HAYWARD (CBS SF) — Some parents in the East Bay were furious Wednesday after former 49ers defensive end Ray McDonald was invited to speak to Hayward high school students about self-control, despite the fact that he is facing rape charges.
McDonald played for the 49ers, but was fired two years ago after numerous run-ins with the law. He is supposed to go on trial next month for sexual assault.
McDonald was also accused of domestic violence, but was never charged in that case.
Among the questions many parents of students at Tennyson High School in Hayward were asking: Is Ray McDonald a good role model and should be teaching kids about self-control?
The school district was scrambling Wednesday to explain the decision.
The former 49er was all smiles in pictures with students and teachers at Tennyson High posted on social media.
But not all parents were feeling that way after the former pro player’s appearance.
“Make us feel angry,” said Tennyson High parent Eduardo Orozco. “Make us feel disappointed.”
The Niners cut the star defensive lineman because of his many run-ins with the law including accusations of domestic violence and raping a woman who was drunk.
That rape trial is scheduled to start next month.
Tennyson High invited McDonald a few weeks ago to talk to 250 at-risk kids about self-discipline.
“Arrested many times; he hasn’t learned from his mistakes,” said Tennyson High senior Ivett Garcia. “I think the district messed up by having a guy come talk about self-discipline when he has no self-discipline himself.”
A few parents even fired off an angry letter to the district.
“Just looking at Mr. McDonald’s record, it’s all about violence against women. It’s definitely not a positive message,” said Orozco.
But student Marcel Foster said McDonald did a great job inspiring everyone.
“He was telling us how just try your hardest whatever you do, always give your best and just stay dedicated,” explained Foster.
The student said he was thankful he had a chance to meet and speak with McDonald one-on-one.
“People make mistakes, we’re all human,” said Foster. “And I think, even if he made that mistake, him coming here and like trying to help us out and give us knowledge, that’s not something for the parents to be upset with.”
The district superintendent declined to talk on camera, but sent out a letter to parents Wednesday, admitting McDonald wasn’t the best choice and apologizing to any offended parents.