OC School Board Votes No to Rehiring Girls Basketball Coach

The controversy over the coach’s contract divided the high school community.

By MADDY VITAL

The Ocean City Board of Education responded to allegations that high school girls basketball coach Michael Cappelletti mistreated his players by voting against his contract renewal.

Over several months, parents and some players attended Board of Education meetings asking that Cappelletti not be reappointed next season.

In a vote of 7-4 on Wednesday night, Board of Education members voted to not bring back the coach for next year’s season.

However, some board members supported the coach.

Board Vice President Joseph Clark, Dr. Charles Roche, Bill Holmes and Bill Sooy voted to renew the contract, School Business Administrator Tim Kelley confirmed in a phone interview Thursday.

The board tabled the vote to renew contracts for the assistant girls basketball coaches, Tim Kelley, who is not related to the business administrator, and Emily Gillian.

Thursday morning, some teachers and other supporters of Cappelletti held a gathering outside of the high school to protest the board’s decision not to renew his contract.

The business administrator noted that the gathering did not disrupt the school day.

The Board of Education members listen as some parents speak about the girls head basketball coach during the April 27 meeting.

Throughout the last few months, the Ocean City Education Association, (OCEA) the union representing teachers, has come out to meetings to show support for Cappelletti.

Ocean City Education Association President Paul Matusz said in a statement Thursday, “The teachers and coaches of Ocean City stand in unity because we expect that if we do our jobs well, we shouldn’t lose our jobs. Mike Cappelletti won Press of Atlantic City Coach of the Year, an investigation into the allegations made against him found no evidence of wrongdoing, yet the Board of Education voted to go against the superintendent’s recommendation to keep him on as head coach.”

He continued, “We feel the entire process by the way this was allowed to play out in public, at board meetings, unfairly influenced members of the board and necessitated that they make a decision based on public opinion instead of adhering to the board’s adopted procedures for renewing coaches and the facts gathered from the investigation.”

Matusz noted in the statement that the OCEA is “very grateful for those board members who supported the process last night and for Dr. (Thomas) Baruffi’s diligence in investigating the matter. While our main priority as teachers will always be the health and well-being of our students, as an association we will always fight for our members’ rights, especially when we feel that those rights are infringed upon.”

Over the last few months, some parents have adamantly urged the board not to renew Cappelletti’s contract, saying that the coach bullied and harassed some of the players. Players also came out to meetings to oppose his contract renewal.

In April, one outspoken parent, Jill Adamson, urged the board not to renew Cappelletti’s contract to coach. Adamson is the mother of three girls. Her oldest daughter played basketball and Cappelletti was her coach.

“I stand here tonight to remind you that we are still here after several months, and we will remain committed to seeing that the best interests of the children are protected. Circumstances still remain hanging in the balance,” Adamson said during the April meeting.

The controversy has divided the community.

A tweet from Ocean City High School Football said, “An independent HIB investigation showed no evidence of bullying or harassing by the coach. He was recommended for rehire by the Super (Interim Superintendent Dr. Tom Baruffi) and AD (Athletic Director Geoff Haines). He was named Coach of the Year by the AC Press. But the BOE fired him because parents complained about playing time. Disgraceful…”

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