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Embattled Softball Coach Reinstated by School Board

Hillsborough Middle School Coach Richard Rosenblum reinstated after making his case at special meeting.

Embattled HMS Softball Coach Richard Rosenblum was reinstated after rebutting the school administration's statement of reasons leading to a move to replace him as head coach of the team. Credit: Courtesy of Caz Bielen
Embattled HMS Softball Coach Richard Rosenblum was reinstated after rebutting the school administration's statement of reasons leading to a move to replace him as head coach of the team. Credit: Courtesy of Caz Bielen
Hillsborough Middle School's championship softball team will again be coached by Rich Rosenblum, the nine-year coach who came under fire by supervisors in an effort to replace him on the team.

But after hearing his rebuttal to reports his staff and practices have been disorganized, and that he failed to demonstrate integrity, five members of the Board of Education voted to reinstate him as coach for the 2014 season at Monday's meeting.

Before Rosenblum addressed the board during a special meeting ahead of the board's regular meeting, Superintendent Jorden Schiff outlined the reasons why Rosenblum had not been recommended for reinstatement, noting a performance review by middle school Athletic Director Patrick Scarpello cited five areas in need of improvement.

"It is clear to me that Mr. Rosenblum has had a positive impact on many of his athletes and their families," Dr. Schiff said. "It is important that we find coaches who inspire their athletes and work well with administrators."

Rosenblum took the most issue with the questions about his willingness to work with administrators, providing emails and meeting summaries he said showed his willingness to work with Scarpello and school Principal Joseph Trybulski.

He said an email from Dr. Trybulski following a meeting in June to discuss Scarpello's concerns noted "Going forward, we all agree these matters have been resolved."

"Aren't you scratching your heads right now, like me, wondering where all this is coming from?" Rosenblum asked the board. 

He said he understands that as a new athletic director, Scarpello may "want to go in a new direction," but asked why it's necessary to "go to such lengths to discredit me" if that's the case.

He concluded his comments noting he understands administrators may not like some of their employees, but said they don't have the right to just remove people from positions if they are performing well "just because you don't like them."

"When I was asked and told by Dr. Trybulski and Mr. Scarpello, I immediately—immediately—changed and abided everything that was asked of me," he said.

As at the board meeting in October and November when the board considered resolutions naming new softball coaches, a group of parents and players spoke in support of Rosenblum, often citing and arguing against specific accusations made against him.

Parent Al Savarino said he was waiting to hear what the "big secret" was that led the board to repeatedly try to replace Rosenblum, hearing the case against him summarized in "six sentences" by Dr. Schiff.

"I find it a bit insulting that we've spent all this time here for six sentences," he said. "It really makes me doubt the decision-making process (that led to the decision)."

When the board discussed the resolution to appoint Rosenblum as coach later during the board's regular meeting, the "process" was what members considered, although with different views.

Board member Chris Pulsifer noted the board members should not consider whether they want Rosenblum as a coach, but rather if the administration followed the procedure in making its recommendation.

"Our job is to consider the process and procedure the administration went through," he said, adding the administration should be able to hire or not hire based on its employee review procedures. "Our only job is to determine how that was taken care of." 
  
Other board members agreed, but some felt as Jennifer Haley did when she said the process "kind of stinks."

"I think our job is to determine whether there was an issue in the process—and I think there was," board member Loraine Soisson said. "Our job is to determine if the burden of proof was met and I don't feel that it was."

Board member Judy Haas questioned why the district would rush to remove a nine-year coach even if one performance review revealed areas needing improvement, and recommended the board's Human Resource Committee consider setting guidelines for such cases.

Pulsifer and board President Thomas Kinst voted against reinstating Rosenblum, but the other five members present (Greg Gillette was absent) voted in favor.

The crowd cheered, with calls of "Thank you" and "You made a good decision" after the vote was announced.
Vinny Gotalot December 10, 2013 at 01:15 PM
SO the great minds of the BOE were going to get rid of a dedicated successful coach who focuses on education and athletics because some new AD did not get his way... Are we serious people. I would defend this coach and any other coach in court! So let me ask a question, why does the middle school have an AD? We lost so many good programs for the kids/players due to money issues so we hire some guy to be the AD. Lets look at firing him! Did he violate any so-called policies of the BOE? Did he fabricate any of his assessments in order to bring in one of his buddies that are collecting shopping carts at Walmart. Totally wrong approach! THANK YOU JEN AND JUDY for standing up for the Process! Pulsifer and Kinst are a joke! Your tax money at work people!
jimmy Burke December 11, 2013 at 08:56 AM
I guess my comment didn't make it.
jimmy Burke December 11, 2013 at 09:13 AM
This is not about hms AD. This is about someone above him being a BULLY! Like he has been since his time here. Coaches don't want to lose their job so they tow the line! And if you don't your out! Or a mediocre coach is hired without a strong personality! "As long as our kids come off the field with a smile on their face that's all that matters". Really? That's why kids jump ship and go to iMac and other schools. Why do we talk about kids bully kids but its ok to bully parents and coaches? Why doesn't the board focus on the real problem here??? What about a substitute teacher bullying students? Mediocrity should never be acceptable! How about teaching our Hillsborough youth and young adults to play with an ATTITUDE for once! This guy is a great coach he just didn't step in line! The two that voted against this should be voted out the next time. The board knows who the problem is and it will come out sooner or later. He doesn't care about our youth programs or who he hurts along the way with his threats and bully tactics! Finally one decision for the good guys. Bring back coaches like Paulino, Kyper, ,Otto, Rocky. These were leaders, great men, and they cared about our youth, and young adults. Not political crap or personal gain!
John Patten (Editor) December 11, 2013 at 09:13 AM
Jimmy- You might try reposting it. No comments from you on this article have been recorded in our system.
jimmy Burke December 11, 2013 at 09:34 AM
Thank you john
Jim VanDerveer December 11, 2013 at 11:15 AM
So, I'm a parent who, along with so many others, supported Coach Rosenblum throughout this process and am very pleased with the ultimate outcome. Everyone now needs to put this behind them and work together going forward to make sure the program continues to be successful and all future young ladies participating in it have the great experience many before them have. Honestly, going into this, I (and I believe others) was concerned the board was just "going through the motions" and the decision was a foregone conclusion. That obviously was not true. I'd like to thank the members of board for being respectful throughout this process, objectively and patiently listening, formulating their own opinions based on facts, and making a decision based on what they believed was right. Comments made by some of the board members during the discussion period were just awesome and inspiring. I'm glad my daughter was there to hear them. All that said, I hope the board looks into the current practices for performance assessments and resulting actions. It took a relative army behind Coach Rosenblum and a man/leader willing to take significant risk to facilitate change. I can't help but wonder how many good coaches/teachers have been lost without a fair opportunity to remediate issues prior to losing their position.
Ronald Gerwin December 11, 2013 at 11:45 AM
Politics as usual.

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