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Catanzaro Supporters Hijack School Board Meeting

A group of players, family and friends address the school board regarding the forced-resignation of long-time girl's basketball coach, Vince Catanzaro.

An emotionally charged group of residents hijacked the Upper Dublin School Board meeting on Monday night, in an effort to convince the board to reinstate long-time girl’s basketball coach, , who was forced to resign two weeks ago.

Supporters claim that the forced resignation came as a result of a complaint filed with the school board by a parent who witnessed Catanzaro yelling at a player. Despite recommendations to retain the coach by Upper Dublin Athletic Director Hope Donnell, Principal Charles Rittenhouse and Superintendent Michael Pladus, the school board declined to renew Catanzaro’s contract.

“I am -- to say the least -- appalled at his firing,” said Mary Cappelli, as she addressed the nine-member board. “I don’t get it. I thought there was a chain of command, but they went straight to the school board instead of through the proper channels.”

The initial public comment period of the meeting began around 8 p.m. with a stream of past-and-present players, friends, and family taking turns at the podium. The supporters , and condemned them for mistreating the winningest coach in school history.

“In this entire situation, I feel that the majority was slighted,” said Jen Meyers, a senior at UDHS. “It’s really a shame and it’s really unfair.”

The group also stated that if the board does not reverse their decision, they will continue to attend each meeting until Catanzaro is reinstated.

“This is only the tip of what is out there in the community,” said Joan Catanzaro-Melograna. “It’s going to grow. Every board meeting that goes by without reinstatement — this is going to grow bigger and bigger in support of Vincent.”

Catanzaro’s son, Vince Catanzaro, Jr., spoke of how the board’s decision could affect them come election time, adding that he’s grown tired of his pleas falling on deaf ears.

“You really need to think about this, because come election time, this is what we’re going to be thinking about,” said Catanzaro, Jr. “We’re not asking you anymore.  We are demanding that you reinstate him.”

The public comments concluded around 10 p.m., delaying the meeting for nearly two hours, but despite the threats, pleas and demands, the school board took no action on the matter. Superintendent Pladus explained that the board cannot comment on personnel matters, but he did say the board spent careful time reading every email and letter in support of Catanzaro.

“I have a high regard for Mr. Catanzaro, but I also have an extremely high regard for the nine people that serve of the board of school directors,” said Pladus.

As the group disbursed, a teary-eyed Jean Catanzaro said she was moved by so many people coming out to support her brother, and she pledged that the group will continue to speak at every upcoming school board meeting.

“I’m going to talk to everyone, but we’re coming back to the next board meeting in June,” said Jean. “I know that as time goes on, issues dwindle down to nothing, but we were taught to fight and stand up for one another, so we’re going to continue to do that.”

UDSportsfan May 15, 2012 at 06:53 PM
Keith you should do some real reporting instead of just replaying what Vince's family had to say. Word is this has been going on for several years with many complaints filed. The AD brushed it all under the rug with the administration's support. He was formally told not to do confront his players last year and did it again this year right infront of the school board members. Then the AD downplayed the incident. For a school board to cut the knees off of the adminsitrations there has to be much more to it. Stop listening to his family and accept that there is much more to the story. When people are out of control and are involved with kids you just can't let it continue. When the Administration does nothing it is good to know the School Board had the guts to step in and protect the players.
Keith Heffintrayer (Editor) May 15, 2012 at 07:14 PM
UDSportsfan: Thank you for your comment, and thank you for reading the Upper Dublin Patch. As I stated in the article, there was a mix of people who spoke at the meeting, including players, friends and family. At no point during the meeting did anyone speak in support of the school board's decision, and the school board themselves cannot comment on personnel matters. Had anyone said anything to support the board's decision, I would have gladly included it in my coverage.
penvssword May 15, 2012 at 07:59 PM
UDSportsfan are you a member of the board? Or a parent of a child who should reconsider competitve sports? If you were at the meeting and have heard the community, his family is not the only voice fighting to reinstate Vince. Looks like you need to do your own research....more importantly do your research in the sports community in upper dublin and the surrounding areas. I have been exposed to over 50 different sport coaches (being a player- probably more, just dont have the time for you to actually count) and have also had the opportunity to coach myself in various sports. WAKE UP - because Vince...till this day....was my most influencial coach..especially with regard to life lessons and friendships. He just happens to use basketball as his medium to teach. When a person signs up to be a "player" and a part of a team/family, they need to understand what they are signing up for....competitive sports is not synonymous with tea party. - MSchaffer
Dorothy Parker May 15, 2012 at 08:30 PM
Keith, The group of people who spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting did NOT 'hijack' the meeting. They spoke, as they are entitled to do, during this portion of the meeting. To call their input a 'hijacking', and then to further state that this group 'delayed the meeting for two hours' creates the impression that they did something wrong. They did not. I have no personal experience with this coach, and therefore no opinion on the merits of these comments. However, public comment opportunities at public meetings of public servants should be treasured and respected, and should not be described in negative terms by you or any other reporter. I respectfully request that you change your headline and your judgment in your article.
madMAX May 15, 2012 at 08:43 PM
As much as I support every persons right to have a voice in their government I encourage people to look into the whole story and not just assume that the people who are the loudest are the ones who are right. It's disappointing that people are immediately making decisions on a situation they do not know about.
Keith Heffintrayer (Editor) May 15, 2012 at 09:19 PM
Dorothy, "Hijack" is a meme, referring to one discussion being intentionally taken over by another. Considering that the topic of Vince Catanzaro was not on the agenda, the group essentially "hijacked" the meeting. It's just wordplay. The public comment portion went on for roughly two hours, which delayed the agenda portion of the meeting. There is nothing negative about that. It's simply abnormal. I wholeheartedly agree with you in regards to the importance of being able to speak at public meetings, and I believe the residents made the most of their opportunity last night.
UDSportsfan May 15, 2012 at 10:05 PM
Keith, You quoted the Superintendent as saying the board read every email and comment in favor of the coach so he did comment on the issue. Did you ask him if there were any emails in support of the board?? If not why not if not what did he say? You do know that Vinced offered to resign about 8 weeks ago. Go ask his sister why he offered to resign if he did nothing wrong. Sounds to me like he knew he was wrong. Again no school board would EVER cut their Superintendent off at the knees if there was nothing to this. You are naive to think otherwise. And to think one call to a board memeber was all it took to cause this to happen is just stupid. Quit making this out to be some plot from one parent. This is is many people complaining and a lot of proof to back it up.
Keith Heffintrayer (Editor) May 15, 2012 at 11:13 PM
UDSportsfan: It is not my place to take sides or debate this issue with you, as I'm simply reporting what happened last night at the meeting, what was said, and who said it. If you have proof that what was said last night was inaccurate, or you have someone that would like to go on the record and defend the boards decision, I would gladly listen and include it in my coverage. You can email me at keith.heffintrayer@patch.com, or you can reach me by phone at 215-284-3903.
Katelyn Comfort Johnson May 15, 2012 at 11:19 PM
Vince is a passionate coach and those that don't know him should not speak ill of him. There will always be parents that think their kids should play more or disagreements with how the coach does he job, but to remove a man like Coach Cat is sad. He has always had the team's best interest at heart and spends hours trying to make each player better. I may not know the whole story, but I do know the school board is not always right.
UDSportsfan May 16, 2012 at 01:58 AM
Keith you are only reporting the story the way you want to report it not the facts. To quote the Superintendent the way you did begged for a follow up question on if there were any supportive emails to the board. Either you didn't post the response or didn't want to know the answer. Either way poor reporting. But hey you got a nice headline. Why don't you call the Superintendent and ask him.
UDSportsfan May 16, 2012 at 02:06 AM
Penvssword I am not on the board. My kids played Division 1 sports. I started 2 very successful youth sports organization. Done lots of research and I know enough that for a school board to tell a Superintendent to take a hike on a coach issue there is a major issue with that coach. I don't even need to know the details to know this is a mess for the School Board that the administration created. Now the AD is out which is a good thing, can the principal be far behind. The Superintendent is already a lame duck. Is an out of control coach really what you think these kids are signing up to?
Kyle Bagenstose May 16, 2012 at 03:56 AM
UDSportsfan, Please reconsider your notion that Keith has some kind of agenda to push in his reporting, because it is inaccurate. Keith's reporting accurately portrays the meeting and dynamic of the situation: a coach's contract was not renewed, public commenters wanted to know why and believed there were special interests involved, and the board did not comment on the specifics of their decision. In addition, no one spoke in support of the board's decision. To say that Keith "did not want to know the answer," is silly. What if the answer was that no e-mails had been received in support of the board, does that make those supporting Catanzaro correct? The issue at hand is that the nature of any complaint or complaints that had been received are not being shared with the public. The board has every right to do so, but those supporting Catanzaro also have every right to ask for an explanation. In my opinion, that's the storyline here, and Keith has reported it accurately. [Full disclosure: I am a Patch editor who previously covered the girls' basketball team and am a distant relative of Catanzaro.]
Mary May 16, 2012 at 11:56 AM
The use of the word "hijack" does give the article a tone of commentary rather than simply reporting the 5 w's. When have you ever heard that word used in a positive light? It might be just "wordplay" to you, but I read it as a definite slant on how you feel about the issue. Seems like there should be more objectivity.
PittFan4ever May 16, 2012 at 12:28 PM
In my life i have seen some coaches who were way too "Rough" on the kids they were a coach too. I'm tired of seeing this. First and Foremost remember you are their "Coach" and not their legal guardian or parent to provide discipline in other words to tell a child that in order to play a sport or do better this and that is what you have to do is primarily what coaching is, but to sit and yell at a child because their peformance wasn't up to a coach's expectations, well unfortuantely that is not positive and you will get less and less from a child with this attitude. Its a shame that you have to go this route with a coach, yet in my opinion it's about time. I know one thing for sure and that is ANY child who thinks verbal abuse is "normal" especially at a young age will grow up to think that it is also acceptable in a home as well as in a college. I know this for a fact because I unfortunately had to experience it in my lifetime. My hope is that not only will parents learn that what is taught to a child is carried on later in life, but more importantly those who TEACH your children or Coach them to do their best to stray away from being negative instead of positive.
Lee May 16, 2012 at 01:28 PM
Having a tough coach and being yelled at is important for kids. They learn how to cope with tough situations, as they will face in life. Aren't kids today protected enuf already, they're not going to be able to handle basic adversity! Oye.
UDSportsfan May 16, 2012 at 02:37 PM
Kyle, Is everyone related to Vince?? The tone of the quote is slanted to the administration's decision. With no follow up looking for the other side then yes it looks like an agenda. It is a simple follow up question. If it is "silly" as you note because it does not matter then why print the quote you did? The comments for Vince are decreasing, people are probably getting the rest of the story.
Mary Keptke May 16, 2012 at 03:45 PM
So now we cannot yell at kids? These are kids, sometimes they need to be yelled at. WE ARE HURTING KIDS BY NOT YELLING AT THEM WHEN THEY DO SOMETHING WRONG! Kids need discipline. Kids crave discipline. We take away every tool a coach, teacher, or parent has to discipline kids. I know kids whose parents never yell at them or discipline them and they are the worst kind of kids who turn into the worst kind of adults. Coddled and indulged, they never learn to handle the adversity life will through at them. This is what I suggest. If you see a kid smoking, cursing, riding a bike without a helmet, bullying another child, cheating, throwing trash on the ground: yell at him or her. Even if it is someone else’s kid, and if their parents say something to you about yelling at “their kid”, say "You’re welcome, I just saved your child”
Peter May 16, 2012 at 06:14 PM
and there were latin kids! they're not going to cut the program! (but the basketball stuff was much more exciting..)
LancerRM May 16, 2012 at 07:37 PM
It would be nice if the parents and parents of the kids that spoke last night would come to a Board meeting and show at least some concern about other important things going on in the District, like skyrocketing school taxes. Do you have any idea how much taxes have gone up over the last 10years? Over 60%. I would love for the tax payers to show up and complain to the Board to control the District's costs, and vote them out if they don't. I hope the that Board has the guts to stand up to the teacher's union when their contract is up and say "enough is enough. If you don't like what we are offering then feel free to look for another job, since this is a free country." Also, the Patch reporter is at the meetings to report what happens at the meetings, NOT to ask questions. UDSportsfan, did you ask the Board or Dr. Pladus at the meeting if they received any correspondence from anybody supporting the firing of the coach? Just curious...
madMAX May 16, 2012 at 08:07 PM
Yelling at kids when they do something wrong ("smoking, cursing, riding a bike without a helmet, bullying another child, cheating, throwing trash on the ground") is totally different then the appropriate behavior expected from school coaches and employees. I've coached youth teams for years and of course you yell and scream when you get caught of in the game but there is a line that can not be crossed. These high school players are not paid to play basketball, they are teenage kids. Most have been playing since they were little and know that a coach will yell after a bad play or a tough loss. But what is not okay is coaches yelling at a player after the game in front of parents and friends or saying things that are not related to the game that makes these young girls feel bad.
john u. dublin May 16, 2012 at 08:26 PM
Child abuse is not acceptable and I applaud those members of the board who put children first. The coach is question crossed the line. He was warned and snubbed his nose at his bosses. He was warned again. He did not change. He resigned twice. (Yes, he resigned- he was not fired) The parents defending the former coach are willing to stick to the known for fear of the unknown. I hope they come back to the board and admit they were wrong next January when they have a good coach who does not treat them like they enrolled in basic training. Please move on to important topics!
LancerRM May 16, 2012 at 09:03 PM
Child abuse seems like a stretch, but I am certainly curious about all of the documented complaints about the coach. I don't know the coach so I'm not trying to defend him in any way. More important things would be the financial problems that the Board thinks that they can make go away every year by raising taxes. The tax payers should hold all of the current Board members accountable.
Nina Renner May 17, 2012 at 01:30 AM
UDSportsfan, I think you got it..not! The only part of your story that is true is that the "'word' is that this has been going on for several years. That is all it is..the "word". First you need to get a grip because your story is all over the place. Second, think before you write anything. Your comments are so far from the truth it is sickening. The three individuals involved on behalf of the administration for this issue at hand would not risk their reputation and career for Vince if it was not the best choice for the school and the players. However, it is the best choice to keep Vince on as head coach and this is why all three of them have a mutual agreement. You have confabulated this story in your mind and your imagination has really gotten the best of you, if there is a "best" at all. It is common sense. The board pre-formulated their decision before the majority had its four minutes to speak. Do you actually think that the board was going to come back and admit that they made the wrong decision based off of ONE parent's complaint. Honestly, I do not think that the board thought it would turn out to be this big and close of an issue for some people. Now that it is, they are in to deep and must stay committed to their decision. This is why the administration was told to take a hike. The board does not realize that they would actually gain back some respect from their colleagues and community by reinstating Vince.
Nina Renner May 17, 2012 at 01:54 AM
To clear the slate, Vince was never told not to confront his players. Again, think about what you write before your write it. If you are the coach, you need that communication with your team. Each player should be able to hear what their strengths are and what their weaknesses are. Yes, I said weakness! All athletes have weaknesses. If a coach was not there to tell you what it was, one would never be able to excel in the sport. Moreover, you want to talk about confronting people. Vince has been an advocate for each of players as needed. Everyone has a lot to say about Vince but cannot seem to say anything about the complaining parents and the way they are constantly pressuring their kids at home or the moment they leave the gym and get into the car. That must be the longest ride home for those girls. To be more specific, the ONE parent who made the ONE complaint about Vince is always on his daughter's back about scoring 1,000 points and how she needs to play for herself in order to get a scholarship. By the way, nobody knows Vince better than his family. Do not discourage people to listen to them because they know the TRUE story...not just the "word". You are like the serpent that encouraged Eve to eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. Your false statements will take you far from the garden.
Nina Renner May 17, 2012 at 02:57 AM
PittFan4ever, Apparently, you have not taken the time to read the articles that have been posted. It is typical to try and off-set the people who love Vince and know what is really going on. Your comment is all about being positive and meeting the coach's expectations. Wow! Why did current players and past players (even from ten years ago) take the time to voice their opinion about how great Vince is as a person and as a coach. You are ranting and raving about being yelled at and these girls having a bad attitude about life. I am not sure what happened to you, but I assure you that these girls have been voicing the exact opposite of your opinion. I am sorry that you had a terrible experience with your coach/parent, which ever you are referring to, but there is and was no verbal abuse. You even mentioning such allegations is harsh and I would reconsider what you say next. The girls have spoken and have made it clear that the board's decision is appalling. Again, if you knew what was really going on, you would know that Vince is on the girls side just as they are on his side.
Nina Renner May 17, 2012 at 03:43 AM
Child abuse is too broad of a term to be using for this situation with Vince Catanzaro. In fact, it is not correct at all. If Vince was defiant and did not listen to the warning you speak of, then why would the administration back him even after the board made their decision? People with a reputation and a career, especially in the education field, do not vouch for those who are not worthy. How does someone resign twice? If I knew that a parent utilized his friendships and bragged about it throughout the basketball circuit to have me ousted as the head coach, I would have resigned too. There will be no apologies made to the board. Maybe, the board will grow a back bone, fix what is now broken, apologize to Vince Catanzaro and his players for putting them through this trying time. For your information, basic training is not what it used to be. It is a cake walk compared to BDU days. Those of you who are opposing Vince Catanzaro be reinstated...put your name up on the board so we can see just who you really are. All of your statements and "words" are useless and have no truth unless you are willing to stand behind what you say with your name. Let's not be like the Pennlive.com cowards who like to use screen names as their guard. If you want to voice your opinions then list who you are. Better yet, why don't you show up at the next board meeting so people can see you and challenge you.
Peter May 18, 2012 at 02:47 AM
or you could move to another district with lower taxes if you don't value public education as much as the rest of the community (this is a free country)
RightofAttilatheHun May 19, 2012 at 04:38 PM
"Protect the players..." Really. I was at the meeting and most of the team was there and begged the board to recind its terrible and misguided decision. I didn't see the former UDSB member there who has a family member on the team and is one (perhaps the only) complaintent to the current board defending publically his outrageous and politically correct comments. Is that complainer "UDsportsfan" by any chance? Poor little girls being yelled out by a coach - their delicate psyches will be destroyed forever by this bad man---Oh, the shame of it all!

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