NEWBURGH – Embattled former Newburgh Free Academy varsity boys’ basketball coach Frank Dinnocenzio has applied for his old job in hopes of returning to the bench, but don’t count the NAACP on his team.
Wilbur Aldridge, the Hudson Valley regional director of the NAACP, called Dinnocenzio’s candidacy for the job “rather interesting” and questioned his future behavior.
“If he did that once, why wouldn’t he do it again,” Aldridge said.
Dinnocenzio was one of the faces in the NFA boys’ basketball class-cutting scandal that rocked the school district seven years ago.
“I don’t know if they are considering him, but if he did that once why wouldn’t he do it again?” Aldridge asked. “He should go through a real rigorous interview and evaluation process. The evaluation process should include a psychological evaluation.”
Orange County Legislator Kevindaryan Lujan, who represents the City of Newburgh, also voiced his displeasure with Dinnocenzio’s candidacy for the coaching position.
“Our coaches, much like our teachers and administrative leaders, are there to guide us and mentor us,” Lujan wrote on his Facebook page. “I find it difficult to understand how someone who was linked to a scandal that involved cutting classes would even be considered for this role. I hope that our Newburgh Enlarged City School District leaders will make the right decision. People working with our youth need to put the academic future and success of our students above all else.”
Lujan said the Newburgh school district “is one of the largest and most diverse in the region; we need to send the right message to our communities and students. Our youth deserve coaches and teachers that are emblematic of the diversity of our communities and individuals that will be not only good role models but also sources of inspiration for our students. We cannot afford to repeat the same mistakes of the past, especially not when it’s about the future of our children.”
Dinnocenzio was a key figure in Newburgh’s seven-month investigation into regular class cutting by the highly successful 2008-09 and 2009-10 Newburgh teams. Four of six of Newburgh’s top players from those teams did not graduate on time. During the scandal, Dinnocenzio faced heavy criticism from the NAACP, local leaders and the community.
According to sources, Dinnocenzio, who teaches special education at NFA, will interview for the varsity boys’ basketball position this week. Current Newburgh boys’ basketball coach Matt Brown will also interview in hopes of remaining at the helm. Brown took over for Dinnocenzio in 2012 after he was not retained by the School Board.
Dinnocenzio is soliciting support to return to the coaching bench. In an email he recently sent out en masse to friends and supporters, Dinnocenzio wrote: “I am applying for the Newburgh Enlarged City School District Boys Varsity Basketball Head Coaching job. I am trying to make a comeback as the coach and I am asking you to write in as a reference for me, talking about what you know of me as a person and coach (if you cannot describe me as a coach, please give me a reference as what you know of me as a person).”
In his email, Dinnocenzio instructed supporters to send the letters of recommendation to Newburgh Superintendent Dr. Roberto Padilla, Athletic Director Edgar Glascott and School Board President Phil Howard. The former coach provided emails for all three administrators.
“What about the parents? Are they speaking on his behalf?” Aldridge said. “What about the kids that he damaged? Are they speaking on his behalf? These are questions that should be asked.”