Do schools handle student-athlete injuries properly?

TARBORO, N.C. (WNCN) – One Edgecombe County mom says the school district did not do enough for her son when he was injured during football practice.

As a seventh grader playing on W.A. Pattillo’s middle school football team, O’Shaie Shelley says he was working towards his goal of playing professional football.

“When you get into the end zone it feels like you’re No. 1,” said Shelley.

Shelley’s dream almost came to an end last year while he says he was doing what he loved.

“I thought my bone fell out of my knee,” he said.

Documents from the emergency visit, provided to CBS North Carolina by the family, show Shelley tore his ACL.


However, Shelley said it would take hours after the injury for he and his family found this out.

“I asked my coach to take me to the hospital and he said, ‘no,’” said Shelley.

Instead, Shelley says his coach told him to walk it off.

Shelley says he had to wait 30 minutes for practice to end before his coach drove him, not to a hospital, but to his house.

“They showed me no concern about my son, and, you know, it really hurt me” said Starsheda Pettaway.

Pettaway was not at home when Shelley was dropped off she says.

Instead, Pettaway says she found out about the injury second hand while at work.

“They were like, ‘Star, you need to rush out your son’s been injured really bad,’ so I panicked,” she said.

Pettaway says she would expect the coaches, and the school to do more for her son.

“They need to do something about, because they didn’t handle it right,” she said.

Pettaway said for Shelley to play football for W.A Pattillo Middle School, she had to sign and provide several documents.

One of the documents is the North Carolina High School Athletic Association Eligibility and Authorization Statement.

Within the document, in regards to injury, it states, “…the student-athlete will be treated and transported via ambulance to the nearest hospital.”

It also states, “a reasonable attempt will be made to contact the parent/legal custodian”.

Pettaway says neither of these actions happened when her son tore his ACL.

CBS North Carolina went to Edgecombe County school officials for answers.

However, no one would speak to us on camera.

Edgecombe County School spokeswoman Susan Hoke said off camera that according to the district’s investigation the incident was handled appropriately.

Edgecombe County Public Schools Assistant Superintendent Marc Whichard said in an email:

“…middle school athletics, is governed, as are all middle school athletics, by policies adopted by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. ECPS follows those polices.”

However, when it comes to injuries in middle school athletics, Department of Public Instruction officials say there is no policy for what steps coaches should take.

“There is no state policy that outlines what steps school coaches should take in the event a student is injured while at practice or during a game. It would be at the discretion of the local school district to draft such a policy and ensure that coaches are informed and adhere to it.” said Director of Communications for DPI, Drew Elliot.

DPI does have policy which states, “LEAs shall work toward having a licensed athletic trainer or first responder available for all school practices and games of all sports at both the high school and middle school.”

Pettaway says W.A. Pattillo Middle did not have that available for her son when he was injured.

She says something needs to change with how schools are handling student injuries.

“I mean for any child, not just mine, I feel that was not right. And I would ask them how they would feel if that was there child,” said Pettaway.

“It wasn’t handled right. I don’t care if there aren’t papers or not, if someone is hurt you should give them help,” said Shelley.

Hoke says Edgecombe County Schools has an athletic trainer or first responder at all of its school’s athletic practices and games.

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