- Pine-Richland School District
Important Message to 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