Colton Osborne Bench Controversy Resolved – Superintendent, Family Say Bench Will Be Moved

   Written by on October 12, 2017 at 11:30 am

colton benchThe Charlotte County School system has been under fire regarding a memorial bench that includes the Bible verse Philippians 4:13. It was placed on the athletic field in honor of Colton Osborne.

The Charlotte County School Board met Tuesday night at Eureka School for their regular meeting.  In addition to awards for perfect attendance, which we will include in next week’s paper, and regular business the Gymnasium was filled with citizens concerned with the Colton “Cotton” Osborne memorial bench.

Based on tee-shirts and applause for speakers supporting the bench approximately 60 supporters attended the meeting.

Principal Robbie Mason addressed the board stating he was unaware until the bench had been placed that it included a Bible verse.  “The first time I saw the bench was at the ceremony,” said Mason. Mason also stated that he had been working with Osborne’s family and they would be receptive to moving the bench and replacing it with one inscribed with another one of Colton’s favorite sayings: “Don’t play for the trophy or fame, play for the love of the game.”

Following Mason, four citizens addressed the board in support of leaving the bench as it is.  David Locey, who did not identify his address, spoke in favor of leaving the bench as is.

Jeff Watts of Keysville suggested the school declare the property around the bench to be surplus property and sold at public auction. His wife Caroline Watts also spoke in favor of leaving the bench.

An attorney from Charlottesville, Elliott Harding, stated the bench was not in violation of church and state, it was an issue of free speech which is allowed in public and school settings.  Harding did not explain why he was at the meeting except to say it was at another person’s request.

Superintendent Nancy Leonard addressed the board regarding the need for a process to be in place to determine the appropriateness of memorials on school property and the steps needed for them to be approved.  Leonard also suggested the rationale for having memorials be discussed including alternatives such as scholarships.

The board voted to form a committee to discuss whether memorials are appropriate on school property and the guidelines for them. Members Jay George and Jon Paul Berkley volunteered to be on the committee.  In a follow up action the board also approved adding citizens to that committee.

In a follow-up call Superintendent Leonard indicated the situation with the Osborne bench was resolved.

“The school system has reached a resolution with the Osborne family regarding their son’s memorial bench.  The original bench with the scripture will be moved to their church.  The Osbornes have offered to have another bench made, without the scripture, to be placed at the baseball field at Randolph-Henry High School. This resolution between the family and school will help bring comfort to Colton’s family and friends both at church and at school.”

Teresa Osborne Colton’s mother said,   “Our choice is for the memorial to be moved to his gravesite. We will replace the bench with one with another quote. “

  She added. “We are at peace with this decision.” “Please let this alone. This is what we want.”

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