By CAROL GORGA WILLIAMS
The heads, as they say, have begun to roll. When the Asbury Park High School Blue Bishops were forced last month to forfeit their first game of the season – because they could not field the appropriate number of eligible players – School Superintendent Dr. RaShawn M. Adams acknowledged mistakes had been made.
He said an investigation already was under way to determine how such an oversight could have occurred.
Typically, the responsibility to determine player eligibility rested with the school’s guidance department which then hands the information up to the building principal: in this case, the recently installed Bridget O’Neill. At the time of the forfeiture, Adams praised O’Neill’s work on the matter, which requires the computation of academic credits. It was determined some players were not eligible to play and Adams made the call to forfeit the initial game only hours before the game was to have started.
At last week’s school board meeting – without comment – the district’s Athletic Director Mark Gerbino was “re-assigned.” According to the agenda, Gerbino was named administrator on Special Assignment, effective Sept. 23. District Communications Coordinator Chanta L. Jackson declined to provide more information, saying it was a personnel issue and therefore exempt from public review.
At the same meeting, school board officials approved revisions to two job descriptions: that as director of athletics, physical education and health and that of administrator of special assignment. Jackson declined to release those revised job descriptions, again citing the personnel exception.
The board also approved a job title change – recommended by Adams – from principal on special assignment to administrator on special assignment. Such an administrator would now report to the director of human resources, according to the limited information available from the agenda.
Additional details about the job title change were not released because, Jackson explained, it was a personnel matter.
The now vacated job of athletic director already has been posted. Attempts to reach Gerbino were unsuccessful. An email query to his work address was returned as blocked.
Another staff member – identified only by employee number – was placed on “administrative leave” effective Sept. 12 “pending results of investigation.” Officials would not release the employee’s name although the employee is widely believed to be connected to the Athletic Department.
Last year, Gerbino was temporarily suspended when then- head coach Nick Famularo was found naked and trespassing at the high school football stadium on Nov. 6, 2021 hours before a game. Also temporarily suspended at the time were assistant football coach and paraprofessional Lamar Davenport and assistant football coach Matt Ardizzone. They were reinstated after an investigation.Davenport is now head football coach. Famularo was fired as coach.
Before that, Gerbino and Adams became embroiled in a controversy after district substitute teacher (and current school board candidate) Remond Palmer applied to be head basketball coach. Palmer was rejected.
Gerbino is a faculty favorite. In 2021, as the district was beginning its search to replace outgoing Superintendent Sancha Gray, Gerbino was among three current faculty who applied for the position. Just one month before Adams was moved from interim to permanent schools superintendent, the district staff engaged in a “sick out” to protest Adams’s appointment. Classes and after-school activities were cancelled that day after the district could not find 45 substitute teachers to stand in for absent faculty. Gerbino also appeared as the most supported superintendent candidate by the union, in polling by the Asbury Park Education Association.
Adams is the sixth superintendent in eight years for the district plagued by declining enrollment and troubling graduation rates, among other issues.
According to his Linkedin biography, Gerbino served as Asbury Park High School principal beginning in July 2017. Before that, he served as principal at Thurgood Marshall Elementary School beginning in 2012. For two years prior to the Marshall appointment, he lists his job as principal in the school district.