East Coweta coach in hot situation

Coweta County School officials are investigating claims that an East Coweta High student burned his hands on outdoor athletic equipment last week.

Eric Swindle, 17, said he burned his hands on the monkey bars at the school while in a weight training class on Tuesday. Dr. Danny Cronic"had sent the whole class outside," Swindle said.

Swindle said he had moved across the monkey bars, but Cronic asked him to do so again, since he had not seen him. "The monkey bars were burning from the sun," he said.

"I did it again for him," he said. "When I got all the way through, I realized my hands were bleeding."

Swindle said he went into the gym, examined his hands and then went to the school nurse who "put some kind of spray stuff on it." He added, "She had bandaged it for me until I got home."

He said that when he returned to class Cronic asked him to do sit ups, lift weights and run to a sand pile across the field and bring him a handful of sand. "I told him my hands were messed up," Swindle said. When Swindle returned home that afternoon, his mother Linda Swindle took him to Newnan Hospital's emergency room.

"When he came in, he came in with both hands bandaged," Ms. Swindle said. "They were all bandaged up. They looked bad, kind of bleeding." At the hospital, "they clipped the dead skin, the lose skin, away," she said.

Eric Swindle was told to keep antibiotic cream on his hands. "He's still experiencing at lot of pain," his mother said Thursday afternoon. Cronic said he is prohibited by school policy from talking about situations that involve specific students. He did say he takes complaints of illness or injury from a student seriously.

"I try to use some judgment. If they are sick, then we have a nurse right outside our door," the coach said.

East Coweta Principal Kirk Stallings said the school has investigated the situation. "I don't anticipate anything else. We've done as much investigating as we can do," he said Friday afternoon.

Dean Jackson, director of public information for the school system, said the investigation has now moved to the county level where administrators are looking into the issue.

"We really can't discuss it because the investigation's under way," Jackson said.

"We always investigate any parent concern. We investigate it thoroughly and get back to them," Superintendent Dr. Peggy Connell said.

Ms. Swindle talked with several officials at East Coweta. Swindle was moved from the weight training class to a typing class, although Ms. Swindle said he cannot write or type at present.

On Thursday afternoon, his hands were still wrapped in gauze. Sections of burned skin were visible in the palm area of both hands.

Ms. Swindle said she was upset by "the humiliation, the embarrassment" for her son, as well as his burns. "It really doesn't make any sense to me," she said.

"My son -- he didn't leave home like that," she said, pointing to his bandaged hands.

"I'm outraged by this. I sent my son to school in perfect health. He came back burned," Linda Swindle said. "It shouldn't happen to him or anybody else's child."

Connell said the county's investigation should be complete sometime next week.


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