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Shaw High School marching band director says unfair disciplinary action from new leadership led to resignation

Donshon Wilson worked for Shaw High School for 24 years. He says he was unfairly targeted with frivolous disciplinary action by new leadership.

EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio — If you don't know about the world-renowned Mighty Shaw High School Marching Cardinal Band, they are unbelievably talented. They also just lost their leader. 

Donshon Wilson has led Shaw's band to over 250 first-place titles and worldwide performances during his time as their director, and changed the lives of countless students in his 24 years as an administrator at the school. 

Wilson resigned Tuesday after he says he endured nine months of unfair disciplinary actions by school administrators - namely Dr. Henry Pettigrew.
Pettigrew was commissioned by the Ohio Department of Education’s Academic Distress Committee (ADC) back in 2019 to try and improve East Cleveland's failing schools, which had received an "F" in overall academics three years in a row. 

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Wilson says, instead of helping East Cleveland schools succeed, Pettigrew began a campaign of disciplinary action against Wilson, that started with accusations about money Wilson says he didn't spend.

"I was brought in the office because it was assumed that I had spent $80,000 on our new newsroom that we were trying to build for our students. I had nothing to do with that, although it was our room. The next one was about, he wanted some CEO directives from communications. He said I didn't complete those directives. I did," said Wilson.

Wilson says he has no idea why Pettigrew, he feels, targeted him. The former band director also says he has not had a single disciplinary incident in his over two-decade history at Shaw High School. Since Pettigrew was instated, he has had multiple. 

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The district released the following statement after Wilson had announced his resignation: 

The East Cleveland City School District announces that Mr. Donshon Wilson has resigned as the director of communications and technology and the director of The Mighty Shaw High School Cardinal Marching Band. Mr. Wilson, a member of the Shaw High School Class of 1988, officially assumed the mantle of director in 2004 though his work with the Battle of the Bands dates back to 1999.

During his tenure with the band spanning more than two decades, the marching band received local, state, national, and even international acclaim performing at such venues as the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, the 2006 All American Army High School Football Game in San Antonio, annual appearances at the Mardi Gras Krewes Festival in New Orleans, the 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers Championship parade, and countless other events in northeastern Ohio. Under Mr. Wilson’s leadership, the Mighty Shaw Cardinal Marching Band has earned more than 250 first place honors in local and national marching band competitions.

The district wishes Mr. Wilson the very best in his future endeavors. The road he paved and the examples he set will live on among the band for years to come. Mr. Donshon Wilson epitomizes the very best of what the Mighty Shaw Cardinal Marching Band has to offer. Once a Cardinal...always a Cardinal; you are Shaw High School, you are the definition of success.

Students, former faculty and parents are demanding answers from the district and the ADC and a protest is planned at Shaw High School for Monday, June 28th.

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