Voorheesville girls’ varsity basketball coach resigns

VOORHEESVILLE — The silence spoke volumes.

Tucked inside a list of personnel items approved and accepted by the Voorheesville School Board at its September meeting was the resignation of Andrew Karins, the head coach of the girls’ varsity basketball team.

This is the second time within the year that the team is without a head coach as Robert Baron resigned last November and is now suing the district for his job back.

Karins had led the team to the Section II, Class B championship this past season.

At the meeting, Doreen Saia, the board’s president, asked her fellow trustees to read through the 14 recommended personnel items and offer comment.

In that uneasy pause, as board members read, Superintendent Brian Hunt pointed out that the district has a new bus driver.

After further bus-driver small talk, Cynthia Monaghan, the board’s vice president, said it was great that two graduates from Voorheesville were coming back as unpaid advisors to the high school’s robotics club, and was thrilled by the addition of girls’ tennis for this year.

Subject 5.2 Personnel Items passed unanimously with no mention of Karins.

The reason given for the resignation: Personal.

No replacement was named.

Also tucked into the list of personnel items, was the Step 8 appointment of a modified girls’ volleyball coach: Andrew Karins, who has never coached modified girls’ volleyball.

Karins did not return a call seeking comment before press time.

Step 8 is the highest paying step — excluding longevity pay — on the coaching salary schedule of the agreement between the district and the Voorheesville Teachers’ Association. Karins — who works for the district as a teacher of health and physical education — is due to make $2,048 this year as the modified girls’ volleyball coach, a sport that is played in the fall.

In November 2017, Karins told The Enterprise that he had coached girls’ junior varsity basketball, a winter sport, for five years; boys’ junior varsity basketball for three years; and freshman boys’ basketball for two years. Including this year as varsity coach, Karins has coached basketball, in Voorheesville, for 11 years.

He was hired as girls’ varsity basketball coach, in November 2017, at Step 8. He made $4,310 last season, according to the union contract.

The pay step at which a coach is hired is at the sole discretion of the superintendent. “It’s in our contract,” Hunt told The Enterprise in a follow-up interview.

Hunt was asked if coaches who have no experience coaching the sport for which they are hired are typically paid at the highest step.

“Well, it depends on what their experiences are overall in athletics, and their qualifications,” Hunt answered.

Less than a year ago, in November 2017, the board accepted the resignation of then girls’ varsity coach, Robert Baron.

The reason given: Personal.

The school board appointed Karins, then girls’ junior-varsity coach, as head coach.

Baron, in March, filed a lawsuit claiming the district fraudulently induced him to resign as the longtime head coach of the girls’ varsity basketball team. The suit seeks Baron’s reinstatement as coach as well as payment for lost wages and damage to his reputation.

Bullying allegations

In an affidavit filed on June 14, Baron included, for the first time, emails that were sent to Superintendent Brian Hunt and Athletic Director Joseph Sapienza from the parent of a basketball player who claimed that bullying of some players by others on the team was rampant.

At the Sept. 17 meeting, Hunt and Saia were asked by The Enterprise, if Coach Karins had been asked to resign because of the bullying allegations, and was told by Hunt: “We don’t discuss personnel.”

Baron, in his affidavit, stated that it had been reported to him that two players had bullied other players on the girls’ varsity basketball team, and, in some cases, he alleged, because players expressed support of him.

In an undated email to Hunt from the father of one of the players, the father wrote that he “saw a number of troubling issues that arose during this past girls basketball season.”

The father told Hunt in the email that he wanted to schedule a private meeting with Hunt, Sapienza, and five or six parents of students on the basketball team. The father also asked that several school board members participate as well.

A May 18 follow-up email from the father to Hunt and Saia included a petition signed by 15 parents that asked for Baron to be reinstated as coach for the 2018-19 season.

The father also referenced a meeting that took place on April 27, writing: “It troubles many of us that the bullying that we discussed at our meeting continues to run rampant. In fact, the very afternoon we had our ‘private’ meeting, several of our daughters began receiving texts about it. What has the district done to investigate it? Would it be possible to discuss?”

On May 21, Sapienza emailed the father to ask specifically what was texted or said to [name blacked out in court papers] following the April 27 meeting.

On May 22, the father responded that he was reluctant to continue “as information seems to be leaking from your organization.”

The father reiterated what he had written to Hunt, that after the April 27 meeting, “many of our girls were bombarded with communications from [named blacked out in court papers] and [name blacked out in court papers].

The father wrote that the entire point of the April 27 meeting was to protect the girls from harassment, which he said continued after he sent Hunt the email on May 18.


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