By MADDY VITALE
Michael Cappelletti, the women’s basketball coach at Ocean City High School, has been accused of abusing his players. Parents and some of the players have attended recent school board meetings to demand that he not be reappointed next season.
On Wednesday night, members of the Board of Education listened again, as parents demanded he not be brought back for another season.
“I’m here to support the basketball players of Ocean City. We all know that three female college students came to this council for help and both times nothing was done,” said Joe Monteleone, whose daughter played in the team.
Monteleone said the administration did nothing to help the girls.
“I (you) ask to stop undermining these girls,” he said.
He described Cappelletti coaching “like a bully” and “with harassment”.
“I respectfully request that his contract not be renewed,” Monteleone said.
For the past two months, Cappelletti has had support from the Ocean City Education Association, the union representing teachers. Some of the members were present for Wednesday’s meeting. They weren’t talking, but were standing together at the back of the meeting room.
Prior to public comments, Board of Education Chairman Dr. Patrick Kane delivered a few words.
“I want to thank everyone for coming to the meetings,” he said. “I want to recognize that sometimes there can be sensitive topics.”
Members of the Board of Education said they were listening to both sides in this difficult situation.
“I want to acknowledge your bravery,” board member Jacqueline McAlister told speakers. “I want everyone to understand that we take this very seriously as community volunteers. Pain is not unknown and we are doing our best for everyone involved.
Ocean City resident Jill Adamson is a mother of three daughters. His eldest daughter played basketball and Cappelletti was her coach.
Adamson, who publicly voiced her concerns at the board meeting last month, said she returned to continue reminding the board that he should not continue coaching.
“I stand here tonight to remind you that we are still here after many months, and we will remain committed to ensuring that the best interests of the children are protected. The circumstances remain unresolved,” she said. .
Adamson said she was sure others would come forward.
“I know there are others who would like to speak out but fear retaliation,” she said.
She ended her remarks by saying, “We all have times when we don’t live up to our principles. Humility is how quickly you recognize it, and integrity is how strong you work to rectify it.
Adamson’s father, Dennis Mullen, a former longtime member of the Ocean City school board, told the board he needed to act.
“I never put anything before kids,” Mullen said. “You are the guardians of the town’s children. If the children are threatened, you must stand up. Look at the. Investigate it.
Like McAlister, Board of Education member Cecelia Gallelli-Keyes said the board is listening.
“It’s very trying for me and hopefully I speak for everyone. Hopefully there will be a peaceful conclusion,” Gallelli-Keyes said. “We are listening to both sides.”
In other areas, the board announced that the district is much closer to hiring a new superintendent of schools.
For months, the members of the Board of Education who make up the superintendent’s research committee worked with Strategic Educational Advantage, or SEA, an outside contractor who was hired to help with the research. They worked together to find the best candidate for the top job.
A new superintendent will fill the vacancy created by the retirement last year of former superintendent of schools, Dr. Kathleen Taylor. Dr. Tom Baruffi is the acting superintendent.
Interviews with candidates began at the end of March.
The goal was to announce the new superintendent at Wednesday’s meeting.
But Dr Kane said the board was ‘too optimistic’ about securing the new superintendent’s contract.
“It’s not going to happen tonight,” he said. “I would expect a special meeting in a week or two so we can move forward.”
He explained the process that led to the selection.
SEA developed a profile of what the district was looking for in a superintendent and that was turned into an ad.
“We had a fantastic response. We had 50 applicants and we had three separate rounds of interviews ranging from 10 to five to three (applicants),” Dr Kane said. “We have a candidate who we think is fantastic.”
Over the past year, to help determine which qualities were important to stakeholders, SEA held meetings with various groups of parents, teachers, students, union representatives and community members at course of the last few months.
Additionally, surveys were made available to anyone who wanted to give their opinion on what they thought was important to whoever will lead the district schools.