It takes a lot to get people out of their homes on a frigid January evening. But out of their homes they went on Tuesday night, Jan. 7, with the goal of speaking their minds to the Londonderry School Board about the removal of Londonderry High School football coach Jon Rich for reasons unknown.
They were met with a stern admonishment that they would have just 15 minutes total to talk, but were eventually given close to 45 minutes. The meeting, of course, is the school board’s, and it was definitely not a public hearing. But the school board made the right choice in giving additional time to their constituents – although they didn’t win any points by calling for police officers to be stationed at the meeting
Person after person – former LHS football players now in college, parents, other coaches – were at the meeting to show solidarity with Rich, who was told in early December that he would not be coaching football next fall.
Rich said he was notified that the decision was made by Superintendent Nathan Greenberg, and Greenberg has said repeatedly that it was his decision to release Rich, who is also a teacher at LHS. Greenberg called him “a good teacher, and well liked.”
Nevertheless, some continue to see at least one school board member at work behind the scenes, and think “politics” are involved. And school officials should know that speculation and rumor run rampant whenever the facts remain hidden.
This year’s football squad experienced injuries and ended up 4-6. Nevertheless, LHS athletic director Howard Sobolov, who was an assistant coach under Rich, said this past season was a “solid one, in light of the fact that there were injuries to key players and some young guys were forced into the lineup ahead of schedule. The players accepted the challenge, didn’t feel sorry for themselves and worked hard.”
Rich’s first two seasons – out of six – as coach were his most successful statistically. But is having a sub-.500 team a reason to pull a coach? Who can say, when the facts aren’t known.
There’s a reason Rich was removed. Rich told our reporter that he would give permission for the school board to discuss that publicly, although no official asked him about his wishes for public discussion. Right now, the board is within its rights not to air “personnel matters” in public.
The school board and Greenberg say the decision is final. But that leaves a cloud over Rich’s head as to why he lost his “dream job.”
We favor a public explanation, instead of leaving those who paid Rich’s coaching salary to stew in the dark.