A Rhode Island high school baseball coach continues to find himself at odds with his school’s parents, who are growing increasingly frustrated that their concerns aren’t being heard.
As reported by the Providence Journal, longtime South Kingstown (Rhode Island) High School baseball coach James Sauro has been accused of abusive behavior toward his players and siphoning funds from a student activity account by both parents and former players. Yet, despite the growing chorus of voices calling for Sauro to be disciplined or fired. Instead, despite an internal investigation that was completed without any transparency in 2018, the school district refuses to consider the complaints against Sauro, or discuss them.
Rather, Sauro was back in the South Kingston dugout this spring without further questioning.
“I think it’s a systematic failure of both the School Committee and the administration to see what was presented to them,” Ken Loud, a parent of a recent graduate, told the Journal. “Let’s just reverse things: if this was a student bullying another student, what action would be taken?”
Added Bill Kazounis, whose son graduated from South Kingston and Sauro’s program a half decade earlier:
“In public schools these boys don’t have a choice for their baseball program. Kazounis, like many other parents, waited until his son graduated before saying something. “I spoke with Sauro in the gym. He just didn’t understand. He was just like: I don’t understand, we win. That’s all he said to me for 10 minutes.”
That very interaction appears to underscore the missed connection between frustrated parents and the South Kingstown administration. According to parents, the administration is happy with Sauro’s results on the field, while it’s the parents who continue to express frustration with the program’s lack of a moral compass, and stress they would be more comfortable with more accountability and less success.
The Journal goes into far more detail about the allegations against Sauro, but the highlights alone are enough to make one perform a doubletake:
The allegations against coach James Sauro include repeatedly calling a former player a “retard” in front of teammates, pressuring players to “blitz” neighborhoods to sell coupon books to raise money, and calling players out of class during the school day to perform maintenance on the baseball field a few blocks away.
School Department records show the (student activities) fund has been used to pay for, among other things: a $50 fine levied against Sauro by the Rhode Island Interscholastic League for getting ejected from a game; a “coaches dinner” for 40 people that cost $600; a $200 fine for an assistant coach who violated interscholastic league rules by coaching an AAU team out of season; stipends for “volunteer” coaches; and $400 for sponsorship/raffle tickets to benefit the URI baseball team.
Whether Sauro continues to evade further investigation and scrutiny remains to be seen. For now, the layers involved in his defense include the school’s administration, which apparently remains in his corner, and the local teacher’s union, which was privy to a closed door meeting before the spring baseball season began when the South Kingstown School Committee discussed a, “Coaching investigation,” without ever providing additional details.
Regardless of where one comes down in this case, one thing is certain: More transparency would sure seem to clear up some of the frustration on both sides, leading to some sort of a resolution.