Reassigned New Rochelle High School football coach to miss 2nd playoff game

NEW ROCHELLE, Westchester County (WABC) -- The Westchester County high school football coach and teacher who was reassigned pending an investigation will miss his second playoff game this weekend, as parents and students continue to show support for him.

On Friday, members of the New Rochelle teachers union and parents of high school students converged on City Hall and the superintendent's office protesting the punishment levied against Louis DiRienzo.

He was taken off the sidelines ahead of the undefeated and No. 2 ranked Hugunots playoff run in their quest to repeat as Section I/Class A champions, and the superintendent won't meet with DiRienzo until Monday -- meaning assistant coaches will continue to run the team during a semifinal game this weekend.

"Justice delayed is justice denied," New Rochelle Federation of United School Employees (FUSE) President Martin Daly said. "Coach Lou is having his hearing on Monday. Is should have been this week so he could get back and coach the boys who are waiting for him."

In a statement, school officials say "such a protest is unproductive and in no way contributes to the situation in a positive manner."
The team defeated Utica Proctor last Saturday without DiRienzo.

Superintendent Dr. Laura Feijoo says the president of the teacher union will also be at the meeting.

The school board re-assigned DiRienzo while it investigates him for an incident involving a student.

District officials would not comment on the circumstances of the investigation, but parents say that it involved a student who is DiRienzo's relative and who was impaired in some way at school.

DiRienzo contacted that person's father, the parents say, and allowed them to leave the school rather than face discipline -- an apparent violation of school protocol.

The decision has been met with major backlash from players, students and the football parents association, and it has included protests and walkouts.

FUSE released the following statement regarding the matter:

"FUSE has been made aware of the ongoing nature of our investigation on many occasions. It is also aware the district cannot disclose information due to the legal obligation to maintain confidentiality. Investigations like this cannot be completed until all the facts are gathered and appropriate legal advice has been provided to the board and superintendent.

Staff members involved in such situations are always given an opportunity to be heard after the relevant facts are gathered, and this current investigation is no different. The appropriate representatives of Coach DiRienzo, including the union president, are aware we are scheduled to speak with him Monday. In our view, any protest by FUSE asserting due process is in some way not being provided for all involved is misguided and not supported by facts. FUSE must know that such actions are not going to deter the district from addressing this matter in the appropriate way. Such a protest is unproductive and in no way contributes to the situation in a positive manner.

Further, rescheduling students' after-school activities so teachers can attend an unproductive protest does not serve our children. Nonetheless, we look forward to working with FUSE on addressing the challenges and opportunities of students, staff, and families in our district."

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