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Athletic Director ‘Destroying’ Track Program, Parent Says

Wife of former Montville coach asks BOE to let her keep her own coaching job.

A little more than a month after the Montville school board approved a replacement coach for former Montville Township High School assistant track coach Anthony SanFilippo, his wife, Kristen SanFilippo, pleaded with the board not to replace her as well Tuesday night.

“I am here tonight to tell you why I should not be let go,” she told the board of education.

But the board voted to approve a new coach despite SanFilippo’s, and a few students’ requests. Board members were not able to comment on the personnel issue, according to the board attorney, however, Superintendent Dr. Paul Fried confirmed that the appointments of all of the new coaches were recommended through the appropriate process.

SanFilippo had been an assistant track coach for the winter and spring programs for the past three years. Her husband was also an assistant track coach at the high school for the past seven years.

SanFilippo said she was told in October that her coaching contract would not be renewed because an in-district employee was interested and qualified for the position. While she disputed the fact that her replacement was qualified, SanFilippo said she was not left with enough time to find a new position.

“I was left with no opportunity to find another coaching job and to make matters more unprofessional, I was fired via e-mail,” she said.

A few students spoke in favor of Kristen SanFilippo at the meeting, including one who said “she lifted me up as an athlete.”

“I could tell she has an amazing relationship with all of her athletes,” he said.

District parent Sylvie Debourmont spoke against the high school athletic director, Paul Pignatello, before all meeting attendees were cautioned by Board President Dr. Karen Cortellino that any defamatory remarks could be used by the person whom they are about in legal actions.

“This man is destroying the entire track program,” Debourmont said.

Debourmont said Kristen SanFilippo coached her daughter and helped her make it fairly far in the sport. She said the coach taught the kids life skills more than just athletic technique. Debourmont referenced the non-rehiring of Anthony SanFilippo and said she is confused by the board’s actions in not rehiring who she believes to be “good people.”

“I don’t understand why, always, when we have good people in place in this district, they are dismissed for no reason,” she said.

But Cheryl Manfra, another district parent, said there are always reasons someone is not rehired and that the decision likely did not solely rest in the hands of the high school athletic director but that decisions like these “are, in fact, blessed by people higher than the administrator of athletics.” Manfra defended Pignatello, who was not present, and said she feels the athletic programs have increased in quality during Pignatello’s tenure with the district.

“We are in a much better place, athletically, than we were three years ago,” she said.

A Disgusted Montville Parent October 17, 2012 at 12:02 PM
SHAME ON THE MONTVILLE BOARD OF EDUCATION!!!! Many students came out last night to support their beloved coach. The are not receivng any information from the school district as to why their coaches, under whom they are flourishing as athletes, are being removed. So they come to the Board meeting to show their support and follow the correct procedure and wait an hour and a half on a school night (when they also have athletics and homework) to try and be a part of the process. Then after hearing from only two students, they cut the discussion because there is dissension amongst the parents who speak. There were several students there who took the time to prepare written statements that they wanted to read and they were dismissed without a voice. What a way to teach our children to believe in the system and that their voice makes a difference!
Maxim Sapozhnikov October 17, 2012 at 12:52 PM
I don't pretend to know the respective qualities of both coaches, or any details of the employment circumstances, but out of curiosity - can someone enlighten me how the Board explained the non-renewal?
Ariana Cohn-Sheehan (Editor) October 17, 2012 at 01:19 PM
Max, the board attorney said board members are not legally able to commet on the issue because it is a "personnel issue."
Rosie October 17, 2012 at 01:50 PM
What a bunch of crap!!!!! I have lived in this town for many, many years and I have never experienced such a sham. The Athletic Director is the one who should be fired. I do not even know him but just reading about this new non-renewal item and what happened with her husband makes me feel as if it is a vendetta against this couple. Why oesn't the BOE listen to the students. They know best. They love these two assistant coaches and will definitely tell the truth about them. The Diector of Athletics is trying to get "his own" people in these positions by hurting two two people. Disgusting to say the least. I was always proud of Montville and their school system. NOW not at all!!!! I cannot believe that the people of Montville are not rebelling in protest of all of this. The students should boycott the sport programs and the parents should go along with it. If not, this will continue and continue. I have said my piece and I will leave it as this. Totally disgusted with Montville and the BOE. Maybe we should begin replacing them.
Pollyanna October 17, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Lightbulb Moment: The coach in question filed a grievance against the Athletic Supervisor. No administrator or Board member saw this as a red light...I find it hard to believe, that no one questioned why BOTH, well respected coaches, who had the full support of the head coach, were dismissed. Could it be there is an adgenda. Could this be in retribution for coming forward with a grievance? Moral: Never cross the Athletic Supervisor!!! The process is.....The Athletic Supervisor makes the coaching recommendations, the superintendent generally rubber stamps those recommendation, and the Board, thereafter, approves. I doubt there is too much discussion, since the Board members have little knowledge of every sport or every coach at the high school, therefore, the Athletic Supervisor's recommendations stand. My concern is why, in this particular instance, no one questioned why two top notch coaches, who have outstanding evaluations from the previous athletic director, who are supported by the head coach, student athletes and parents, and who have been a major part of the success of the Montville tract program, are not being recommended for rehiring. Fact To Be Noted: The current Athletic Supervior does not even have the proper certification needed to be an Athletic DIRECTOR. (The Board members saw fit to change the job description, which had been in place, to accommodate Mr. Pignatello's placement as Athletic SUPERVISOR - Why??) Question, Questions!!!!
maxwell kennedith October 17, 2012 at 05:17 PM
I think it's time to have the athletic director's performance reviewed by the school population via the survey we get every year from the superintendent. I have heard other programs and participants are dissatisifed also.
Annunciata Kirk October 17, 2012 at 05:37 PM
As usual who will pay the ultimate price???? student athletes! Why? because the adults in power on the BOE have no ethic. All they care about is the district "window dressing" . They keep glorifying themselves while shoving under the rug the real problems. One day people are going to be so enraged it will backfire...Those people are supposed to serve the community not their inadequate friends holding key positions!!!
art daughtry October 18, 2012 at 12:14 AM
Mr. Pignatello is the real problem here. Unfortunately when personal issues arise, with no previous history, the BoE will almost always side the supervisor. Hence if this was the first time this type of situation occurred with the athletic director recommending to the BoE terminating a coach or subordinate I could understand the position of the BoE. However there is much history with this individual that clearly indicates he has little or no human relations skills or proper knowledge of how to document poor or sub standard performance. Bottom line if the athletic director had any issue with any coach or subordinate it should have been documented with reviews with specific examples of poor performance. If that occurred over the course of one year and the athletic director built a case then so be it, the director had just cause to recommend non-renewal. I believe that has not been taking place. I do not know the folks involved in this particular situation, however I do know and respect others that were involved with the athletic director. Knowing these other folks there is just cause to take a hard look at the athletic director and his motives.
Montville327 October 18, 2012 at 01:31 AM
It's amazing how sickening this all is. Poor Coach Kristen was railroaded last night by a Board that couldn't care less about her or the student athletes who supported her. When public participation was cut off before all those kids could read their statements, I knew exactly where we all stood. How does one file an affirmative action complaint and then get fired?
Disgusted Parent October 18, 2012 at 12:11 PM
I can think of another beloved track coach that people came out in droves to support. That story wasn't what it seemed either. The Board of Education chooses to sit in silence claiming they can't discuss issues when they know every detail. Then they allow one of their administrators to be publicly disgraced all in the name of privacy! Shame on your Dr. Fried I am glad your not my boss!
Montville327 October 18, 2012 at 12:19 PM
Did you really just compare a woman who lost her job because of retaliation to a guy who's in prison? That's as low and pathetic as it gets. And sure parents came out to support him, YET HE STAYED SILENT!!!! Now who's staying silent? Have you heard one word from the AD since this all started, cause no track parents have.
Tom October 24, 2012 at 03:56 AM
how does the pig still have a job? It's as if he's trying to get anger as many people as possible
Disillusioned dissident October 24, 2012 at 12:58 PM
"Cheryl Manfra, another district parent, said there are always reasons someone is not rehired and that the decision likely did not solely rest in the hands of the high school athletic director but that decisions like these “are, in fact, blessed by people higher than the administrator of athletics.” Cheryl Manfra was secretly sent by The pig because he is so embarrassed by his shameful acts he wouldnt dare show his face - FACT The board of education is standing Idly by while the AD destorys our schools athletics. How many track athletes have transferred already because they hired coaches with ZERO experience who arent even teachers at montville. How is our football program doing? I hope everyone remembers this when it comes time to vote for the board of education. All of this has been politics at the expense of the kids. NO ONE THINKS ABOUT THE KIDS. Excuse me while i go vomit now.
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