Oregon school confrontation prompts emotion on both sides - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Oregon school confrontation prompts emotion on both sides

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Tears sat in school board president P. J. Kapfhammer's eyes Tuesday night as he apologized to the district.

"This has been the hardest two weeks of my life," he told the dozens of people at the school board meeting.   "I'm sorry if I let anybody down, and I'm sorry my kids had to go through this. But after tonight we have to move forward, and continue on the path that we're on."

It all stems from harsh comments he made to an unknown man in the high school weight room in early February.   That man was the 25-year-old honorary baseball coach, who has autism.

Kapfhammer says he didn't realize it at the time, and was worried about student safety when the man wouldn't identify himself.   Disability advocates worry the incident could hurt future volunteers and workers.

"Tommy deserves to stay a part of this team," says Tim Harrington, executive director for the Abilities Center.  "Now it is up to this district to provide the leadership to make sure that happens."

Many in the crowd were there to support Kapfhammer, saying he was only defending student safety when he acted. 

"From my understanding, the kid, didn't look right," says Christopher Peters who's known Kapfhammer for years.  "PJ addressed it, he didn't know who he was."

Many still call it a misunderstanding but hope it serves as a lesson for students, parents and district leaders.

"Hopefully this isn't a black eye against the Oregon School district because it shouldn't be," says Oregon parent, Marty Howard.

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