The Colonial - - FRONT PAGE - By Bren­danWills

The Methac­ton wrestling com­mu­nity came out in droves to the April 15 Methac­ton School Board meet­ing, all wear­ing lime green shirts with “Coach Maida” writ­ten across the chest.

Methac­ton wrestlers, their fam­i­lies, other Methac­ton coaches, coaches from other schools and a PIAA wrestling ref­eree who lives in the district all came to the meet­ing to show their sup­port of for­mer Methac­ton wrestling coach A.J. Maida, whose con­tract was not re­newed for the next sea­son. Maida’s sup­port­ers asked the school board to re-eval­u­ate the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s de­ci­sion and re­in­state Maida.

Mul­ti­ple wrestlers, in their state­ments to the board, re­called mo­ments when Maida in­flu­enced them to try their hard­est in school first and that suc­cess in the class­room trick­les into all as­pects of life, in­clud­ing ath­let­ics.

Cur­rent wrestlers were not the only ones to make state­ments.

Potts­grove head wrestling coach Jeff Mad­den, a for­mer wrestler and Methac­ton grad­u­ate, said he came to the meet­ing on be­half of coaches from other school districts.

“Tonight I am re­ally rep­re­sent­ing the wrestling coaches of the PAC-10,” Mad­den said.

Mad­den went on to say all of the wrestling coaches in the PAC-10 agree that Maida’s wrestlers were al­ways pro­fes­sional, pre­pared and sports­man­like.

Other coaches that showed their sup­port for Maida on April 15 in­cluded Paul Lepre, Methac­ton’s foot­ball coach, and Perkiomen Val­ley wrestling coach Tim Walsh.

While coaches might not al­ways get along with ref­er­ees dur­ing ath­letic com­pe­ti­tions, Scott Thorn, a PIAA wrestling of­fi­cial who lives in the district, said his re­la­tion­ship with Maida was noth­ing but pleas­ant and pro­fes­sional. Thorn said Maida’s wrestlers con­ducted them­selves in the same man­ner as their coach.

The com­ments from the com­mu­nity be­gan to es­ca­late when Bill D’An­nun­zio, a res­i­dent of the district, called shame upon Su­per- in­ten­dent David Zerbe and Methac­ton Prin­ci­pal Judy Lan­dis for ask­ing Ath­letic Di­rec­tor Paul Spei­wak to speak with wrestlers about not voic­ing their opin­ions at the school board meet­ing.

“How dare you, Mr. Su­per­in­ten­dent, tell the chil­dren what is in their best in­ter­ests,” D’An­nun­zio said, “How dare you, Madam Prin­ci­pal! How dare you ask the ath­letic di­rec­tor to talk to the stu­dents and tell them to not come out and speak out!”

D’An­nun­zio was in­ter­rupted by board Vice Pres­i­dent Her­bert Rothe telling D’An­nun­zio his com­ments would not be tol­er­ated.

“I will not tol­er­ate any deroga­tory com­ments to­wards any mem­ber of the ad­min­is­tra­tors or the school board,” Rothe said, though D’An­nun­zio con­tin­ued to speak to the ap­plause of the au­di­ence.

Af­ter D’An­nun­zio’s words, Rothe re­quested the au­di­ence re­frain from mak­ing any per­sonal or deroga­tory com­ments and to pro­ceed with ci­vil­ity.

John Ge­orge, an­other wrestler’s par­ent, said he not only took is­sue with the fact that Maida was re­leased, but also the man­ner in which the ad­min­is­tra­tion re­sponded to ques­tions and com­ments from par­ents and stu­dents.

“Our re­quests and opin­ions have gone un­heeded. You’re on the school board be­cause you do the right thing and we thank you for it,” Ge­orge said. “We are ask­ing you to do two things. One is to halt the job of­fer­ing. The other is to in­ves­ti­gate the dis­missal for just cause. If none is found, then re­in­state coach Maida to end what I’m go­ing to call fool­ish­ness.”

Prior the start of pub­lic com­ment, Zerbe is­sued a state­ment con­cern­ing the April 7 re­lease of Maida’s con­tract.

The state­ment in­di­cated the ad­min­is­tra­tion will stick by its de­ci­sion and con­tinue the search for a new head wrestling coach.

“This de­ci­sion, re­gard­less of its pop­u­lar­ity, was made ap­pro­pri­ately and com­mu­ni­cated di­rectly to each of the stake­hold­ers in a man­ner ap­pro­pri­ate with the pri­vacy rights at­trib­ut­able to the in­di­vid­ual in the po­si­tion, which is sim­i­lar to any other school-re­lated po­si­tion,” Zerbe said.

Zerbe said the protests to the de­ci­sion were mis­in­formed on the en­tire sit­u­a­tion. How­ever, Zerbe in­di­cated, many as­pects of the de­ci­sion can­not be dis­cussed in pub­lic due to the laws sur­round­ing school per­son­nel.

“The open­ing of the head wrestling po­si­tion has drawn crit­i­cism and con­cern and was met with mis­in­for­ma­tion,” Zerbe said. “This in­for­ma­tion ei­ther in whole or in part may stem from our in­abil­ity to ad­dress our stake­hold­ers com­pletely to their lik­ing due to our con­straints around this mat­ter.”

Zerbe went on to say that any con­flict of per­son­al­ity or philo­soph­i­cal dif­fer­ences be­tween Maida and Lan­dis are un­founded and not the rea­son for open­ing the po­si­tion.

21st Century Me­dia photo / BRENDAN WILLS

Methac­ton High School wrestlers wear green “Team Maida” T-shirts at the Methac­ton School Board meet­ing April 15 in sup­port of the for­mer coach A.J. Maida, whose con­tract was not re­newed.

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