Coach K makes a written counter proposal to the P-R Administration and School Board:
Dear Board Members and School Administrators,
I am writing this letter because I am saddened at what has happened in our community and my role in it. While I am upset at how things were handled for my situation, that pales in comparison to what is now going on in the Pine-Richland community. There is plenty of blame to go around on why and how this situation began, but I am sorry for my role in it and I take accountability.
First, I believe that a significant causal factor in your collective decision to not renew my contract was my attitude and behavior during our meeting on March 29th. In hindsight I understand the significance of that meeting. The items we were discussing reflected poorly on myself and my staff and I was not able to properly control my negative emotions. My conduct was not close to the level of professional discourse I expect from myself - nor those I supervise in my education career. If a subordinate of mine would have acted similarly, I too would have drawn the same conclusions as you. I believe that my passion, productivity and perseverance serve a very useful purpose on and off the field, but my emotions sometimes get the better of me. I acutely recognize this now, and I am truly sorry for my behavior during the meetings. I apologize to each of you and especially Mrs. Bowman who's judgement I questioned directly. I will diligently work to improve in this area. Being aware of my emotions, and understanding how to control them is key to success.
Next, I would like to speak about issues with bullying, hazing, and locker room monitoring. While I cannot more strongly defend myself, my staff, and eight years worth of P-R football players against these allegations, I do realize that they are extremely important issues. I would like to be part of the solution to learn from this entire situation and raise awareness among students, staff and coaches at P-R and around the region. There are two things that I would like to concretely propose we collectively do.
The first is to develop and implement a formal locker room monitoring policy for all sports. To date in nearly all sports, either ad-hoc or no policy has been the norm. In my situation, had I or the district had a formal policy, it could have possibly prevented the incidents that led to the allegations you were presented with. Myself and my staff, in conjunction with school staff and other coaches will work together to create a formal framework for locker room monitoring. We will implement it for football with immediate effect, and can be used as a model for other sports. We will make the plan transparent and address students and parents concerns for privacy while maintaining appropriate oversight of students in locker room environments.
The policy will include both logistical issues (e.g., when the locker room is to be monitored) as well as procedural items such as what types of events can be handled on the field via traditional football discipline (e.g., running) and defining what must be reported to administration. In any case, I would propose that all incidents - including normal football issues - be reported immediately to administration so that we can develop mutual trust in this area - as well as narrow in on what rises to the level of administration intervention.
The second thing that I propose is that we work together to develop or identify an anti-hazing / anti-bullying program (sports-focused if possible) that each coach is required to complete before each season. This program would be parallel to the medical programs (Concussion, Sudden Cardiac Arrest, Heat) that all coaches take each year. In that way, on an annual basis all coaches can be refreshed on the signs of bullying/hazing, ways to prevent it, and how to handle it if coaches believe it is occurring. The plan must have student input and ownership as well. I propose that myself and my staff coordinate with other varsity P-R coaches to make the first attempt at creating the locker room monitoring plan as well as develop or identify an appropriate anti hazing/bullying program (e.g., with PA Coaches' Association). I will work with district staff to iterate on these programs until they are acceptable by the Administration.
Finally, I would like to propose a restart on our collective relationship - that is, between the school board and administration, myself, my staff, and the football community as a whole. I'm not expecting you to forget the words of myself and my staff, both in public and in private. Similarly, those in the football community have strong personal feelings about recent events. I give you my word that I will strive to heal all wounds, take ownership for the whole of the football program, abide by the Pine-Richland mission, vision and values, and operate with clear thinking moving forward. I believe clear thinking is one of the most important skills we have at our disposal to be successful. I will do everything in my power to encourage my staff and the football community to come together around a common goal--the safety and well being of the players on the team and those around them. I strongly believe we can be successful in this, as we all believe in the value and benefit of football to student-athletes both on and off the field.
Complete staff changeover as is being proposed now, or dragging the school, program or coaches through the mud is not something anyone wants. This may be the most difficult thing proposed here, but I believe it's worth doing. The current situation is horrible for all involved, but if we can come together for the common goal and use this as an opportunity to teach student-athletes how to overcome adversity together, this will be a life-lesson remembered for the rest of their lives
In closing, I again want to apologize for my role in this situation and specifically my behavior in our meeting. I am truly sorry. I want to work together with the administration and the school board to create an even better program that is at the forefront of anti-hazing and anti-bullying. We can use our stature earned on the field to lead the dialog off the field and in the community. In doing so, we will foster a program that fully embraces and abides by the mission, vision, and values of the district.
I ask that we sit down to a meeting to begin discussions for me and my staff returning for the 2021-22 football season. As the leader of your program, my vision is to reach our fullest potential in football and ultimately in life by creating an environment of excellence in everything we do - on and off the field.
Coach won't be back, says Superintendent, as per KDKA News
Brian Miller, superintendent of schools, Pine-Richland School District, sent the following letter to Pine-Richland families:
May 7, 2021
Dear Pine-Richland Families,
The Pine-Richland school district finds itself in an unfortunate situation that has divided our community due to a great deal of misinformation being spread and we would like to take a moment to set the record straight. Our community is hurting amidst a culture of fear in which many individuals are afraid to speak up for fear that they may be perceived as aligned with the district.
While the media and public discussion has focused on the findings related to hazing that Mr. Kasperowicz and his supporters have tried to minimize, there are other factors that are equally important reasons for the non-renewal of Eric Kasperowicz’s supplemental contract as the Pine-Richland Varsity Head Football Coach.
There is a history of a broad range of issues related to Mr. Kasperowicz and his responsibilities for program management and institutional control. Several areas of required development, including recruiting and failure to report serious matters when Mr. Kasperowicz became aware, resulted in disciplinary action that included placing Mr. Kasperowicz on a program of improvement.
During the interview with Mr. Kasperowicz and school administrators, we have an individual who refused to take responsibility and ownership for aspects of the football program. He deflected questions, minimized serious issues, pointed fingers at others, and at times acted in a combative manner in a 2.5-hour meeting with the administration. Later, he wrote in a letter to the board: “My conduct was not close to the level of professional discourse I expect from myself…if a subordinate of mine would have acted similarly, I too would have drawn the same conclusions as you.”
The culture of hazing and emotional and physical bullying and intimidation that arose in and around the football program, particularly in the locker room for years, cannot be minimized. They include acts of bullying, physical and emotional intimidation, humiliation and rites of passage that are unacceptable under any circumstance. Notably, Mr. Kasperowicz did not report these issues to the administration. In a Tribune-Review article, Mr. Kasperowicz said “I…want to unequivocally state that no bullying or hazing took place in the Pine-Richland football program under my watch,” then stated, “If I became aware of any such claims I met with the individuals and immediately put an end to it.” If he is referencing specific incidents, those incidents were not reported to school officials.
Given all information, it is important to note that 15 individuals - every administrator involved in the investigation and follow-up and every school board member - agreed not to renew Mr. Kasperowicz’s contract. Since that time, members of the board and administration have faced an increasing number of emails and messages designed to intimidate, which have become more and more threatening over time, driven by the ongoing public events orchestrated by Mr. Kasperowicz and a group of his supporters. These actions have placed student-athletes in the middle.
Pine-Richland School District is absolutely moving forward to hire a new coach and staff that reflects the mission, vision and values of the district and serves to strengthen institutional integrity. However, certain actions and behaviors in the community and outside the community are hampering our ability to hire a qualified coach. The new Pine-Richland coach will find full support from the administration and the board and will be afforded the opportunity to coach at a high-achieving school district with the resources necessary to succeed. The new coach will find incredible student-athletes and passion for the sport.
It is important for our community to come together in the days ahead as the misinformation has caused rifts between community members that must be mended. The Pine-Richland administration is committed to repairing relationships and moving forward. The Pine-Richland community is strong and we can and will move on from this difficult period. We look forward to achieving excellence with a focused school administration and school board, a talented faculty and staff, a dedicated student and parent population and a new football coaching staff. For many years, we have shared our belief that learning happens inside and outside the classroom. Athletics and activities provide a tremendous opportunity for student growth and are critical to our mission.
Brian R. Miller, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools