Track coach vexed by unexpected benching

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Thomas Dolce has spent the better part of 45 years working within the athletics department of Warwick Public Schools coaching boys and girls track. He has helped his teams accrue high win percentages, win numerous championships, guide dozens of students to prestigious titles including All-American honors in various colleges. He was inducted into the Rhode Island Track Coaches Hall of Fame in 2011.

So you may be able to imagine Dolce’s surprise when he learned from athletic director Kenneth Rix that he would be passed over for reappointment as head coach by the Warwick School Committee during their meeting on Feb. 14. Indeed, as he was warned, committee chairwoman Karen Bachus abruptly singled out the “Pilgrim track coach” position from the list of appointees for the spring sports season and removed Dolce’s candidacy before voting in approval of the others.

“There was no reason for it,” Dolce said during a Monday interview. “He [Rix] didn't have any reason for it, and I certainly couldn’t think of any reasons.”

Dolce tried contacting Judy Cobden, the committee’s vice chair who Dolce also happened to know during her time as a student at Pilgrim, but didn’t initially hear back from her. When she returned his message saying that she had been dealing with unspecified health issues and was unable to respond before, she said she would get back to him with a response to his inquiry soon.

She never got back to him, he said on Monday. Dolce said he was surprised, as he felt as though he had a good relationship with Cobden during her time at Pilgrim.

Dolce then tried reaching out to Bachus personally on Saturday. Initially he received no response from her either, but eventually did get a one-sentence response from Bachus on Sunday, which said simply “All coaches are hired on a ONE YEAR ONLY basis.”

“I am well aware that all coaches are hired on a one year only basis,” Dolce wrote back that afternoon. “The point is you took my name off the list of coaches who were recommended for reappointment by the superintendent and the athletic director for no just reason.”

Dolce said that he heard from another parent that his name was removed for re-appointment because “complaints were filed against me,” but that he has never been alerted to the supposed complaints, has never been asked about them and has never been given a chance to respond to the allegations.

In a meeting with Beacon staff, Dolce showed his recent evaluation report from Rix, which indicated no marks of concern and recommended continued employment. Pilgrim High School principal Gerald Habershaw said that he has not received any complaints regarding Dolce during his tenure at the school.

“I feel as though I’ve been unfairly treated,” he said. “My reputation is important to me, and I won’t have it be tarnished by innuendos.”

Dolce said he had received an overwhelming response from those vouching for his character and decrying the decision to pass him over for re-appointment as the head coach.

Reached on Monday, Bachus said that Dolce’s re-appointment will be on the agenda for the next meeting for discussion and/or action. “He has a good record,” she said, but declined to comment further on why his name was pulled in the first place. Cobden did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

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justanidiot

journalism and opinion pieces are two different animals. learn how to writ news.

Tuesday, February 26
Al Demirjian

What a crock of dung! Empty suits passing judgement. I have known Tom both as a student myself and as a teacher and coach for my Daughter's for 50 years. The "people" sitting in judgement of this man can't carry his lunch bag. This man has been a teacher, coach and mentor to more students than can be imagined. I know because I've been there as a student and a parent. Tom has molded many a student into finely tuned, disciplined and focused and accomplished true student athletes. His record speaks for itself.

I will tell you what this is really about, someone, perhaps politically connected needed a job. So this was the opportunity to jettison a long serving educator and coach to give coach Dolce's job to that person. I've seen it happen before. So Bachus, and your other spineless jellyfish cohorts or co-conspirators, try telling the truth. This has everything to do with office politics rather than job performance or character. This is a total miscarriage of justice, but then again the way things are run in this State, the whole State is a miscarriage. Rest assured, I'll be watching your performance and ethical behavior like a hawk.

Tuesday, February 26
wwkvoter

I smell a rat... we already have a victim, time to find the rat(s) in this abuse...

Tuesday, February 26
WarwickfortheKids

This is very disheartening on many levels. 1.) Coach Dolce by all accounts has been an exemplary part of WPS for as long as most of us can remember and deserves an explanation for non reappointment, as well as an apology for any negative/unfounded damage to his reputation and the lack of communication and transparency 2.) The arbitrary removal of his name by one or two members of the SC despite recommendations from our athletic director and superintendent and with the principal's confirmation of no knowledge of any complaints, completely undermines our athletic director's authority and judgement as well as the future ability to recruit and retain dedicated coaches - what coach would want to commit to a system or try to build a team where there is not a transparent/formal process for evaluation, reappointment, and complaint resolution? 3.) WPS has struggled with many very serious and public issues over the past few years. With a new chair and three new SC members who all pledged transparency and a rebuilding of community and teacher trust in WPS, this arbitrary action being one of their first, feels like a slap in the face to all those who voted for them and an abuse of power. The school community and all present (and future) coaches deserve an explanation of how this coach was removed from a recommended list by 1 or 2 SC members with no process or transparency and a pledge to create a formal/transparent internal process for the recruitment and reappointment of coaching staff as well as complaint resolution - asap. While many are concerned with this situation, it has even broader implications for the reputation of our newly elected SC and our school system - apologize for how this was handled, resolve it in a transparent way for those involved, and create system to ensure it does not happen again so you do not lose the trust of those you represent - it is much easier to admit and correct a mistake than to rebuild trust.

Tuesday, February 26
wwkvoter

"With a new chair and three new SC members who all pledged transparency and a rebuilding of community and teacher trust in WPS, this arbitrary action being one of their first, feels like a slap in the face to all those who voted for them and an abuse of power."

AGREE. WHAT A BUNCH OF LIARS OUT OF THE GATE. SEE ABOUT THIS NEXT ELECTION.

So, who on the SC is most responsible for this crap?

Tuesday, February 26
ThatGuyInRI

Welcome to small town, small minded politics as usual.

Something is up, someone has an agenda.

Who and what we may or may not find out/

Wednesday, February 27
Warwick Resident

Wow, never would have guessed that Bachus and Cobden are up to something fishy already.

Wednesday, February 27
Concerned_resident

Did no one see this happening? Karen Bachus and a Judy Cobden are one in the same! Cobden is The puppet and does whatever she's told to do....people were warned before the election and she was still voted in! I hope the coach files a lawsuit against Bachus for defamation of character with these lame accusations. She's been playing god on the SC for years, but shows her face at events so people think she actually gives a crap....hopefully she attacked her last victim and things change soon cuz karmas coming.

Wednesday, February 27
richard corrente

It amazes me how some commenters jump to judgement and criticize before they know the reasons why. I don't know why this clearly qualified man was passed over but there had to be a reason. Karen Bachus did say "He has a good record." I will wait until the other shoe falls and we members of the public learn who was given the job over Thomas Dolce and why. Then, and only then, should we decide if that was a good or bad decision. Then, and only then, will I comment in a agreeable or disagreeable way. Remember, we never know the whole story. The School Committee does. For now at least, we should give them the benefit of the doubt.

Happy St. Patricks everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Thursday, February 28
Marc Comtois

Simply put, Coach Dolce is "old school" and successful. His style is unique - he is tough, sarcastic and certainly not "Politically Correct", but he is also not malicious or cruel. He genuinely cares for his athletes and works to get the best out of them. I had a kid who ran for him for 4 years and took many positives away from the experience. This action by the current School Committee leadership seems unwarranted on its face.

Thursday, February 28
Cat

IF

If we ever find out what happened

If they ever let the public know why he wasn't reappointed

If there were actual complaints against him

So many ifs!

If it looks bad, it usually is bad

There is no doubt this looks politically motivated so they need to provide their reasoning for why they did this sooner rather than later.

Thursday, February 28
Hillsgrove Hal

Cat, I completely agree. There's enough information in this article to show that Coach Dolce is losing his job for reasons that have nothing to do with his qualifications or experience.

That's more than enough reason to question the school committee's decision-making and motives.

Friday, March 1
Happy

Mr. Corrente, I have watched and read your posts very closely and have yet to comment on even one. So here is the other shoe you have been waiting for, you have your head buried so far in the ground (for lack of another phrase in a public forum) that you don't even know what's going on here!

There are two things you should take away from this, first, Mr. Dolce has 45 years successfully working with Warwick's children as he molds them into adults! 45 years alone with no blemish on his record and he gets this? What planet are you from? This man should be treated like "God" for all the time and work he has done for the community!

Second, and more importantly, We have the wrong, absolutely WRONG School Committee in place! Let's say it was a mistake that his name was left off, well they should have stepped up and corrected that immediately and apologized to Mr. Dolce!

The S.C. doesn't want to be transparent, this clearly shows they have a hidden agenda, period! Let's see who the "new" crony is and then we will know who the rat is! Crooked politics at it's worst!

Sign me off as being "HOT"!!!!!!!

Friday, March 1
Marky Mark

Can we first talk about how he's wearing FOUR layers of clothes in that picture? Is it sincerely THAT cold up there in RI right now? Wowzers.

Friday, March 1
Robert Johnson

Mr Dolce taught at Wyman School 50+ years ago. I know because I was there and I’m 60 now. He also coached wrestling and baseball at Pilgrim H S. I was there too. Mr Dolce, Stop service to the Warwick schools and serve Jesus Christ instead.

Friday, March 1
DannyHall82

When the Chair of the School Committee and Vice Chair share one brain and are in a relationship this is what we get. Shady politics at its best! So much for that transparency they slung around on the campaign trail.....

Sunday, March 3
richard corrente

Dear Happy,

Cool screen name, but please don't be "hot".

I didn't disparage Mr. Dolce at all. He could be the best. He could be the worst. I don't know enough about the gentleman to offer an opinion. That's why I didn't. I did say that it was hugely unfair for others to prejudge the School Committee until all the facts are out and I will stand by that. When they are, I will also comment. Until then, I don't think it's fair to make judgement...or criticism of judgement, especially if you refuse to use your honest name. You notice that I don't hide behind a screen name, even a cool one like yours.

Happy St. Patricks "Happy".

Happy St. Patricks everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Monday, March 4
richard corrente

Dear DannyHall82,

You're much better than this.

To say that the Chair and Vice Chair "share the same brain" is far beneath you and to discuss their (or anyone's) personal relationship is not something I expect to hear from you. You messed up on this one Danny. Account for it. You say "shady politics" and "slung around". Isn't that what you just did? C'mon Danny. Own it.

Happy St. Patricks everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Monday, March 4
wwkvoter

"When the Chair of the School Committee and Vice Chair share one brain and are in a relationship this is what we get."

A relationship? What relationship do these women have with each other, family or something?

Monday, March 4
Patient Man

Karen Bachus is just not a good human being. The guy deserves a reason.

Tuesday, March 5
LuckyMom

It needs to be said, the majority of runners seemed unaware of this situation until it was brought to their attention by Coach Dolce. At which time he handed out email addresses asking for letters to be generated on his behalf. He informed students to be on the lookout for newspaper articles and the like. Dolce made it clear he was furious and planned to vehemently fight for his position.

As yet, there has been no formal proclamation of a grievance. You can sit and theorize on a dozen scenarios. Everything from a lazy kid to too many injured runners, to complaints filed by colleagues in the field, to the Committee choosing to make an example of the contractual term, or another equally qualified applicant vying for the Pilgrim position. The list is endless!

Gaging the responses, the pro’s and con’s of the current coach’s interactions on the track, with Warwick’s students and as a team leader for our youth does not appear to be this community’s priority. While I understand Coach Dolce’s speaking on his own behalf. Where did the anger come from? Don’t we all occasionally face review in our job performance? Is it correct to attack and disparage the School Committee members over this?

Given the above comments, it is likely there will be crickets at tonight’s meeting, in spite of the numerous conversations that have circulated among the kids and families who will directly be impacted by these decisions. No parent or child is going to want to face the harassing ridicule exhibited in the above comments. The appearance of indifference will speak for itself. But in the back of your heads, remember there may have been a concerned parent, a worried kid or a brand new opportunity that has now been pushed back into the shadows by the way the community handled this situation.

Tuesday, March 5
Cat

LuckyMom,

"Don’t we all occasionally face review in our job performance? Is it correct to attack and disparage the School Committee members over this?"

The crux of the issue is that there was no review, no communication, no indication that there was an issue. Had there been a review and it was brought up then of course the narrative would be different. The coach is trying to fight for his job in the face of not knowing why his name was removed from the list. From all accounts, the coach was doing a tremendous job and the kids love having him as a coach. If there is a complaint then it needs to be addressed. It doesn't have to be done publicly but at the very least, let the accused person know what has been said so they can defend the accusation. That seems only fair.

Tuesday, March 5
DannyHall82

Richard, I do own it...

They do share a brain, I guarantee they will never vote against each other on issues. Cobden Lives in a rental Property owned by Bachus. That isn’t a conflict of interest? A home she literally moved into months before the election. I’m stating facts.

A). Cobden lives in A rental property owned my Bachus

B). They are in a relationship ( I didn’t say which kind)

If you need me to get you proof just look up the tax assessor page.

They both did nothing but campaign extremely negative towards people, this is what they get.

Tuesday, March 5
Happy

Mr. Corrente, for someone who had a vision to lead Warwick and to now listen to what you write I totally get why so many people shred you in this forum. What a mistake that would have been!

Simply put, you don't need to know Mr. Dolce, all you need are just a few simple facts that you already know.

First, 45 years of service and being told he does a "good" job.

Second, "The FACTS", this one is real simple, you don't tell a 45 year employee he is doing a good job and provide good reviews of his performance and then blindside him by removing him.

Lack of any poor or substandard reviews is the very foundation of "knee-jerk" management that should be eliminated from our society, PERIOD! If Mr. Dolce is not being reviewed properly, that is not his fault, it is the chain above him that needs to be fixed first so this never happens, EVER! Poor Performance of those making the decision has to be corrected first.

You can wait all you want for any other facts but I can and will tell you that if I oversee the S.C. I would have my foot up someone's backside until they learned how to perform their job properly!

Sign me off, "Thank God You Didn't Make Mayor" geeee...

Happy.

Wednesday, March 6