“Two people running for three open Suffern school board seats praised embattled 49-year cross-country coach Joe Biddy this week and called for the board to speak to him directly before deciding whether to approve him being replaced.
Four people will vie for three positions on the seven-member board during the May 15 election.
The board will vote on athletic director Andy Guccione’s nominations for all fall coaching positions. Guccione said Friday he will submit names in May or June.
While board members have not publicly commented on the fate of New York’s all-time winningest high school cross-country coach, supporters say the election could swing the board in Biddy’s favor.
But it’s unclear whether the district will wait until the election’s winners are seated in July before voting on fall coaching nominations.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Douglas Adams did not respond to a phone call and email asking whether he believed a vote should be delayed.
Candidates criticize district over Biddy
Neither board President Theresa DiFalco, the lone incumbent running for reelection, nor candidate Donald Cairns could be reached for comment.
But the two other candidates, Melissa Reimer and Angus Mackenzie, expressed support for the 75-year-old Rockland County Sports Hall of Fame and Armory Track Hall of Fame member, who retired from teaching physical education at Suffern High after 49 years in 2016 and after 52 years teaching overall.
Mackenzie is a Suffern graduate and threw the shot put for Biddy during track (Biddy previously coached both boys and girls track for decades) and also had him as a teacher. He cited Biddy’s expected termination as a major driving force behind his candidacy.
Mackenzie characterized him as a “very tough guy but a very fair guy,” who has shaped kids’ lives.
“It’s horrible what they’ve done to this man,” Mackenzie said, referring to both the administration and board.
Nearly 1,100 people have signed a petition calling for Biddy’s retention and supporters have filled several school board meetings. Included have been current and past athletes, athletes’ parents, grandparents and current and past area athletic officials.
Citing that, Mackenzie said of the board, “How on earth can they not get behind him?”
In calling for the board to interview Biddy, Reimer said, “I can’t imagine this man, all of a sudden, does something and it’s, ‘Goodbye.’ The man has coached for 49 years. I think he’s obviously loved by the students and that’s the most important thing. They adore him and the parents adore him.”
“They’ve listened to everybody else besides Mr. Biddy,” Mackenzie added.”
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