Wrestling Coach Suspended For District Policy Violation

At the January 17, 2012 Board of Education (BOE) meeting which took place at the Robert Gordon Elementary School, Board Superintendent Patrick Spagnoletti started his report by having Roselle Park High School (RPHS) principal Sarah Costa run a video during a brief recess. With the lights out, wrestling coach John Ranieri, who could not attend due to an away wrestling match at David Brearley High School, read from a statement. An excerpt of a majority of his statement is quoted below:

“The purpose of my statements today is to address a situation that occurred on Friday with the wrestling staff. In hindsight, I should have been clear in conveying to Coach Frost the Prinicipal’s directive to have Coach Frost clean up his Facebook.  I have taken steps to ensure that this is now the practice of all Wrestling Coaches to not have their personal Facebook accounts linked as friends to current students.

I agree with the administration that no coach should post publicly any comments that may be intimidating to others. I believe this was never Coach Frosts’ intentions. In addition, I respect the administration’s decision to sanction any employee who violates this district policy. I assure you that as head coach I will continue to be proactive when it comes to me, my staff, and my athletes; setting themselves apart as positive role models, whenever on the mat or in the classroom.”

After the video, the Superintendent stated that wrestling coach Craig Frost wanted to address the Board and those in attendance.

“I would like to take this opportunity to apologize for the situation that occurred on Friday,” coach Frost stated while he stood before the Board, “I have now been educated on the policy set forth by the Board Of Education pertaining to social networking and bullying and I clearly understand them. I take my role as a coach and mentor in the district very seriously and I am proud to call myself a Panther. Going forward, it is my continued intention to always be a positive role model in the Roselle Park community and in the lives of the student athletes with whom I work. Thank you for your consideration.”

Superintendent Spagnoletti then thanked both coaches Ranieri and Frost for addressing the Board in public. Although no mention was made of what specifically transpired on January 13th, the superintendent continued, “As a district, we believe that open, accurate, and direct communication between all parties is essential when it comes to maintaining the safety and well-being of students and staff. Occasionally, communications break down. At best when that happens, misunderstandings occur; [at] worst, students misinterpret messages sent from adults who are viewed as role models. The Board and administration welcomes coach Ranieri’s and Frost’s renewed commitment to ensuring the safety and security of all Roselle Park students and that that remains their number one priority.”

The meeting proceeded with the rest of its agenda but the matter was revisited during a closed session that night by way of ‘Co-Curricular Employment Action’. After returning from closed session the BOE moved to rescind, upon the recommendation of the Superintendent, the termination of Craig Frost – volunteer wrestling coach – and to instead place him on suspension from Friday, January 13, 2012 through and including Thursday, January 19, 2012.

With that, the matter was officially closed and the meeting adjourned.

A video of Coach Ranieri’s statement is provided below: