SOMERVILLE – A former high school football coach is suing the borough Board of Education and other school officials alleging that he was wrongfully terminated from his position.
Christopher Casamento and his wife, Patricia Casamento, have filed a lawsuit against the Somerville Board of Education, former Superintendent Timothy Purnell, Somerville High School Principal Gerard Foley, Athletic Director Kyle Franey and current football coach Jeffrey Vanderbeek, former owner of the New Jersey Devils hockey team.
The lawsuit was filed in the civil division of the Somerset County Superior Court in May 2017.
Casamento, who, in addition to serving as the head football coach, held positions as a special-education teacher and weight room supervisor at Somerville High School, is claiming that he was wrongfully terminated from his positions in June 2016.
He is claiming that the defendants “engaged in a conspiracy,” subjecting him to “an intolerable, abusive, and hostile work environment.”
Before being hired at Somerville High School, Casamento served as a football coach at high schools in New Brunswick and Bound Brook. He left a tenured position at West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North for the job in Somerville, according to the lawsuit.
Before Casamento was hired, Somerville High School’s football team, the Pioneers, had fallen upon difficult times in recent seasons and had not won a game since October 2012, according to the lawsuit.
The school’s former athletic director, Scott Hade, sought out Casamento to replace then-head coach Skip Fuller, who went 2-18 in his two seasons with the Pioneers, including a 0-10 record in 2013, according to the lawsuit.
In order to have Casamento agree to the position at Somerville, Hade, according to the lawsuit, promised Casamento that he would be given four years to turn around the high school’s football team.
Casamento then left West Windsor-Plainsboro and was hired for the coaching position at Somerville in February 2014. In addition, Casamento was also made the weight room supervisor.
He was paid an annual stipend of $11,557 for the coaching position and $43 an hour for the weight room supervisor role.
In March, Casamento was hired by the Somerville Board of Education as a special-education teacher at the high school for the 2014-2015 school year. He was paid a salary of $87,729.
According to the lawsuit, Casamento had served in various high school coaching positions and taught special education for 22 years.
Casamento “had never received a poor teaching evaluation, had never received a ‘partially effective’ rating, and had never been denied tenure in any teaching position” until his experience at Somerville High School, according to the lawsuit,