North Syracuse Dismayed. Angered. Hurt.
Those three words describe the emotions of more than 100 residents, athletes and parents in the North Syracuse Central School District as they abruptly left Monday night’s Board of Education meeting after hearing 10 people speak proudly of their time under the wings of Kerry Bennett, who was fired Aug. 17, and being told by President Pat Carbone the board will not be revisiting its decision.
Bennett’s position was called into question following the July 9 testimony of C-NS graduate Brittany Paul and her father, Jeff, in regard to alleged incidents involving harassment and forms of bullying by teammates and coaches. Though regularly situated at first base, Brittany Paul was moved to the outfield in order for coaches to prepare another player to cover first as Paul had previously made comments about attending the C-NS Senior Ball instead of the New York State Class AA championships scheduled for the same day, June 9.
According to assistant coach Rick Gigliotti, Brittany Paul made a decision to leave the softball team prior to the championship and instead attend the ball.
“The ball was not to be discussed,” Gigliotti said, adding Bennett had instructed the team stay focused on the task at hand — bringing home the championship title. “Practices were business as usual.”
Retired English teacher and former junior varsity softball coach Bill Bradley told the board they had committed “an egregious error” by firing Bennett, and while the board does not engage in dialogue with the audience, he asked the members several questions. Who investigated the allegations? Were players interviewed? How did the board vote?
“We deserve to know how you made the decision,” he said.
Bradley commented that Bennett is not capable of committing the misdeeds he has been charged with and asked for his record to be cleared.