Lakessa Taylor says she sent her Laylonie Dowdell, her daughter, to school “unbroken,” but that the school sent her back home “a broken child” due to the alleged body shaming, in an interview with Cleveland 19 News.
Since the accusations, both coaches have resigned despite the head coach reportedly already stepping down due to the fact it was the end of football season.
Dowdell shared how both at practice as well as during cheer-leading events the shaming incidents took place.
One such incident included the 11th-grader requesting to purchase a new uniform after she gained a few pounds — to which her coach replied:
“I wonder why. You’re eating too much,” then proceeded to force the girl to run laps until her ride showed up.
Dowdell said she witnessed the coaches even laughing at her after she was finished running.
“You’re supposed to be my coach. You’re supposed to mentor me … but you’re putting me down,” Dowdell shared with Cleveland News 5.
Dowdell also recalled a moment where she was eating a hot dog as well as popsicle at a game she attended with her squad when one of the coaches approached her, saying:
“What are you putting in your mouth now?” the coach allegedly inquired.
Taylor said the experience has left her daughter demoralized.
“We train our children to fend off bad things from other children,” the mother shared with News 5. “But we don’t train them to defend themselves against adults.”
Taylor went to the principal Jonathan Kuehnle at Shaker Heights High School to complain but a week later, she claims she had not been contacted.
She was also beside herself when she came to find that the school district praised the head coach after resigning, saying:
“She has been a devoted coach and mentor to students, and she has been a trusted and valuable member of our Athletic Department.” Taylor noted the statement as “disturbing.”
Thankfully, the mother was able to speak with the assistant coach in person.
“She told me herself, ‘Well, Laylonie was laughing and joking, and so I didn’t think there was anything wrong with what I said. Laylonie talks to me about her weight sometimes, so it was OK for me to say those things to her.”
The teen shared how she would smile and giggle to cope with the coaches’ bullying but inside, she was hurting from their behavior towards her.
Taylor shared how since she came forward with her complaints against the coach — handfuls of other parents have stepped up to also share their negative experiences.
And though the school has yet to respond to the parents or students, administrators shared with News 5 in a statement that they: “take complaints of this nature very seriously.”
Dowdell shared how she is wrestling with body image for the first time ever and Taylor is furious that “my daughter has to have therapy and counseling because of something [the coaches] did to her.”
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