The Richmond County School System has banned 3D Youth from using its football fields indefinitely following a fire that broke out after a game on Aug. 26, but the founders of the organization say the punishment is unfair, citing a strong record of taking care of the field in the past.
“The 3D Youth group was told they will no longer be allowed to use our facilities because they violated several of the stipulations of the Usage Policy,” Richmond County Superintendent Cindy Goodman said in an email. “However, the most egregious violation was pouring out charcoal briquettes approximately 6 feet from our field house that, according to the Forestry Service, started a fire over the weekend.”
Last year, the school system agreed to allow 3D Youth, a newly formed nonprofit that combines sports and mentorship for children ages 8 to 14, to use the Ninth Grade Academy’s football field for four Saturday games for its inaugural season on the condition that it paid for a custodian to clean the field and that they use the field from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The agreement for the current season was to use the field from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Goodman, in her email, said that 3D Youth did not adhere to its chosen time window, staying as late as 6:30 p.m. on the day of the fire. The games started at 11 a.m. and ended at 5 p.m. that day, which 3D Youth believed to be within the scope of the agreement. Organizers say they stayed until 6:30 because of a vehicle issue.
The superintendent added that the organization had an outstanding balance in their payment to the custodian, and that it did not notify the school that a game had been rescheduled due to rain, which left it without a custodian and thus trash on the field.
These accusations were new to Jose Colon, co-founder of 3D Youth, who said neither the principal of the academy, Toni Warrick, nor the custodian had mentioned any of these issues to him. Colon contends that his organization has followed this agreement to the extent that it…