What to Know
- Hundreds of New Rochelle High School students walked out of classes Friday morning as a sign of support for a popular head football coach
- Coach Lou DiRienzo was reassigned days before the team's playoff game
- The walkout comes one day after furious parents and community members inundated the hallways leading up to a hearing on the matter
Students and teachers rallied Friday in support of a popular head football coach who was reassigned days before this weekend's playoff game
Chopper 4 was over the scene where a sea of students walked out of class Friday morning and gathered on the Huguenots' football field -- subsequently forming what appeared to be an immense "D," seemingly in reference to coach Lou DiRienzo, who is fondly known to students and the community as "Coach D."
The walkout lasted roughly about an hour and the students dispersed roughly around 11:35 a.m. and made their way back into the school.
Later in the day, the teachers' union rallied in support of the coach, as well.
DiRienzo's son tells News 4 that students and staff are not the only one's hurting -- his father is also upset that he cannot be there for his students on game day.
The walkout and rally comes one day after furious parents and community members inundated the hallways leading up to a hearing on the coach's reassignment held by the superintendent of schools.
Amid signs that read "WE SUPPORT COACH D", “fire the superintendent” chants echoed Thursday morning as supporters of DiRienzo demanded answers for the unexpected reassignment and the coach's immediate reinstatement.
New Rochelle Superintendent Laura Feijóo said she couldn't comment on the ongoing investigation that forced DiRienzo’s reassignment.
Although she has not clearly stated why the head football coach has been reassigned days before the playoff game, she did say the coach cannot step foot on campus.
DiRienzo, who is a two-time state champion, has been reassigned outside of the school and is being paid, LoHud.com reported, citing the superintendent. He can come to Saturday's game as a spectator but cannot have anything to do with the team, according to the publication.
Supporters of the coach, including former NFL star Ray Rice, turned out to attend the conference, LoHud.com reported.
According to the report, after the news conference, Feijóo attempted to address the public about the coach, but was inundated by shouts from the his supporters.
However, according to LoHud.com, the crowd went quiet for Rice as he spoke: “I know what happened. You know what happened,” Rice told Feijoo, asking her whether DiRienzo “deserved public humiliation” for this situation.
In an email sent out to parents after DiRienzo’s reassignment, Feijóo said that confidentiality rights of staff members “limits the amount of information that can be shared with parents, notwithstanding our desire to do so.”
The email goes on to say: “We understand many of you may be disappointed by this news and certainly understand the importance of this game to our school and community. However, we are confident that our student athletes will continue to perform in an outstanding manner.”
During DiRienzo’s reassignment, the team’s assistant coaches will lead the football team to practice and “if necessary, in Saturday’s playoff game at Mahopac High School,” Feijóo said in her email.
Although school officials have not said what happened, supporters at the conference tell News 4 the reassignment stems from the coach allegedly helping a student in distress.
Additionally, the New Rochelle Football Parent Association tweeted that DiRienzo "helped a student in distress to leave school with her parent. Instead of quietly investigating the issue, as has forever been the practice at NRHS, Superintendent Feijoo chose to defame our coach and suspend him from teaching and coaching — and announce that fact to the world as though he was a criminal."
DiRienzo spoke via phone with News 4 New York following Thursday's meeting saying his concern has always been the players and mentoring them.
"That is my focus," he said.