Question 9 of 20 for 2020 NRBOE Candidates: Coach D?

Written By: Robert Cox
  1. There was a great deal of controversy earlier this school year regarding former head football Coach Lou DeRienzo. What are your thoughts on the matter?

Adina Berrios Brooks: While much of this situation remains unknown, procedural due process is a cornerstone of the district’s relationships at the employee and student body levels. We must provide strict guidelines for any situations that may arise, and enforce them with both firmness and sensitivity towards all those affected. It was unfortunate that the handling of the situation led to even more division in our community.

Katie Castellano Minaya: Many of the facts of the case remain private, and appropriately so. Moreover, adhering to procedures and due process is a legal mandate and necessary to ensure the rights of all concerned.

Barbara D’Alois: I absolutely understand the need for confidentiality when dealing with a personnel issue, however, this was not just any situation. Did people think that no one would notice when Coach D was reassigned pending an investigation? If this were just any teacher, in any school, questions might not have been asked for a few days. This situation occurred in the weeks leading up to the State Finals. Someone was going to notice!!! If nothing was said about the reassignment, it would have been looked at as a cover-up. Due to the confidentiality, I am not sure about the events that led to this situation, however, we cannot “look the other way” when students, administrators, teachers or staff do not comply with stated rules and policies. This was a very difficult situation and obviously, there were no winners here. It’s that simple.

Christopher Daniello:Did not answer.

Stephen A. DiDonato: Lou DiRienzo was trying to protect a family member. There are a lot of people who would not think twice about family first. He was a very highly respected, accomplished and influential member of the district for decades. Yet there must have been some policy that he violated. So I do understand how a decision may have been unavoidable.I do think that it could have been handled better. Fortunately , this issue has been laid to rest. I do hope that there are things that we can all learn from it.

Sharon D. Footes: No comment.

Matthew T. Hirschman: While the end of the public story saw a state championship, it divided the community and turned it on its head. Dr. Feijoo and Amy Moselhi demonstrated a disregard for what they allowed to spiral out of control and turn New Rochelle High School into a national headline.

Michael Leone: As a Board member, two of the roles are to hire and oversee the Superintendent and to set policy, not to investigate allegations of errant employees or to discipline them. Investigation and discipline belong to someone in Administration. My role would be to question: Did the Board have a policy which would have covered the handling of Coach DeRienzo’s situation? If yes, then we must ask whether the policy was followed. If not, then the Board must develop a policy to fill the void or revise a flawed policy. If investigation and discipline fall to the Superintendent, then my role is to question: Did the Superintendent follow school policies? If yes, then the results may be unfortunate, but they were justified. If not, then the Board must deal with the Superintendent.

Timothy McKnight: I am a New Rochelle Huguenot, born and raised in New Rochelle. I know Coach DiRienzo and I have seen the amazing work he has done for our community. I do not know the specifics of what happened, but I do know that the way it was handled was wrong and a man’s name and reputation became public to the entire state. This should have remained an in-­house disciplinary action that did not deserve the media attention it received.

Mario A. Scarano: This incident is by far the most telling on how out of touch this board is with the New Rochelle community who entrusted them with their vote. Throughout the process I couldn’t understand how the superintendent could take an incident that should have been handled internally by Coach DiRienzo’s supervisor and the high school principal, then blow it up into a national disgrace. Dr. Feijoo and the board’s leadership blew it so out of proportion that it only added another stain to a once outstanding national reputation. Having hired and then supervised Coach DiRienzo for a number of years I had the pleasure of seeing the interaction he had with his students which was amazing. I only wished that the rest of my staff could connect with their students like Coach D did. To have a 30 year reputation destroyed by Dr. Feijoo and the BOE is nothing less than a crime and those responsible should be held accountable their actions or lack thereof.

Julia Taylor: As a former athletic director, I fully understand the process and procedures when dealing with a private legal matter which the district was not allowed to comment on.

Donald Vega: I know this was highly controversial because the coach was great and loved. I don’t know all the information surrounding this case because some of it is confidential. What I will say is that the superintendent & board didn’t handle it well and it was done without at least listening to the greater community, even if you still must reassign the coach. It then reduces the confidence going forward. If you can’t say why, then at least let people get their thoughts off their chest.

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