Revised Policy Forces Vice Principal to Drop Coaching Duties

Times are tough for high school coaches these days. Among the latest stories to surface is one that focuses on a school board policy revision in Clifton, N.J., which has resulted in the removal of Clifton High boys' soccer coach Joe Vespignani. Earlier this week, Vespignani - also the vice principal at Christopher Columbus Middle School - was told he is not allowed to both coach and hold an administrative position.

The revised policy of Clifton Public Schools states that administrators cannot receive pay for duties performed outside of their jobs, and it requires them to remain at their positions until 4 p.m., making it difficult or even impossible to coach athletic teams. (Teachers who coach are apparently not impacted.) As reported, "The Board of Education's policy change caught Vespignani like the innocent victim of a red-card-wielding referee."

When contacted by the Clifton Journal, Vespignani - who coached the 2010 soccer team to county and league championships while generating national respect during his nine-year tenure - referred "all matters of this nature to the Superintendent's Office."

The policy change, for which no reason was given in local media reports, also affected high school girls' track coach and guidance director Florence Calise. During 21 years at Clifton High, her teams sent several athletes to Division I and Ivy League schools. "I am disappointed in the change of policy, but the board of education has to do what it thinks is right," she said.

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