According to a report in TAPintoSOMA.net, former Columbia High School baseball coach Joe Fischetti and assistant coach Matthew Becht have filed a lawsuit against the South Orange-Maplewood School District claiming wrongful dismissal as well as asserting that they were victims of a “sham” investigation and “defamatory” allegations.
Read the full TAPintoSOMA report by Joe Strupp here.
In response to a request for response from Village Green, SOMSD Spokeswoman Suzanne Turner replied, “We cannot comment on pending litigation or the threat of litigation.”
The South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education voted unanimously in November 2016 to hire James Whalen, a physical education teacher at Valley View Middle School in Denville, as the new CHS baseball coach.
Fischetti, who continues as a tenured physical education teacher at CHS, had faced bullying allegations as baseball coach for two years prior to the vote. Though initially cleared of the charges, a separate independent HIB (Harassment Intimidation and Bullying) investigation ordered by Superintendent Dr. John Ramos found that Fischetti and assistant coach Matt Becht were guilty of two incidents of using “inappropriate language” in the 2014 season.
The HIB investigations drew strong and divided responses from the community, with many players turning out to support Fischetti and Becht at Board of Education meetings, while one player filed a suit against the coaches and the district.
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