Niagara Gazette


September 11, 2010

TIM'S TAKES: Lew-Port scandal sheds light on union work

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This is a sad place we’ve reached, where we continue to protect teachers rather than informing parents about the actions of those who deal with our children. 

The most recent comments from the head of the Lewiston-Porter Teachers Union who believes it’s better to hide the fate of a coach is yet another glaring example of the overprotective cocoon that surrounds public employees, and leaves kids exposed.

Lew-Port Teachers Union President Kevin Jaruszewski said the union “has an issue,” because the fate of boys soccer coach Sam Ricotta was leaked to the newspaper. Ricotta, who has been taken out of his position as coach, will be allowed to maintain his teaching job. Sounds fair enough to us. He made a mistake insisting that a star player who occasionally used profanity had Tourette’s Syndrome, even though that’s a characteristic that rarely manifests itself in sufferers. 

And while we think it’s an unfortunate gaffe, it hardly sounds like his entire teaching career needs to be tanked. He made an error in judgement, but hardly did something illegal, like use drugs in the classroom, engage in sexual conduct with a student or get embroiled in a physical altercation with his spouse.

Still, it was an error in judgement, one parents who pay their taxes and send their kids off to school should be informed of. How the parents handle the situation in their own home is their prerogative, like how they decide to vote on candidates for public office after learning about any indiscretions.

The truth is a string of coaches at Lew-Port — and the problem is certainly not exclusive to the Youngstown school — have been reprimanded in recent years for inappropriate conduct, both at home and at work. Yet because of the powerful teachers’ unions, little has made the light of day, and instead, the undercurrent of gossip permeates the community. I can tell you, ask a Village of Lewiston member why a former football coach was fired, and they’ll give you gory details.

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