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Thursday, March 15, 2018: NYSUT questioning Section 1 suspensions

   Leading off today: I would imagine Section 1 executives will ignore the editorial by The Journal News. Given their general lack of responsiveness to the media on recent issues, that's sort of a given.

   On the other hand, good luck shunning the New York State United Teachers. The difference between pit bulls and NYSUT is that pit bulls eventually let go.

   NYSUT, a conglomeration of more than 1,200 local unions including the United Federation of Teachers (which represents well over 100,000 teachers and other school employees in New York City alone), has chimed in on the suspension of a pair of Section 1 boys basketball coaches handed down by Section 1.

   In a letter dated Monday, the organization called for an investigation into the suspension of coaches Anthony Nicodemo of Yonkers Saunders and Chris DiCintio of Somers over a clerical error ahead of a charity basketball game to promote LGBTQ awareness their teams played this season.

   In the letter to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, NYSUT is asking whether discrimination and homophobia were behind the disciplinary action.

   "It is outrageous -- and contrary to the lessons of fairness and sportsmanship that educators stress every day -- for Section One Executive Director Jen Simmons to, more than one month later, suspend Nicodemo and DiCintio for what appears to be an inadvertent clerical error not of their own making," the letter signed by NYSUT President Andy Pallotta states. "It raises serious questions about whether their punishment was discriminatory in nature. As the state sanctioning body for high school sports, the NYS Public High School Athletic Association should support community-wide events that celebrate diversity and inclusion and raise money for volunteer groups that fight discrimination."

   Meanwhile, Thursday's editorial by The Journal News was its latest to assail the lack of transparency by Section 1, calling it a "secretive clique."

   The lengthy editorial concludes:

   "What is going on here? The superintendents, principals and athletic directors affiliated with Section 1 should be embarrassed by a series of decisions that have infuriated the prep sports community and beyond. Section 1's dreadful communications practices and willful opposition to transparency is impossible to understand. This region is known for progressive education and, during these difficult times, sports should be one area where we showcase our best. It's time for educators to step in and fix Section 1."

   An interesting question: This thought came along the other night from the New York State Sportswriters Association's Steve Grandin:

   If the Cambridge girls basketball team wins the NYSPHSAA Class C championship this weekend, will Helen Mooney be the first New York athlete to win both a girls and boys state championship in the same school year?

   Mooney was the second-team all-state kicker for Cambridge's state Class D championship football team in the fall.

   Tennessee changing: The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association's Legislative Council has unanimously approved a total public-private split 21 years after the athletic association created a separate division for schools that offer need-based financial aid.


   The proposal -- brought forward by a Memphis private school -- goes into effect during the 2019-20 school year.

   Public and private schools are permitted to play each other in the regular season, but would be split in postseason play.

   "It's been a work in progress for 20 years," TSSAA Executive Director Bernard Childress said. "I think it is (easier to do it now)."

   School slated to close: Families of students at Bishop McGann-Mercy High School in Riverhead are organizing to ask Bishop John Barres to reconsider this week's diocesan decision to close the school this spring.

   "We would be willing to do anything to keep our school open," said Donna Stumbo, whose daughter is president of the freshman class. She said parents are willing to pay higher tuition, organize fundraising drives and do anything else the diocese asks.

   The diocese took over in 2001 and provided $16.3 million in subsidies from 2007 through the last school year, a spokesman said. It was on track to require another $2.3 million this school year. McGann-Mercy has a total current enrollment of 365 students in grades 7 to 12.

   "We recognize the pain and disruption this decision causes for our school families," said, Sean Dolan, a spokesman for the Diocese of Rockville Centre. "Unfortunately, due to a steady and dramatic decline in current and projected enrollment, coupled with the significant and increasing need to subsidize the school, we are no longer able to sustain Bishop McGann-Mercy High School."

   Only 55 students were registered for the incoming freshman class, compared with the 91 expected to graduate in June.

   The diocese is offering displaced students placement at St. John the Baptist Diocesan, about 40 miles away, as well as transportation. The other diocesan high school is Holy Trinity in Hicksville.

   When school begins in September, there will be nine Catholic high schools on Long Island, including those run by religious orders.

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