VCSD objects to Baron’s request for documents related to investigation of player bullying

NEW SCOTLAND — It will be two years in November since Robert Baron resigned as head coach of the Voorheesville girls’ varsity basketball coach; November will also mark 20 months since Baron filed his lawsuit against the Voorheesville Central School District for what he says was a fraudulent inducement of his resignation.

And now, Baron’s lawyers are hoping to receive this month an explanation for why they can’t see documents they asked for in February — and in June, July, and September. 

 The district has objected to his lawyers’ request for “all documents, communications, records, reports, memoranda, meeting notes, meeting minutes, meeting agendas, and other writings pertaining to the investigation into complaints of bullying of certain players on the Team during the 2017-2018 season and school year.”

The fall 2018 investigation by the district concluded that no bullying had taken place. Baron had resigned from his position the year before, in November 2017. 

In a June 2018 affidavit, Baron stated that it had been reported to him that two players had been bullying other players on the girls’ varsity basketball team, which by that time was being coached by Andrew Karins. 

An unredacted version of Baron’s personnel file revealed for the first time that the two players accused of bullying their teammates were also the same players who had been the “primary complainants against him” in November 2017, according to Baron’s latest court filing.

The two players graduated from Voorheesville in June 2018.

The district has called the demand to produce any such records “vague, ambiguous, overbroad, and … not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.”

Further, the district objects to the demand because, it says, Baron’s lawyers are seeking information that postdates Baron’s resignation. Baron’s lawyer, Harold Gordon, in court documents, argues this is “specious reasoning.”

“The information sought relates to Baron’s separation from employment, and such information is solely within the possession of the District, which should not be able to use such information as a shield and a sword,” Gordon writes.

The court papers state that, in addition to several of the bullying allegations relating to or referencing Baron directly, some of the alleged bullying took place during Baron’s tenure as varsity girls’ basketball coach. 

Bullying examples cited in the court documents include the placement of a sign on the lawn at the home of a player and parents supportive of Baron which said, “F*** Baron.” 

“Further, during their respective depositions,” the court papers say, the two players accused of bullying — who were also the primary complainants against Baron — “admitted to the existence of a doll which upon information and belief had been characterized as a ‘voodoo’ doll of Baron by several Team players. 

“Upon information and belief, the doll was used as an effigy of Baron to mock him in front of other Team players throughout the season.”

The court papers also say that one or both of the players accused of bullying on “repeated occasions” while in the presence of other players said to Karins, “in actual words or substance”: “Be careful, or we’ll get you fired too.” 

Karins stepped down as the head coach of the girls’ varsity basketball team in September 2018 after he had led the team to the Section II, Class B championship earlier that year. Karins was appointed head coach of modified girls’ volleyball during the same school-board meeting in which his resignation as the girls’ basketball coach was accepted. 

“The player bullying complaint and investigation was directly related to, involved and concerned the ouster of Baron,” court papers say.

The district is expected to respond to the most recent request for documents related to its investigation of players’ complaints of bullying by mid-October, according to court papers. 

More New Scotland News

The Altamont Enterprise is focused on hyper-local, high-quality journalism. We produce free election guides, curate readers' opinion pieces, and engage with important local issues. Subscriptions open full access to our work and make it possible.