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2018-08-08 / Front Page

Amityville Coach claims district's failure to rehire him was illegal

by Carolyn James

Rumors have been circulating for weeks over the Amityville School Board’s decision last month not to rehire longtime athletic coach Billy Kretz. While the district has declined to discuss the matter, the Record has learned that Kretz, through the Amityville Teacher’s Association, has filed a Notice of Claim against the District citing its actions.

A notice of claim is a document required in New York State prior to filing a lawsuit against a governmental entity or municipality. It must be filed within a reasonable time, usually three to six months after the injury or incident occurs. Failure to file a notice of claim within the prescribed time period prevents a plaintiff from filing a lawsuit unless exceptions to the requirement are provided by statute or ordinance.

The Amityville Record filed for a copy of the Notice of Claim, which is public record. In a letter in response to that request, the district said it would either provide the document or decline the request by August 21, following the criteria set down by the New York State Freedom of Information laws.

A spokesman for the New York State Union of Teachers (NYSUT) confirmed, however, that a claim was filed on behalf of Kretz, and that Kretz maintains he was not rehired to the position of junior varsity basketball because he filed a complaint against another coach in the district over an incident that allegedly took place when the teams were attending the state championships in Glens Falls in the spring.

According to Carl Korn, a NYSUT spokesman, Coach Billy Kretz smelled marijuana from a room occupied by another coach attending the event. He reported the incident to the district “and as a result he was removed from his coaching duties.

“Mr. Kretz takes very seriously his responsibilities as a teacher, coach and role model for students,” said Korn. “He did the right thing and he should not be punished for it. We call on the school district to reinstate him immediately and we stand behind him 100 percent.”

NYSUT officials did not identify the other coach, but other sources said it was the district’s varsity basketball coach Gordon Thomas.

Thomas declined to comment except to say that the allegations made by Kretz were “false and unfounded.”

His attorney, Jacqueline Siben of Siben & Siben in Bay Shore, also declined to comment, saying all questions should be referred to the district. Superintendent of Schools Dr. Mary Kelly said she could not speak on the issue.

The district recently hired a new law firm to represent it, Lamb and Barnosky of Melville. The attorney representing Amityville, Sharon Berlin Esq., responded saying, “anybody can file a Notice of Claim and make allegations, but actually proving them is a different story.”

Kretz has worked as both varsity football and is a winning JV basketball coach in Amityville for approximately 6 years. Coaches in the district are hired or rehired each year, under one-year contracts.

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