Shen fires Don Paretta

A motion to fire Donald Paretta for lacking a coaching certification was passed unanimously at a Tuesday, April 7, meeting of the Shenendehowa School District Board of Education, despite a strong show of public support for the embattled part-time high school track coach.

Stevan Pupovac, a 2004 Shen graduate and athlete, called Paretta a father figure, saying Paretta taught him how to drive and golfed with him occasionally. Pupovac said the track coach strove "not only to make people better athletes, but better people."

A plea to the board by Doug Shartrand, area lawyer and vice president of the Shenendehowa Track Booster Club, to invite Paretta back to the school as volunteer coach, was met with applause.

"I understand what the board has to do in this matter," he said to the board. "But the next decision you should make is to ask Don Paretta to come back as a volunteer coach. ... Even if you have to accept the fact that he cannot have a teaching certificate or a coaching certificate, you should immediately ask him back to be a volunteer coach for these kids."

"I think that they have made a decision, and now they're just trying to justify it," said David Ehrlich, Paretta's lawyer, in an interview prior to the board's decision. He noted that Paretta was never convicted of a crime and said that a teaching certification is not a requirement for a coach.

"I have never sought to be employed as a teacher here, or anywhere else," Paretta told the board at the April 7 meeting. "At the time that I began coaching at Shenendahowa, I did not need a coaching certificate to coach. Shenendahowa never notified me that I needed to obtain additional certification, and I did not know that it was necessary. I continued to coach without incident."

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