In what is believed to be a district first, a soccer coach and her assistant at South Side High School in Rockville Centre, N.Y., were not retained despite the approval of the Rockville Centre School District superintendent and athletic director.
Coaching positions are one-year terms, and must be applied for each year. Separate 3-2 votes dismissed Jennifer Abgarian, the Long Island girls' soccer Coach of the Year, and varsity assistant coach Chris Aloisi during a Board of Education meeting last week.
As reported by LIHerald.com, the decisions were met with widespread opposition, including claims that at least one school board member voted “no” because of a personal issue related to the soccer program dating back several years.
Abgarian guided South Side to the Nassau County Class A championship this spring after the season was postponed from last fall because of the coronavirus pandemic. It was her third season as the varsity head coach, and the first county title for the Cyclones since 2014. She was honored by the school board in June. Abgarian and Aloisi, who served as an unpaid volunteer last season, are both tenured teachers in the district.
A group of 12 parents of South Side soccer players immediately came to the defense of the coaches in a letter addressed to superintendent June Chang. The opening paragraph of the letter, obtained by the Herald, mentions Board of Education vice president Christine Ferazani by name and alleges “her clear partiality and obvious conflict of interest.”
Cammie Harloff, whose daughter Morgan is a rising sophomore on the team, told the Herald that she was a member of an Athletics Advisory Committee that worked on developing a new policy regarding coaching, tutoring and any conflicts of interest. She noted that the Board of Education approved the policy, and that all coaches applying for the upcoming school year adhered to it before being approved by Chang and Carol Roseto, the Rockville Centre School District’s director of physical education, health and athletics.
“I am concerned, as soccer seems to be the only team targeted, and the board provided no reason for its decision,” Harloff said. “Both coaches in question fully participated in the spring seasons, brought the girls to a victorious result and gave them an experience they’ll never forget.”