Former Football Coach Files Suit Against School District

By on August 15, 2018

A lawyer representing Lou Racioppe, the former football coach at Verona High School, has filed a 10-count complaint against the Verona Board of Education and several individuals over the BOE’s decision to put him on administrative leave last fall.

The complaint, which was submitted to the Superior Court of New Jersey on August 14, was sent to by Gregory Mascera, a partner at Verona-based Bannon, Rawding, McDonald, & Mascera who is representing Racioppe. In addition to the BOE, the complaint also names Superintendent Dr. Rui Dionisio, BOE President John Quattrocchi, BOE member Michele Bernardino, and Josh Cogdill, the principal of VHS.

The 20-page document contends that the BOE failed to follow proper procedure in its investigation, and asserts that Racioppe was subject to defamation, the intentional infliction of emotional duress and age discrimination.

The BOE’s decision to place Racioppe on administrative leave in the middle of football season was the subject of several heated meetings last fall. As a result of what the BOE has only ever described as concerns over student safety brought by several parents last October, school administrators conducted an investigation. The BOE is responsible for school governance and its role in school personnel matters is limited to voting on resolutions to hire or fire employees. In Verona, athletic coaches are hired for only one sport and one season at a time. The BOE issued a statement on the investigation on November 4, which outlined the general process that was followed and summarized responses to a series of questions. Racioppe was not reinstated after the report was published and was not re-hired for the 2018 football season.

It is not clear why only two members of the BOE are named in the complaint or why it took so long for the complaint to be filed. All current sitting members were on the Board last year at the time of the investigation and Mascera was acting as Racioppe’s attorney last November. Bernardino and Quattrocchi have, however, just confirmed that they will be running for re-election.

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The complaint seeks unspecified damages.

Superintendent Dionisio said early this afternoon that he had not yet been apprised of the complaint.

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