LEE COUNTY, Fla. - Parents are furious after a North Fort Myers high school coach abandons their children. Our investigation also finds this coach is accused of mishandling drugs found on his students.
Tavaris Gary is no stranger to controversy; he made national news after someone drew a racy image of him. For the first time, the woman who drew that picture speaks out and turns to Four in your Corner.
A two page document details accusations against coach and teacher Tavaris Gary. Some are now blaming officials with the Lee County School District for how they handled the situation and they feel Gary got away with a slap on the wrist. One year after an image sparked allegations of racism, Tavaris Gary is at the center of controversy once again, this time at the opposite end.
Gary is a North Fort Myers teacher and baseball coach. In May of 2015, an image of Gary began circulating on social media. Shelley Bechtol drew the picture on her kitchen wall, admitting she was angry because the school district hired Gary to replace her husband as the North Fort Myers baseball coach. She says she never drew a noose around Gary's neck telling us,"That was drawn on by somebody else." Cell phone video shows her husband took a sledgehammer to the wall during renovations and that video went viral.
Bechtol says, "I was portrayed as a racist, I'm not. I'm far from it, I've raised 3 to 4 black kids in my home. I have custody of one right now." A Four in your Corner investigation is now finding Gary is the one under scrutiny, in part, for how he allegedly handled an incident involving a student and drugs.
Records show this past March Gary found one of his players with 4 to 5 baggies of marijuana. It states Gary told another coach to flush the drugs and the player was released to go home. The incident was not reported to school administration or to law enforcement.
Bechtol tells us, "If it happens in school it needs to be reported." Madrigall feels, "He's not accountable for his actions." The report also details an incident in February where two JV baseball players were left at LaBelle High School after a game because Gary didn't do a head count before students got on the bus to leave. Even worse, the incident was not reported by the coaching staff.
When Four in your Corner investigator Mike Mason asked Marcus Madrigal what he’d like to see happen to Gary he replied, "I want to see that he's fired." Madrigal’s 15 year old son, Jean Marc, was one of the two students abandoned in LaBelle after a baseball game. Madrigal tells us, "I never even got an apology from him. I got an email apology, I don't roll that way." Madrigal feels Gary should be fired from coaching for leaving his son behind and says, "I’d like somebody to come up to me and say I’m sorry I left your kid, it will never happen again. If I would've gotten that on that night I wouldn't be right here in front of the camera."
Gary's punishment was a suspension from coaching the last few games of the 2016 baseball season. Some feel that' way too lenient and expect the school district to take further action.