Second former West Florence High coach sues district, interim principal over handling of their resignation

Second former West Florence High coach sues district, interim principal over handling of their resignation

FLORENCE, S.C. (WMBF) – The former athletic director and head football coach for West Florence High School has filed a lawsuit against both the school district and the interim principal.

According to the lawsuit filed Monday, Trey Woodberry has accused the Florence One School District of defamation while Kelvin Wymbs has been accused of civil conspiracy.

Trey Woodberry. (Source: WMBF News)
Trey Woodberry. (Source: WMBF News)

Woodberry, who served as West Florence High’s football coach since 2005 and athletic director since 2014, said he began hearing rumors in late 2017 that Wymbs was talking to Aynor High School’s head football coach about taking over the role.

In January 2018, Wymbs called Woodberry to tell him there was “a good person to take over football” when the plaintiff left, according to the lawsuit.

Wymbs, who was named interim principal for West Florence High in early 2018 following the resignation of former principal Pam Quick, encouraged Woodberry to reduce his duties to athletic director only after the plaintiff said he had not plans to leave his coaching position, the suit stated.

Woodberry said he received a call on Feb. 14, 2018 from the school’s assistant principal who gave him a deadline of Feb. 16 to choose which position he wanted to keep – athletic director or head football coach. He then tried to reach Wymbs, but was unsuccessful.

Between Feb. 15 and Feb. 16, 2018, Woodberry said Wymbs and then assistant principal Mark Frasier called him multiple times while he was with his son on a college baseball visit in Charleston to pressure him to resign as football coach. When the plaintiff said he believed he could do both jobs, Wymbs said, “I will get your a--, you (expletive), and “You will listen to a white woman but not a black man, f--- you,” the lawsuit states.

On March 1, Wymbs and Frasier told Woodberry to fire volleyball coach Hillary Pratt and basketball coach Pete Ellis, according to court documents. The plaintiff protested because he didn’t believe the two had done anything to warrant being fired and was then told to tell them the programs “needed to go in a different direction,” the lawsuit states.

The day Woodberry fired Pratt, Wymbs “scolded” him, claiming the interim principal heard other people knew about the plans to terminate the coaches’ employment. The plaintiff guessed the volleyball coach had told others after she was let go, according to court documents.

“Nevertheless, Plaintiff was warned that his actions over the next week would determine his fate at West Florence High School,” the lawsuit states.

On March 2, 2018, Woodberry submitted his written resignation to Frasier for the athletic director position due to his frustration with having to fire the basketball and volleyball coaches, according to court documents. However, he desired to remain as West Florence High’s head football coach.

Two weeks later, the plaintiff alleges that Wymbs and Frasier accused him of not being loyal and a part of their “A-team.” The defendant then threatened to fire Woodberry if he did not have a good season in 2018, court documents state.

On March 18, another assistant principal, Randy Jackson, emailed Woodberry about a media request and told him that all information provided needed to be “truthful with 100% transparency.” Any and all false or misconstrued information would be “looked into” by the district, according to the lawsuit.

Woodberry was contacted by a member of the local media about accusations that Quick changed graded to keep athletes eligible and had mishandled the interview process when she hired the volleyball coach, court documents state. The plaintiff reportedly denied the interview was mishandled and identified the candidates he interviewed for the job.

Regarding the reporter’s question about grade changes, Woodberry said a softball player had been ineligible because of a failure to attend classes, the lawsuit states. Quick told him the student had made up the missed classes and the failure-to-attend status had been changed. The student’s name was reportedly never used.

The next day, Wymbs told Woodberry he believed his interview notes regarding the volleyball coach position were insufficient, according to court documents. The plaintiff said he had submitted all interview materials and notes in his possession.

That afternoon, Woodberry was placed on administrative leave for not having adequate interview information in regards to the volleyball coach position and for his comments to the local reporter, the lawsuit states. While the plaintiff had not named any students in his media interview, district officials reportedly believed he had disclosed sufficient context for the student to be identified.

On March 22, 2018, Woodberry was told he was being removed from West Florence High and being reassigned to an elementary school, according to court documents. He was asked for a letter resigning as football coach.

Four days later, Woodberry submitted his resignation later stating, “At your request, I regretfully resign,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit references a Dec. 24, 2018 WMBF report regarding the South State Board of Education suspending Quick’s educator certificate after an investigation found a change of a student’s failure to attend classes.

That evening, Wymbs sent Woodberry a text message that included a link to that online article as well as a message that said, according to the lawsuit, “I guess that you have seen the story on WMBF. Merry Christmas.” It was followed by emojis of a Christmas tree and a wrapped present.

“The lies are catching up with you your license is next!@ I cant wait!” another text message included in the lawsuit states.

Woodberry is asking the court for an unspecified amount of damages.

He is the second former West Florence High coach to file a lawsuit against both the district and Wymbs individually over the handling of their resignation, following Ellis’ Oct. 24, 2018 suit.

WMBF News has reached out to Florence One School officials seeking comment about the lawsuit.

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