Pine-Richland responds to claims student was used as ‘scapegoat’ to fire football coach

GISBSONIA, Pa. — The Pine-Richland School District has responded to claims a student was used as a “scapegoat” to fire football coach Eric Kasperowicz.

Attorney Joel Sansone, who is representing Vince Cruz and his family, told Channel 11 Wednesday the school district used Cruz’s son to fire Kasperowicz and his entire staff. Sansone said this was a power play by superintendent Dr. Brian Miller to get rid of a popular coach.

>>RELATED STORY: Pine-Richland says firing of coach came after monthslong investigation

Cruz’s attorney is firing back after the district’s news conference earlier this week, when the district said last week’s firing was a result of a three-month investigation into allegations of misconduct within the football program.

“Over a period of three months, an investigation was conducted into specific allegations of inappropriate student “Over a period of three months, an investigation was conducted into specific allegations of inappropriate student conduct and a broader allegation of misconduct within the football program, including, but not limited to hazing, bullying, intimidation and ‘rites of passage,’” a statement from the Pine-Richland School board of directors said.

Sansone said the administration is “lying” and “there was no bullying that rose to the level of accusing this coach of “wrongdoing.”

Rachel Hathhorn, Pine-Richland School District’s director of communications, issued a statement Thursday morning in response to Cruz’s attorney:

“There is absolutely no truth to allegations that the Pine-Richland School District, its School Board, staff or anyone acting on its behalf at any time leaked information, “scapegoated” any student, implicated or identified any student to anyone in any part of its investigation into the allegations of student misconduct and overall misconduct within the football program as it relates to the District’s decision not to renew the Head Football Coaching Supplemental Contract of Eric Kasperowicz.

“The decision not to offer Coach Kasperowicz a 2021-2022 supplemental contract was based upon: (1) findings from a three-month investigation; (2) documented football program-related events over multiple years during the Coach’s tenure with the program, and (3) the in-depth interview itself that was held with Coach Kasperowicz. These areas were outlined in a letter to Coach Kasperowicz that he is able to share.

“The District has been, and remains, observant and vigilant in its absolute duty and mission to preserve the confidentiality of its students, the investigation, and the information received, regardless of its source. Administrators have heard fear and concern expressed by students, staff and parents about sharing football-related information in the course of this investigation. That is precisely why the District remained silent initially, electing not to address the one-sided media frenzy of half-truths and untruths, why the District did not take questions following its news conference and, in part, why the information that has been shared by the District to date has been limited. The District has a responsibility to protect the health, safety and welfare of our students. Preserving the confidentiality of our students and their families throughout this process remains of paramount importance to us, as our statement to the press on Tuesday reflected.”