who had uttered the slur.
This complaint was denied because it "substantially overlaps and incorporates some of the same facts and allegations contained in" the previous complaint, as well stating contrary to what the parent believed, they had addressed the situation and it was not evidence an offense that would result in termination was committed.
Davis' letter to Jowell Hancock indicates confidence in his guidance.
"I know that I can trust you to monitor both yourself and those adults with whom you work for positive, guiding, uplifting and motivating words and deeds with our young people," Davis wrote. "I appreciate your dedication to growing great young people through such hard work and high expectations. It is paying off!"