Fort Recovery Local Schools begins process to fire coaches accused of murder

Fort Recovery Local Schools will proceed with its process to fire the two high school softball coaches charged with murder in the slaying of an Indiana man over what detectives have said was a custody dispute.

RELATED: Hearing set for Fort Recovery coaches accused of murder

The district, on the advice of its legal counsel, is seeking to terminate the employment of head coach Esther Stephen, 31, and assistant coach Shelby Hiestand, 18. Both charged with one count of murder in the shooting of Shea Briar of Indiana.

Friday afternoon, the district issued a statement about the termination process and offered an update about the search for new softball coaches for the high school.

Under the terms of the firing, the superintendent will report to the state department of education the reasons for termination. The termination also will suspend the full amount of Stephen's and Hiestand's supplemental contract payments of $3,894 and $2,225 respectfully. Those amounts would have been paid at the conclusion of the softball season had the women coached the entire season.

The student-athletes on this year's softball team have met multiple times this week with the school counselor, the athletic director and the principal to share their thoughts.

Also this week, Fort Recovery High School administrators have been meeting with several individuals who want to coach the team.

"The focus of the school district is to find individuals who can provide the skills necessary to unify our players, parents and community around our softball team for the 2020 season," according to a statement from the district.

Meantime, the school is trying to return to some semblance of normalcy as the criminal case against Stephen and Hiestand moves through the Indiana court system.

Volunteer coaches will lead off-season conditioning activities for the softball players beginning Jan. 22, district officials said, and a team fundraising dinner scheduled for March 22 will occur as scheduled.

“It is also our hope that everyone will support the 2020 FRHS Softball Team by attending their games and events,” district officials said.

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