Students, Parents React at School Board Meeting

Craig Garland was unhappy about how his son was treated.
Craig Garland was unhappy about how his son was treated. (Photo by - Joseph D. Sullivan)
May 8, 2003

May 9, 2003, 1:14 PM EDT


The Massapequa High School auditorium last night was far more than crowded than it normally is for its school board meeting, with good reason.

High school students sat alongside parents, former varsity baseball players and concerned residents, each with his or her own opinion of the news that 15 baseball players were suspended for attending a strip club while on a recent team trip to Florida.

Several in attendance spoke on behalf of the 15 suspended players before the school board.

"Common criminals were treated better than these children were treated," said Craig Garland, whose son Bobby, 17, was one of four players who did not go to the strip club and was not suspended. "I'd like to see these boys reinstated," Garland added. "They received some suspensions. Time served. Put them back in the classroom and back on the ballfield."

But while the meeting was taking place, many people with Massapequa ties stood in the hallway outside the auditorium, speaking with reporters about the absurdity of the players' decision and the school's handling of the suspensions.

"They get to go to Florida, go to a strip club and get out of school for three days. I'm the one that's being punished," said Lee Hirsch, a 17-year-old senior. "They're just being punished for acting like teenage boys."

"Where were the chaperones if this indeed happened?" said one mother, who asked not to be identified. "[We have] 15, 16, 17-year-old kids going to a strip club. The school pays for chaperones."

Anthony Scali, a freshman at Farmingdale College, played baseball at Massapequa and disputed reports that strip clubs visits were tradition of Massapequa team trips. "We didn't go to topless bars," he said. "We just walked on the beach and hung out."

Several alumni spoke out in support of coach Bob Dell and assistant Tom Sheedy, who lost their coaching jobs pending the results of school investigation, which was announced at the meeting.

"Hands down, coach Dell and coach Sheedy are the best coaches I've ever played for," said Chris Scarola, who captained last year's team.

Michael Thier contributed to this story.