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Parents voice concerns over Bridgeport athletics

Three parents raised concerns about the Bridgeport ISD athletic department and its leadership in a packed school board meeting Monday night. 

The parents’ concerns ranged from grievances about how students are treated by coaches to how district leadership has resulted in dwindling pride and community support for athletics in Bridgeport.

Parents, students and Bridgeport staff wait for Monday’s school board meeting to begin. Messenger photo by Austin Jackson.

Bridgeport Superintendent Brandon Peavey emailed a comment to the Messenger following the meeting.

“Any time the community brings concerns to the district, it is important to listen and find ways to evaluate those concerns,” Peavey said. “As a district, we take pride in all of our programs and support students in all endeavors. Moving forward, we will look for an opportunity to improve programs in a positive manner. I do appreciate the commitment and hard work from all Bridgeport ISD staff. Our students and student athletes continue to be everyone’s top priority.”

Thirty-four people signed in before the meeting began, finding seats and spots to stand against the wall. 

A large portion of those present, who appeared to be in support of the speakers, left after the public comment section concluded. 

Joe Marshall, Deena Marshall and Teri Brishetto were the three parents who spoke at the meeting. 

“There’s a lack of support with a lot of parents because they’re upset with how our athletics program is ran in Bridgeport,” Deena Marshall said in her address to the school board. “The lack in leadership and integrity have been at the top of the list of complaints and [also] the way our kids are treated and talked to. Last year my son was told by a coach that none of the coaches liked him, he had no talent and would amount to nothing. This broke his heart and self esteem that he almost quit athletics all together. I should’ve come forward, but he said, ‘Mom, please don’t, because it will be taken out on me.’ This I have heard from several parents.”

Speakers were instructed that they could not address any district employee or student by name and that they would only have three minutes to speak. 

The speakers followed the rules (aside from one parent getting cutoff by a timer). Each pointed to athletic department leadership as an issue.

Shannon Wilson, Bridgeport’s athletic director and head football coach, was hired in Feb. 2017.

Wilson coached at Southlake Carroll and other Metroplex schools as a defensive coordinator before getting his first head coaching job at Bullard. 

Brishetto, who grew up in Bridgeport, said she’s noticed school pride has recently diminished around town. Now with her own kids growing up in Bridgeport, she shared a concern that younger students aren’t encouraged to participate in athletics — a sentiment echoed by the two other parents that spoke.

“There’s still a lot of coaches that care and teachers that care,” Brishetto said. “But they don’t feel that same ability to be involved as we as parents want them to be. We want them to push them, we want them to grow them and I think that starts at a much younger age that I think is happening now. We don’t want to wait until they get to high school. We want that involvement from youth sports.”

Marshall claimed community involvement is down this year, citing a lack of sponsorships at Bull Memorial Stadium and radio broadcasts and the amount of incoming freshman signing up to play football.

“We are losing our district and the things from the past that made us come to Bridgeport to raise our families and put our children in these schools,” Deena Marshall said. “For the past few years, sponsors from the community and radio broadcasts at football games have dropped. Now, this year, we have none. Our community is losing the pride and love for our district. Our peewee teams are down in numbers and only 11 freshman came out for football. Why? All the answers lie in the leaders of our district and athletic program.”

She claimed athletes have been subject to consequences when parents have approached the coaching staff. Joe Marshall said his son was worried about what would happen to him after his dad spoke at the meeting Monday night.

Deena Marshall said a parent approached the coaching staff about a lack of recognition for 9/11 during a home Bridgeport football game, wondering why there wasn’t a moment of silence and why the team didn’t take the field with flags.

“Her son was ridiculed for it,” Deena Marshall said. “What does this say about our district and our athletic program? When our athletes disrespect, talk back, don’t show up for practice or Saturday morning film, it’s a reflection of the leadership that starts at the top. The lack of respect given to our athletes and standards that should be put in place aren’t there. It’s not every coach, but when leadership is failing, some of those failures fall on everyone. We have good teachers and coaches but we are lacking in leadership.”

There was no response to the public comments from the school board, a common practice in public meetings. Wilson, who was present at the meeting, indicated he could comment on the meeting at a later date, but not directly after the meeting Monday night.

“Things must change,” Marshall concluded in her address to the school board. “We are counting on each one of you to be the voice of our kids and our community and take action to turn all of this around. Please help us bring Bridgeport ISD back, back to our community, the one that we all love and what we are losing. We are losing it and we are counting on y’all to do this for us.”

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