VENICE, Fla. – Venice High School decided Wednesday to reinstate John Peacock as head football coach.

Peacock will undergo sensitivity and social media training after he liked a tweet some considered racist.

The tweet written in April by a Venice player joked that rival Braden River head coach Curt Bradley used spray tan.

Peacock said he did not know Bradley was multi-racial before liking the tweet. Bradley brought the tweet to the attention Sarasota County School Board, and claimed Peacock joked about his skin color in the past.

Venice High School principal Eric Jackson released the following statement Wednesday on the decision to reinstate Peacock:

"Relieving Mr. Peacock from his duties as head coach of our varsity football program has been an extremely challenging situation for everyone involved. There has never been any doubt that all parties are committed to and care deeply about Venice High School and its athletic programs. For the past 11 years as head coach, Mr. Peacock has led Venice High School to unsurpassed success on the football field. That level of success culminated in last year’s amazing State championship. Nonetheless, coaching at the high school level is not always about winning and the successes earned on the field of play. The off-the-field and off-season responsibilities and actions of a head coach are equally as important when representing an entire school community.

At the core, Mr. Peacock is an extremely dedicated and driven head coach. On one hand, his drive has brought tremendous success to our football program. On the other hand, this same drive has led to instances of poor decisions, embarrassment, and regret. Those instances cannot be taken away but must be learned from. Mr. Peacock’s recent demonstration of remorse and his willingness to be a more supportive and cooperative colleague to his coaching peers as well as to those he competes against is encouraging. He has stated that if given a second opportunity he will be deeply committed to carrying out these positive changes at school and in our community.

As a school principal, I am privileged to work with an amazing staff of professional educators who help shape our students’ lives. My 25 years in education have taught me that no child is perfect and at times will misstep. We work with our students in a restorative manner to address a misstep or poor decision and help them learn from it. This philosophy can certainly also be applied to coaches, teachers, and administrators who serve our school. We all must continue to grow in our profession, learn from our mistakes to make them teachable moments, and push forward.

As an educator, I believe we have a responsibility to provide Mr. Peacock with the assistance he needs to become as successful off the field as he has become on it. His words of remorse and willingness to correct his behaviors have influenced our decision to provide him with a second chance. Consequently, Mr. Peacock has received a three-week suspension that begins at the start of the season. Meanwhile, he will continue to complete sensitivity and social media training components that will support his professional growth as a leader of young men. He will also regularly meet with a peer mentor who will reinforce our core values. Our collective goal is for Mr. Peacock to establish greater collegiality and respect within our athletics department and to develop and maintain respectful relationships with the teams and coaching staffs against whom we compete."

At the time, Venice High School removed Peacock from his head coaching position, but allowed him to continue to teach.

“This has happened because I was the coach that finally stood up and exposed Coach Bradley for cheating in order to protect the integrity of high school football,” Peacock said at the time. “I knew this could be an outcome of that decision, and I was willing to accept that.”

Peacock has coached at Venice for 19 years. He led the Indians to a state title in December 2017.

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