Back on track - Pilgrim coach Dolce reappointed

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At a special meeting of the Warwick School Committee Tuesday evening, 45-year veteran Pilgrim High School Track Coach Tom Dolce was approved to resume his coaching duties for another year, following a stir that began during the committee’s Feb. 14 meeting when his coaching candidacy was removed from consideration abruptly and without a reason given publicly.

“I, as the chair, received two complaints from two different parents with regard to Mr. Dolce,” explained committee chair Karen Bachus during a public discussion of the personnel matter – which was requested by Dolce. “I felt that because of these complaints, I had a responsibility to look into these complaints.”

However, Bachus explained that neither of the parents were willing to go on record regarding the complaints or expand on them further.

“At this time, they are refusing to come forward for fear of retaliation by what they call 'the mob,’” said Bachus.

Bachus didn’t elaborate on what the parents meant by “the mob,” but Dolce did have a large group of supporters – including over a dozen current girls he currently coaches for the Pilgrim track team, some former athletes and Principal Gerald Habershaw – join him, crowding the conference room at the Gorton Administration Building.

Dolce had another supporter in school committee member David Testa, who explained his opinion that Dolce – who coached one of his daughters as a long distance runner – exemplified what a coach should be for their students.

“If she [his daughter] were here, she wouldn't be embarrassed for me to say she is not an athlete at all in any way, shape or form. She was a long-distance runner who had never run before,” he said. “He would ask her to run 3,000-meter races. She would run them and get lapped once, sometimes twice, but she finished every one. Part of that she got from her mother and I, but she didn't run for her mother and I – she ran for her coach. And he never told her to run, he asked her. To me, that speaks to coaching character. I think that's what a coach does.”

Testa pointed out that Dolce has received no complaints on his professional personnel file and has never received a less than positive review from athletic directors, and that he was recommended for re-appointment by both Superintendent Philip Thornton and athletic director Kenneth Rix. He cautioned that the committee was coming close to overstepping its bounds by blocking Dolce’s appointment without good reason.

“I understand complaints and fear of coming forward, but there's two sides to a coin, and I'm very concerned that in my opinion I don't think this committee has treated this individual fairly,” he said. “I'm very troubled by essentially taking an action because we can. I think it sets a bad precedent.”

Newly-elected school committee member Nathan Cornell said he received much correspondence on the matter, all in support of re-appointing Dolce. Kyle Adams asked Habershaw whether he had ever received a negative comment or complaint regarding Dolce during his tenure at Pilgrim. “None whatsoever,” replied Habershaw.

Committee vice chair Judith Cobden admitted that she “did not have a positive four years with him [Dolce] as a guidance counselor,” contrary to what Dolce had said in the Beacon story that ran on Feb. 26, “but I don't hold grudges like that,” she continued. “I believe in due process, and without people coming forth with their complaints, I don't know how we can utilize those complaints in any manner. They would have to be here.”

The committee voted unanimously to reappoint Dolce for another year as the Pilgrim girls’ track coach, which drew applause from his supporters in the room. Dolce said after the hearing he was “very happy to have his job back,” and that he was floored by the outpouring of support he received from the administration and both former and current student athletes.

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Dannyhall82

Bachus declined to explain to the Warwick Post her reason for removing Dolce from consideration.

Well Cobden answered that up above. “I did not have a positive 4 years with him but I don’t hold grudges like that”

Righttttttttttttt

Thursday, March 7
richard corrente

So here's how I see it.

Two complaints were received by the School Committee. That put the approval of this worthy candidate on hold. Understandable.

The two complaints received "due diligence". They were found to be invalid. Then, the School Committee saw no reason not to confirm Mr. Dolce and immediately did just that.

Sound good to you? It does to me. What better procedure could the School Committee have done?

Good job School Committee. Perhaps your critics were too quick to judge.

Happy St. Patricks everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Thursday, March 7
Hillsgrove Hal

Dannyhall82, I read that same thing, and drew the same conclusions you did from Ms. Cobden's comment.

There was no legitimate reason to remove Mr. Dolce's name from consideration for renewal of his contract (which is what Ms. Bachus actually did at first), only to reinstate it because these "complaints" could not be confirmed.

In this article, Ms. Cobden says "I believe in due process," yet she allowed the unilateral removal of his name from the appointment list -- against the advice of the superintendent and athletic director -- without giving Mr. Dolce any details of these alleged complaints or an opportunity to respond to them.

I'm sure you'll agree, that's not "due process."

Thursday, March 7
justanidiot

nice two sea that the beecon still runs biased news articles.

Thursday, March 7
Marc Comtois

Process is important.

“I, as the chair, received two complaints from two different parents with regard to Mr. Dolce,” explained committee chair Karen Bachus during a public discussion of the personnel matter – which was requested by Dolce. “I felt that because of these complaints, I had a responsibility to look into these complaints.”

However, she did not divulge these complaints to other members of the School Committee. They had no idea why Dolce's name was pulled in the first place. Only after the fact - at this hearing - were the complaints divulged. That means one of two things happened:

1) Bacchus unwisely decided to not share her reasoning with her fellow Committee Members (or at least all of them) and left herself open to criticism for acting unilaterally and capriciously.

2) There were actually no complaints, she's just making it up to cover for whatever real reason she had for pulling his name.

Thursday, March 7
Hillsgrove Hal

Marc Comtois, I recall reading the earlier article on the Beacon where this all came to light -- it described Mr. Dolce saying that he had contacted Ms. Bachus, who replied that coaches are only appointed to one-year terms.

So, technically, the school committee could just have let his appointment expire.

To your point, I think Ms. Bachus knew she would need some kind of justification (publicly, at least) for the non-renewal.

The process she chose for it was, at best, unwise.

Thursday, March 7
Cat

Well, we all got our answer, now didn't we! Someone DID HOLD A GRUDGE and had the help of her landlady to make it happen.

It better not happen again or else there needs to be an investigation into how the members handle these types of things. Warwick will not put up with these types of unilateral decisions. It would be nice to find out what was the nature of the complaints before removing the man's name.

Stuff like this is what makes me so frustrated at local politics.

Thursday, March 7
Patient Man

The phantom parents of Pilgrim High. Bachus & Cobden are just horrible.

Thursday, March 7
DannyHall82

Absolutely Hal, Cobden preached transparency but Bachus refuses to answer questions or to inform fellow members (Except for her tenant Ms. Cobden). She’s obviously in the loop

Thursday, March 7
Happy

WOW.... Bachus has just confirmed how bad her leadership of the SC is.

I really wish that in cases like this the Attorney General could or would pursue this! To wit, Bachus lying and then covering it up.

Now let those results be public!

The root of this is Cobden and Dolce bucking heads, plain and simple. Cobden whines to Bachus and they remove Dolce, problem solved!

Not that simple, when a complaint is lodged not only must it be documented, it must be followed up on. Why didn't Bachus do either? She is running damage control and got caught.

She would have sat with Dolce concerning the allegations for his side of the story and at that time informed him that his position was on hold until the investigation is complete!

I'm not saying that Bachus or Cobden are bad people, I am saying and standing my ground on the fact that at this time in their careers, neither is ready for that positions they hold!

Friday, March 8
PhilipH

I had Mr. Dolce as a guidance counselor at Pilgrim. I didn't think very highly of him. He was arrogant and sometimes too harsh with students. I once saw a girl come back to her locker crying because he told her she was too stupid to get into college. I never forgot that. I'm sure there are people who feel the same way and people who had good experiences with him. I did not. That being said, everyone has the right to due process and any complaints or concerns about reappointing him should have been brought up at a public meeting. I have a feeling these parents mentioned something in passing, maybe an "off the cuff" remark that Bachus and Cobden used to fulfill an old grudge. But that wasn't the correct to way handle it. If that's not the case and there are legitimate concerns, then parents should come forward and make a formal complaint. In any case, I hope the taxpayers of Warwick will do a little more research on the candidates next election.

Friday, March 8
scot63

I think Karen Bachus & Judith Cobden should resign immediately and there should be an investigation.

they only follow their rules!!!!!!

Friday, March 8
Al Demirjian

A great injustice has been undone, however, the explanations being offered I will very charitably classify as bovine scatology. This had little to do with revenge and everything to do with employment, as in giving Coach Dolce's job to someone else...They thought they were being slick and this would slide through as an after thought...They got caught. I believe as others have stated that the complaints were a ruse, a made up excuse to expedite Tom's departure and give the job to someone waiting in the wings who had designs on the job...Dirty office politics...

As far as being tough or old school...He could be, but if he was it was done for a reason...You were goofing off or were not working to the best of your ability to obtain the best result, classroom, wrestling or track. You wanna talk tough, nobody was tougher than the late Earl Lambert, a PE department head. NOBODY, then or now. I learned to do what he said and avoid all potential conflict. He made Tom look like a choirboy, the scariest teacher I ever met in Warwick, hands down.

Welcome back Tom, as for this group involved in the attempted palace coup, you better be on your best behavior and do your job...lest I go Earl Lambert on you...

Friday, March 8
justanidiot

i miss the days when teachers could get physical with the kids. a good punch to the face taught them so much more than being civilized to them. we need more punching and paddling and less coddling and detention

Saturday, March 9
richard corrente

Dear critics,

What are you complaining about?

Bachus followed the rules exactly. And you're complaining!?? She was told of "alleged" issues. She gave the accusation "due process". She didn't ignore it. She didn't jump to conclusions about it. She learned that the complaints were without merit, and then she confirmed the appointment of a very deserving gentleman.

For this cautious, methodical, careful process, some of you haters want her (as Scot63 says) to resign and THEN have an investigation. WOW! Shoot first and THEN investigate??? Are you kidding me? You condemn her for using the most proper procedure. You, on the other hand, DON'T!!! If she acted like you do, you'd be looking for a punishment involving tar and feathers!

PLUS, you do it anonymously. That's completely unfair and cowardly. Good thing she didn't act that way isn't it.

Fake news. Fake sources. Fake people, with Fake names!

Happy St. Patricks everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Monday, March 11
Cat

The only reason "due process" was carried out was because the coach went public with it because he was being stonewalled by Bachus. It was only "resolved" because of public outcry. No one but you think this was a thought out and methodical process. Everyone else sees through what happened and put a stop to it. Funny how people change their tune once they are called out on their BS.

Monday, March 11
Hillsgrove Hal

Cat, it also seems to me that there was plenty of time for Ms. Bachus to alert at least the athletic director and the superintendent about the complaints, before she withdrew Mr. Dolce's name from the first reappointment vote.

Isn't that the right way to handle complaints about teachers -- bring them to the administration?

Announcing the withdrawal of his name based on unspecified "complaints" at a public meeting was clearly the wrong way to handle this situation.

Monday, March 11
justanidiot

da only ting fake here is da traxpayers mayer

Monday, March 11
Happy

Cat, You are correct, there was no "due process"!

The only "due process" was to eliminate Dolce.

Mr. Corrente's best quality is to troll and get the good people of Warwick worked up. In no way, shape or form does he hold either Bachus or Cobden responsible for botching this up. In his mind "due process" is just doing what you want to get a crony in, eliminate a person with 45 years of committed service, and then make up a story when caught!

I'm not saying that Bachus or Cobden are bad people, I am saying and standing my ground on the fact that at this time in their careers, neither is ready for that positions they hold!

I cannot say the same thing about Mr. Corrente, he should know better, but he doesn't!

Monday, March 11
richard corrente

Dear Cat and Happy,

You can speculate as to "why" due process was carried out by Karen Bachus but shouldn't you be giving her credit for actually doing it? "Res Ipsa Loquitor" is Latin for "The action speaks for itself". She factually did what she was supposed to do. She followed the rules. Her actions proved there WAS "due process". I don't think any of us has the right to fault her for that. I can't understand why you have.

Happy St Patricks everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Wednesday, March 13
Happy

Mr. Corrente, You are a very funny man!

I do have to ask you a question though. Why is it that everyone in Warwick, except you, know that Bachus and Cobden are at the bottom of this and had their own agenda and if they didn't get caught then Dolce would be gone?

As a side note, now that Gina has sports betting I hope you consider running for Mayor again, we the people of Warwick can make a fortune betting on whoever you run against!

Enjoy,

Happiest

Friday, March 15