In the midst of a basketball scandal that has led to three firings, two suspensions and perhaps a principal’s early retirement, state criminal investigators in New Jersey have now launched an inquiry into Paterson (N.J.) Eastside, according to NJ.com.
Per what “multiple people aware of the process” have told NJ.com, investigators from the Division of Criminal Justice in the Office of the Attorney General are actively reaching out to staffers inside the school and setting up interviews. Longtime teacher and Eastside union representative Rich Callaway told NJ.com that two teachers have told him that they have been contacted this week.
“It would be nice for somebody to get to the bottom of this so that we can start doing things the right way,” Callaway told NJ.com. “Because right now, it’s not even close.”
It is unclear whether a formal investigation has been opened. After the release of a taxpayer-funded report, many questions about the recruiting scandal in which international players were brought to the public school still lingered.
The inquiry comes 13 weeks after the NJ.com began releasing the reports of the international pipeline that had been going through both the Eastside boys and girls programs in the last several years.
The movement also comes two months after Sen. Richard Codey (D-Essex) formally called on Porrino to investigate the actions at Eastside. Codey asked Porrino to explore whether immigration laws have been violated and if school documents were forged to make the players eligible to compete, among other issues.
“I’m glad to see that the Attorney General’s office is in there. It’s the right thing,” Sen. Richard Codey (D-Essex) told NJ.com. “But I hope this sends a message to all the superintendents, principals, coaches and athletic directors in the state. This is not about being a ‘humanitarian.’ This is about cheating the system and using these kids.”
Last month, in the wake of a 250-page report, previously suspended boys basketball coach Juan Griles was fired by the Paterson Board of Education along with assistant coach Alberto Maldonado. Also fired was athletic director Gregory Cooper, while girls basketball coach Ray Lyde Jr. was suspended for at least one year. Secretary Patty Granados was also fired from her part-time work, while Eastside principal Karen Johnson decided to retire. There is no clear tie between Johnson’s retirement and the 250-page report.
The two-month probe by New Jersey Supreme Court justice John Wallace focused solely on the current school year and has, per NJ.com, generated more than $90,000 in legal bills for the struggling school district.
You can read the entirety of NJ.com’s latest on the scandal here.