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Preliminary injunction allows Lawrence Smith to continue coaching Dunbar football

Dunbar football coach Lawrence Smith returned to the practice field a week ago.
Dunbar football coach Lawrence Smith returned to the practice field a week ago. (Amy Davis, Baltimore Sun)

Lawrence Smith will continue to coach Dunbar's football team for the duration of his appeal of a one-year suspension over an alleged hazing incident in the school's locker room last fall.

On Oct. 20, a 10-day restraining order was granted allowing Smith back on the field with the Poets. Friday, he received a preliminary injunction allowing him to continue to coach at least until his appeal is resolved.

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"The city school system and the School Board signed and consented to the preliminary injunction which continues the temporary restraining order lifting the suspension and halting the School Board proceedings for the duration of the litigation," Smith's attorney Kathleen Cahill said in an email.

Baltimore City Schools officials had no comment, issuing a statement saying it is their practice "not to comment on ongoing litigation."

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Smith, who returned to coach the Poets to a 44-7 Homecoming win over National Academy Foundation on Friday night, had been suspended since June for not supervising the locker room the day of the alleged hazing incident, the details of which have not been released.

Smith filed a motion two weeks ago for the restraining order, alleging that Baltimore City Schools officials did not handle his case in a legal or prompt manner and that it might not be resolved until after football season.

Also the Poets' softball coach and their Special Olympics bocce ball coach, Smith said he could not comment on the case, but he was thrilled to be back on the sidelines for Friday night's Homecoming game.

"It was magical," Smith said. "It was like the first time I ever coached. I can put that up there with the first game I ever coached against Gwynn Park in 2007. It was a lot of nerves and things like that to be back out there like the first time I ever did it."

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The Poets lost their first two games under interim coach Michael Carter, their defensive coordinator, but they have rebounded to win six straight heading into Friday night's showdown with undefeated Edmondson for the Ben Eaton Memorial Trophy.

The trophy, named for the late Poets' football coach who died just before the 2007 season, spent the past year at Edmondson thanks to the Red Storm's 14-0 win last season. That was the Red Storm's first win over Dunbar since 2006. Dunbar won the first six Ben Eaton trophy games.

Friday night's kickoff has been moved up to 5 p.m. at William F. "Sugar" Cain Field in East Baltimore.

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