Parents and area residents packed the house at the latest New Rochelle School Board meeting to show their support for suspended head football coach Lou DiRienzo.
The New Rochelle School District announced that the popular coach was being unexpectedly ousted late on Wednesday, Nov. 13, saying that DiRienzo had been “reassigned from his teaching and coaching responsibilities.”
A video of the near three-and-a-half-hour meeting can be found here .
At the Tuesday, Nov. 19 Board meeting, supporters of DiRienzo showed up to Daniel Webster Elementary School with signs and signs saying “WE SUPPORT COACH D,” while calling for the resignation of new Schools Superintendent Laura Feijóo.
“New Rochelle has a very serious problem. The problem plaguing this community is this board,” one speaker said. “The breakdown of professional boundaries is the result of the tyrannical leadership of this board.
"The arbitrary and capricious manner with which important policies are altogether upheld and others are held up with an iron fist is a result of the tyrannical leadership of this board.”
Feijóo had few answers for the community, simply saying early in the meeting that the investigation is ongoing and has not been completed.
No additional information was provided, much to the chagrin of the raucous crowd, which nearly forced an abrupt end to the meeting, according to the superintendent.
Other speakers included DiRienzo’s sister, Sister Joan DiRienzo, a principal at a Catholic school in Brooklyn, former players, parents, and prominent community members, many of whom called for Feijóo - who only came to the district earlier this year - to resign from her position less than a month into her tenure.
It is unclear if DiRienzo will be on the sideline this weekend in New Rochelle’s state semifinal playoff game against Shenendehowa High School in Middletown on Saturday, Nov. 16.
An online petition calling for the “reinstatement of Coach D immediately” garnered more than 9,000 signatures in just a few days.
“The New Rochelle High School Football Parents Association demand that you restore Coach Louis DiRienzo to his teaching and head football coaching responsibilities at New Rochelle High School immediately,” organizers of the petition wrote. “There’s no legitimate basis for continuing to deprive our students and community of his leadership skills and talents, on and off the field.
“We are sorely disappointed by your extreme, reckless mishandling of a situation that required nothing more than a discussion. Every minute that goes by without returning Coach DiRienzo to work exacerbates the damage you have caused to the coach, the students, and the community. The mental anguish you are putting our student-athletes through before the state playoff game is unacceptable! “
According to the New Rochelle Football Parent Association, DiRienzo “helped a student in distress to leave school with her parent.” The organization has also called for the resignation of Feijóo.
“Instead of quietly investigating the issue, as has forever been the practice at NRHS, Superintendent Feijóo chose to defame our coach and suspend him from teaching and coaching — and announce that fact to the world as though he was a criminal," the association said.
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