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JCPS chief wants to set the record straight about investigation of player's death

Published: Jan. 27, 2009 at 12:12 AM EST|Updated: Feb. 26, 2009 at 6:46 PM EST
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Dr. Sheldon Berman, JCPS Superintendent
Dr. Sheldon Berman, JCPS Superintendent
Max Gilpin (photo courtesy: prpfootball.com)
Max Gilpin (photo courtesy: prpfootball.com)
Jason Stinson
Jason Stinson

By Connie Leonard - bio | email
Posted by Charles Gazaway - email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Now that the police investigation is in the hands of the prosecutor, many people are wondering what's taking Jefferson County Public Schools so long to wrap up its investigation into the heat-related death of Pleasure Ridge Park football player Max Gilpin. With this case in the national spotlight, JCPS will continue to be under the microscope.

Dr. Sheldon Berman, JCPS superintendent, tells WAVE 3 News there are many misconceptions when it comes to the school system's investigation and he wants to clear them up.

After Gilpin's death and his coach, Jason Stinson, possibly facing jail time, JCPS Superintendent Dr. Sheldon Berman has many questions directed his way.

"It continues to be a traumatic year," said Berman of the situation.

First, there came complaints that JCPS investigators did not interview all the witnesses. To that, Berman answered, "Some people have indicated they were not interviewed directly. There was a spectator who said he was not interviewed, but we were in on that interview with the Louisville Metro Police Department."

Berman added that the school district wanted to give coaches, students and family time to grieve before beginning its probe and once LMPD got involved, they had to take a backseat.

Recently, Michele Crocket, Max's mother, stated in the media that she did not understand why the JCPS investigation was taking so long, especially since the police investigation was over. Berman says the district's investigators are waiting on police files because detectives had access to medical records and interviews they didn't.

"We're still waiting for most of those files," said Berman, who added that his investigators again requested those files after Monday's court arraignment of the coach.

Last week, Alex Dathorne, Stinson's criminal attorney, told WAVE 3's Scott Reynolds he did not believe JCPS had really looked into the coach's side of the story.

"To my knowledge, I don't believe anybody from the school board did an extensive interview with him, to my knowledge," said Dathorne during the January 23 interview.

That statement came after the deposition of Jerry Wyman, JCPS Director of Athletics, who stated he never interviewed the coach.  Berman says that was not an oversight.

"No, he is not an investigator," Berman said. "Let's be very clear; Jerry Wyman is not an investigator." He continued, "He was simply assigned or asked to check whether procedures had been followed and that's all that he did."

According to Berman, on August 21, 2008, the day after Max collapsed, it was Wyman's only job to get the temperature readings and heat index readings. Berman says Wyman is not part of the JCPS Security Department's investigative team.

When asked why was Stinson allowed to coach the PRP team all season after Max's death, but now has been pulled from the classroom, Berman told WAVE 3 that he was allowed to keep coaching and teaching until criminal charges came. At that point, Stinson was relocated.