Roanoke County School Board member discusses Torrence investigation
ROANOKE COUNTY (WSLS 10) - We're learning Roanoke County Police are involved in an investigation into former Northside Football Coach Burt Torrence.
At a school board meeting last night, Torrence admitted that for the last four years he's been taking a stipend for coaching track, work he wasn't doing.
Roanoke County Spokesperson Amy Whittaker confirmed the police department's involvement, saying "There is a police investigation involving Mr. Torrence and questions concerning funds. Roanoke County Police have been asked to investigate and are doing so. No additional information will be released at this time."
In addition to a police investigation, the school system launched its own investigation back in February.
In a candid interview Friday, Northside School Board Representative Tom McCracken said he expected coach Torrence to eventually tell the community about the issue, but doing so at the school board meeting Thursday night came as a surprise.
"He spoke out to the parents Sunday, he spoke out to the students Monday, and then of course he addressed it, that was the first thing he addressed at the meeting last night. I was not prepared for him to say what he said," said McCracken.
To say in front of the community and the media he had been taking money for four years of work he never did.
McCracken says there is a school system investigation ongoing and it is clear that Torrence was only one part of a larger issue at Northside.
"It's an exhaustive investigation from an outside group, so it's non-biased, and they're investigating a lot of different things, and that was just one of the pieces of the puzzle," said McCracken.
Without getting into specifics of the investigation, he says that "puzzle" will likely implicate wrong doing from more people.
"This Burt Torrence issue, it's not isolated, I mean there have been things going on at Northside High School, several that have concerned parents," said McCracken.
Things McCracken says the board members are just becoming fully aware of, but as that investigation continues, McCracken says his focus is on responding to his community.
"Social media, in person, emails, I'm getting visits, I'm having people stop their car and come out and talk to me. There's a lot of people passionate on both sides of this issue. Some are saying we need to get rid of him and some are saying we need to keep him, and there's no real middle ground that I've seen, either you're really passionate on one side or the other and so they're looking to the School Board who ultimately makes the decision who stays who goes, but at this point, we don't have enough information," said McCracken.
McCracken says in the middle of this controversy is Burt Torrence, a man many in the community never thought they'd need to question.
"He's touched a lot of lives. All of my kids have gone through Northside, my wife works there, she's worked with him for years. He's done a lot of great things so that's what makes this very difficult," said McCracken.
Mccracken says once the results of that investigation become available, he plans to host a community meeting to be transparent with everyone.
He also plans to host a prayer vigil for the Northside community this Sunday, dealing with the fallout from Torrence, and the two shooting threats the school has been locked down for this year.
That will be hosted outside Northside High School at 2 o'clock.
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