2 Neshaminy coaches replaced for backing striking teachers

Two boys basketball coaches who honored the picket lines of striking Neshaminy teachers have been suspended and replaced, district officials said Thursday.

The officials declined to name the high school coaches, but sources said they are Russ Selger, an assistant coach for the boys’ varsity basketball team, and Bryan McGinty, coach of the ninth-grade team.

The coaches are not district teachers, but sources said they are married to members of the Neshaminy Federation of Teachers, which has been on strike since Jan. 9. The union’s 654 members were scheduled to return to work Friday, to meet a state requirement to provide 180 school days.          

“They didn’t report to work,” school board President Ritchie Webb said of the coaches, who were sent suspension letters last week by high school Principal Rob McGee. “If you’re not doing your job, you will be suspended, subject to permanent termination. Only the school board can terminate an employee.”

Sports and other extracurricular activities have gone on during the strike, which the union called out of frustration over a 3½-year contract impasse. The boy’s varsity coach, Jerry Devine, is an NFT member, so assistant coaches have handled the team for its four games during the strike.

“I support Dr. McGee,” Webb said. “The district’s programs and after-school activities are of great importance. Administrators are filling in whenever possible, and there’s the outside employees. They knew in advance that they were expected to show up for work.”

The number of coaches from outside the district’s staff is “minimal,” Webb said.   “Teachers are usually offered the positions first, then outside people.”

The pay ranges from $3,000 to $10,000, Webb said. “I’d suspect for these [basketball] positions, they’d be closer to $3,000.”

McGee, who has filled in as coach of the bowling team, declined to comment on the suspensions. Felger and McGinty could not be reached for comment.

Luke Carrezola, a sophomore forward on the varsity team, said that Felger had coached “the big guys. He taught me a lot of moves. He’s a real nice guy, but he reminds us to bring an attitude on the court.”