The Teaneck Board of Education has fired the high school’s popular rowing coach over claims that rowers were continually put in danger, NorthJersey.com reported.
School board members voted unanimously at a Wednesday night meeting not to renew the contracts of Coach Clemens Reinke, and his assistant coach, Sara Elmiligi.
Teaneck Schools Superintendent Barbara Pinsak proposed terminating Reinke over a series of alleged incidents that put students in danger and opened the district to liability, according to the report. In one purported incident, high school rowers almost crashed into a collegiate-level crew.
About 50 parents and students turned up at the meeting to protest the decision. Reinke’s supporters also gathered about 100 signatures and pushed school officials to explain the decision after word first emerged Nov. 12 that the coach could be fired.
Supporters have also suggested that Reinke, who is also the pastor at Grace Lutheran Church, was being fired for not being able to attend Sunday races because of his church responsibilities. Reinke met with district officials Nov. 21 to discuss his pending termination.
A letter Reinke wrote to Pinsak makes no specific mention of the district’s safety concerns and proposes using a volunteer coach to help staff Sunday morning events.
“I am hopeful that the Teaneck Board of Education will make the right decision, and not discriminate against me on the basis of my religious duty and practice,” the Dec. 2 letter states.
According to the report, at least one student cited the accidents at justification for firing the coach.