CITY OF NEWBURGH — Former Newburgh Free Academy boys basketball coach Frank Dinnocenzio will be recommended to the Board of Education Tuesday to return to lead the program.
Superintendent Roberto Padilla confirmed Friday that he will support a district hiring committee’s decision to select Dinnocenzio, who was the head coach during the school’s class-cutting scandal during the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons, as the top candidate of three applicants, including recent coach Matt Brown. The school board is expected to vote on the recommendation Tuesday following a public forum.
The Times Herald-Record reported Newburgh’s six most prominent players from the 2009-10 season accumulated a combined 1,187 class cuts through the first three quarters of the school year. Class-cutting was also prominent during the Goldbacks’ 2008-09 state championship title run.
Dinnocenzio has denied knowing anything about his players skipping school.
“The report that we reviewed cleared him,” said Padilla, who was not superintendent at the time of the scandal. “We have a process in place. The committee chose him. We reviewed what took place back then and he’s been coaching in our district the entire time.”
Dinnocenzio has served as an assistant coach in football, girls basketball and boys lacrosse at Newburgh since the school board denied previous athletic director Jack Mager’s recommendation for him to coach the boys basketball team for the 2011-12 season.
“It's not that I don't get that it's a concern for people,” Padilla said of the potential rehiring of Dinnocenzio. “I'm fully aware of that and people have made me aware of that. They have called, emailed and come and sat down to make me aware of that and equally I have had the same amount of people, if not more, come and share their support.”
Padilla said measures have been put in place since the scandal to prevent it from happening again. He said the district added an assistant athletic director and two attendance aides assigned to the athletic department.
“(They) are responsible daily for going and checking and connecting with students and making sure they are where they are supposed to be and they are excelling in the classroom,” Padilla said.
After a first round of interviews with Dinnocenzio, Brown and jayvee coach Shawn Coffey, the head coaching position was advertised again on Sept. 21.
Brown had led Newburgh to the Section 9 Class AA playoffs in six of his seven seasons. Brown previously said his teams have met attendance and grade requirements set by the school board since his appointment. He established a tutoring program for his players. The basketball team has a 98 percent graduation rate during Brown’s seven years, he has said.
The school board’s vote will come less than a month before Newburgh opens preseason practice on Nov. 5. Padilla said athletic director Edgar Glascott recently supervised an open gym for the basketball team at the high school.