SD 228 board ponders coach’s future
By Tia Carol Jones Correspondent July 2, 2013 10:44PM
Updated: August 4, 2013 6:39AM
The Bremen High School District 228 Board remained in closed session late Tuesday night, discussing the future of Earnest Sutton, the varsity football coach at Hillcrest High School who was charged with drunken driving last month.
About 60 people attended the meeting and about 15 spoke, all in support of Sutton, who was charged with DUI, possession of marijuana and improper parking in a roadway after Homewood police found him passed out in his car about 2:40 a.m. June 10 at 183rd Street and Kedzie Avenue.
After the public comment period, which took about an hour, the board went into closed session about 9:30 p.m. and remained there as of 10:30 p.m.
Sutton briefly addressed the board, apologizing for the incident and asking the board to not dismiss him and “give consideration to me as a whole person.
“I’m really remorseful. Up until this incident I didn’t know I had a problem,” he said. “I’ve been a part of this district for 42 years. Over the years I’ve done a lot for the children in this community. I dedicated my life to these kids. Me being terminated is not the best course of action.”
Country Club Hills resident Clifton Graham Jr., head of the south suburban chapter of the NAACP, described Sutton as a “legend in this community, and 99 percent of what I’ve heard about him has been super positive.”
Theo Chapman, a Hillcrest alumnus and a parent of a student at the school, told the board that “punishing those with addictions is not the solution. He has taught, mentored and shaped the lives of many children. Issue sanctions, but allow him to regain honor.”
Sutton, 46, of Flossmoor, a 1985 graduate of Bremen High School, became Hillcrest’s football coach in 1999 and also has worked as a dean there for four years.
Traffic and court records show that he was charged with DUI in Markham in 2000 and a year ago in Chicago Heights. The disposition of those cases was unclear Tuesday.
Sutton admitted to officers during the June 10 stop that he was drinking alcohol earlier in the day, his breath smelled of alcohol and he failed a field sobriety test, according to police. They said he was carrying 2.4 grams of marijuana when he was arrested, and there were 2.2 grams of marijuana in his car.