Oxford Officials to Reconsider Appropriateness of Joe Paterno Painting on School Wall [POLL]

In the wake of a scathing report that inaction by Paterno and Penn State enabled serial child molester Jerry Sandusky to continue abusing victims, Oxford officials will take another close look at whether to paint over Paterno's picture at Great Oak.

A disturbing report released last week that indicates former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno deliberately covered up a child sex abuse scandal perpetrated by his longtime former assistant has officials here in Oxford reconsidering whether to paint over a picture of the coach that is

Oxford Board of Education Chairwoman Paula Guillet said Friday the school board could discuss what to do with the painting, which is on a gym wall under a scoreboard at Great Oak Middle School, during its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday night. The board last discussed the controversial topic in December, when school and town officials debated removing Paterno’s picture and a quote by the late coach which reads: “My best team will be the one that produces the best doctors, lawyers, fathers and citizens, not necessarily the one with the best record. Let’s keep it in context.”

It is not only the photo of Paterno that disturbs many parents and members of the community, some of whom reached out to Oxford Patch about this issue: the quote is equally troublesome. Many say the quote, which preaches good morals, sounds disingenuous; that is especially true for those who believe the scathing 267-page report about child molestation at Penn State released Thursday by former FBI Director Louis Freeh. The document states that Paterno knew much more about longtime assistant coach Jerry Sandusy’s abuse of children than he claimed and helped cover it up for several years in an attempt to protect Sandusky’s reputation, the school’s good name and the prominent Penn State football program.

Sandusky, 68, was convicted of molesting 10 boys over several years; some of the incidents occurred in Penn State football locker rooms. The report indicates that Paterno first heard allegations of Sandusky’s abuse of children in 1998 and essentially turned a blind eye to the issue over the next 13 years. 

Paterno’s reputation was tarnished when a criminal investigation into Sandusky’s actions was made public in March 2011; Paterno was ultimately fired for not doing enough to stop the crimes. He died on Jan. 22.

The Louis Freeh investigation, which included interviews with 400 individuals and the review of "millions" of e-mails, basically solidified that history will remember Paterno more for what he didn’t do to help children than what he did to win football games. (.)

Of course Paterno, the winningest coach in college football history, had a golden reputation among the general public when his painting went up at Great Oak Middle School here 20 years ago with other iconic figures from American history.

The public and the press questioned the Oxford school board, education officials and town leaders about the appropriateness of the Paterno painting in December. Former interim Superintendent James Connelly told Oxford Patch at that time he was leaning toward the painting being considered inappropriate, but he ultimately left it up to the Board of Ed. The school board briefly discussed the Paterno picture and quote at its Dec. 14 meeting but took no action.

Guillet said Friday she’s not sure how much of a discussion the board will have on this issue during its 7 p.m. meeting at Oxford High School on Tuesday. It will not be on the agenda, she said, but a conversation may come up.

Interestingly, education officials at Penn State are grappling with a similar issue. They, too, have people asking them to remove a tribute to Paterno that sits on the campus in Happy Valley. Many want a bronze Paterno statue near the school’s football field torn down immediately. But ESPN.com reported Sunday that university officials has chosen to keep the statue on campus. For now.

AC July 16, 2012 at 12:23 PM
@ Citizen X, so you are comparing a tax collector to this and basically are arguing that if never caught it's ok. Got it! brilliant analogy. This should be easy not because it's the fastest solution or safest, it should be easy because it's in a school, filled with kids, and on a wall for inspiration. Now take the crimes committed and the role paterno played and you really think it's complicated? Stop overthinking this and just do what's right.
Citizen X July 16, 2012 at 12:32 PM
AC thanks for reading the post but I think you'll need to re read what I wrote before trying to summarize what my point was. But I like sarcastic people who are incorrect & not afraid to post their sarcastic incorrect statements.
Ken July 16, 2012 at 12:36 PM
I agree that no one is perfect, and you must take the good with the bad and all that. And of course, if none of this had come to light, Paterno would go down in history as a "good guy" and a sports legend. But, how could we ignore what we now know. In this particular case I think we now have enough evidence to make a judgement. This isn't just Michael Phelps smoking pot, or a baseball player using steroids, Paterno knowingly enabled a child predator, which for me, overshadows any good he may have done in his life. Your right, life is a slippery slope, but this case appears obvious to me.
Joe Blow July 16, 2012 at 12:51 PM
Let's all stick our heads back in the sand and pretend it didn't happen (kinda like Joe did). By any chance, will you be voting for 0bamma come November?
Citizen X July 16, 2012 at 01:15 PM
Joe I won't be voting for Obamma (sic) or Obama, for that matter, & it is bewildering that you would try to drag political agendas into this but alas, this is the Oxford Patch. Ken I appreciate the comment. It will be interesting to hear what others say.
Gerry Bryson July 16, 2012 at 01:27 PM
It must be nice to be able to act like a "monday morning quarterback"..."to err is human; to forgive, divine"... a little more compassion & forgiveness in our society...and less the throwing of stones... will go a long way...
AC July 16, 2012 at 01:30 PM
Nothing I stated was incorrect, it's my opinion. Carry on now.
Joe Blow July 16, 2012 at 01:39 PM
So Gerry, are you condoning a bunch of people who covered for a homosexual pedophile thus allowing him to continue raping little boys? If Joe was still alive today he would be facing prison time for his actions/inaction's like the others should/will be. Sorry, but to forgive a person like this is not going to happen in my book.
Connecticut Yankee July 16, 2012 at 01:57 PM
Leaving Joe Paterno's image and quote on the wall sends a mixed message to anyone, child or otherwise, who sees and thinks about the quote and its now tainted source. In life, things change and most attempt to adjust appropriately. This is clearly one of those times. Perhaps a mix of classic and current inspirational messages that the children could more readily identify with would be appropriate. However, maybe it's time for a complete change of pace - white wash the upper walls of the gym and allow each incoming eighth grade class to paint a reasonable sized mural at eye level on a portion of the gym walls as a source of pride in completing middle school. It could be painted over as a blank canvas each year for the next incoming class. I'm sure others have better ideas, but it would be great to somehow make a positive out of a negative for the kids at Great Oak.
Janis Hardy July 16, 2012 at 03:30 PM
I think your idea is a great one! Remove every quote on the gym walls, not just the Paterno quote, and let the students decide what they want to see there. After all, it is they who are in there every day and perhaps students themselves will come up with some currently appropriate motivational (or other) things to paint on the walls.
Robert Williams July 16, 2012 at 04:00 PM
Great idea, I would certainly support that idea.
Joe Blow July 16, 2012 at 04:02 PM
Although I agree with your concept of allowing the students to individualize there own gym wall I firmly disagree with removing "every quote on the gym walls" as stated by yourself and Janice. First, let me say I don't know what "every quote on the gym walls" are but to possibly erase quotes by other great people of our past history in the U.S. due to a dishonorable person seems a bit of overkill to me. Besides the fact that too much whitewashing of our forefathers occurs daily in this country. Furthermore, aren't we as adults supposed to guide and teach our children as to what constitutes proper morals and quotes to better guide them in the future? Who would be the deciding factor as to what quotes the children come up with are proper or not? Why should a quote from George Washington or Thomas Jefferson (if they are there, I'm just using them as an example) be covered over because Joe Paterno was a scumbag? On the contrary, I believe there should be a public "party" when the Paterno paintover get's done to drive the message home to the students.
MyGoodPeople July 16, 2012 at 05:19 PM
This is a horrible and disgraceful situation. They should definitely get rid of it.
Janis Hardy July 16, 2012 at 06:01 PM
@Joe Blow: Have you ever been in Great Oak School? Famous quotes grace the walls everywhere throughout the building. If there are great quotes in the gym, repaint them elsewhere in the building along with the others, and let the gym walls be at the discretion of the students. As for who would decide? Who decided what quotes would be inscribed in the first place? Are you going to tell me that the school administration couldn't figure out a plan to handle this process? Don't you think this might be a great teaching opportunity for our children? Instead of adults just erasing something and replacing it with whatever WE think is appropriate, why not let the students learn a life-long lesson from this? Joe Paterno is not the only 'hero' in their lives who may fall from grace at some point in time. Why not teach them how to deal with that now? Erasing the quote and pretending it didn't exist teaches nothing. Deciding why it may no longer be appropriate could teach a valuable lesson.
CMG July 16, 2012 at 06:01 PM
I totally agree AC. I would not want him as a role model for my kids. Take it down....and hopefully soon!!!!
CMG July 16, 2012 at 06:03 PM
Great idea CT Yankee!!!!
Someone July 16, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Never thought it was that monumental of a quote anyways...perhaps change it to a female athlete or coachs' quote as there is a disproportionate # of males represented
Joe Blow July 16, 2012 at 09:19 PM
Janice, I think it might serve you well to RE-read my response. Ya just can't wait to jump on somebody for expressing their opinion.
OxfordCitizen July 16, 2012 at 09:36 PM
I'm sorry...I must have missed something...in light of recent reports, why should anyone want to have their children read the quotes of the enabler of a child predator ? Did I miss something here ? The man won a bunch of football games. He didn't cure cancer or solve world hunger, or create peace in the middle east. Knowing what we know now how many parents of young boys would leave their children in the charge of Gerri Sandusky only becuase "JoePa" said it was ok ??? I didn't think so......Get a grip people....
Citizen X July 16, 2012 at 10:11 PM
Joe I'm very happy that you suggested Thomas Jefferson, someone I was going to mention in my first post. He's regarded as one of the greatest Americans in history & is a founding father of the nation. He also owned hundreds of slaves, used their labor to amass great wealth, & kept one slave as a concubine with whom he fathered a number of children. Thank you for helping make my original point from my first post; this isn't as easy as you'd like it to be. Are we now supposed to scrub Thomas Jefferson away from history books the way Paterno will be scrubbed away from the wall?
Citizen X July 16, 2012 at 10:14 PM
Oxford Citizen, any thoughts on Thomas Jefferson? Should we study his quotes? If Paterno still did what he appears to have done, but he also cured cancer or solved world hunger or created peace in the middle east, would it then be ok to keep his painting up?
OxfordCitizen July 16, 2012 at 10:55 PM
@Citizen X - Are you comparing Thomas Jefferson to Joe Paterno ? Really ? Football vs. establishing a new country & form of government ???? I see where you're headed though.....however, Thomas Jefferson's plusses are bars that Joe Paterno's accomplishments will never come close to crossing....ever....
Citizen X July 16, 2012 at 11:32 PM
I see, so what you're saying is that if you establish a new country & a new form of government, have a few hundred slaves, a concubine, & fatherless children that you & your descendants deny until proven by scientific fact then it's still ok to be glorified? My point, in case you start labeling me anti-Jefferson & of course un-American (& probably a crazy left wing Democrat, of which I am none), is that I find it strange what some people choose to look past & what those same people use as evidence that someone is evil. How would you feel if there were a picture of Tiger Woods In the gym? He's one of the greatest athletes I the last 100 years, no?
OxfordCitizen July 16, 2012 at 11:43 PM
Citizen X, what are you talking about ???? You brought up Thomas Jefferson, not me ? I am not condoning what he did with regards to slave ownership and/or treatment. However, you are the one who are comparing Thomas Jefferson's positive accomplishments with Joe Paterno's. I believe that is where you're losing the argument...... and by the way, I vote primarily Democratic too. You can't justify Joe Paterno's actions or omissions of actions by saying well he won alot of football games or he was good for Penn ST. Sorry, that argument does pass the smell test.
OxfordCitizen July 16, 2012 at 11:49 PM
@Citizen X...the more I think about this the more it cracks me up....so if your reasoning is that during Thomas Jefferson's time it was "normal" for slave owners to have slave concubines so that is was also somehow normal and/or ok for someone in Joe Paterno's position to look the other way while Gerri Sandusky raped young boys, sorry, I'm not buying it...nor did the jury in Gerri's trial, nor does the vast majority of the national public that chooses to follow this case.
Citizen X July 16, 2012 at 11:50 PM
I'm not comparing anyone to anyone, I'm questioning the logic being used to rally behind removing the painting of Joe Paterno & his quote. In terms of voting, I use logic, not parties, to determine who I vote for. Unfortunately that means I don't have many good options to vote for nowadays.
Joe Blow July 17, 2012 at 02:01 AM
Citizen X, First,Joe Paterno couldn't hold a candle to Thomas Jefferson. I am failing to see (you just plain ol' failed) how Thomas Jefferson's LEGAL actions compare to Mr. Paterno's ILLEGAL actions? Can you please explain that one to me? I would be willing to bet you are right on board with our corrupt government giving ILLEGAL aliens FREE everything while the rest of us pay. Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence ? Here are some of them......................... Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died; Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned; Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army; another had two sons captured; Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War; They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. What kind of men were they? Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners; men of means, well educated, but they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.
Joe Blow July 17, 2012 at 02:04 AM
cont............ Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags. Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward. Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton. At the battle of Yorktown , Thomas Nelson, Jr., noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt. Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months. John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished.
bob July 17, 2012 at 03:41 AM
Siwanoy July 19, 2012 at 03:42 PM
"But the only reason this is an issue is because it was discovered. Had it not, no one would have thought any differently about Paterno or the painting. " The thing is tough, it WAS discovered, so it seems like a moot point to debate what would have happened had it not been discovered. I'm sure none of the people on the wall are perfect, however, only 1 is currently connected to a sex abuse scandal. I do understand the complexity of having certain criteria of who should or shouldn't be up on the wall... in some cases it may be arbitrary, in my opinion being connected to a child sex abuse scandal would fall under the criteria of things I wouldn't want on the wall... but then again, I can't sit here and list the criteria either for or against, fair or not, i'd take it on a case by case basis.. but certainly that would lead to some issues. At my alma matter we didn't have any quotes or profiles painted on the walls so we never came across this issue.


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