B y Dan King
The Whitehall High School football team has qualified for sectionals for the last four years, including three under head coach Justin Culligan, but on Monday the Board of Education declined to appoint Culligan for the upcoming season.
After the vote on Culligan, speculation grew about the potential of a return by longtime Railroader head coach John Millett, whose coaching career was stopped just shy of 200 career wins, as he currently sits at 195.
“I had put in for the job and had an interview, but I didn’t get it,” Millett said, “That’s all I can say. It’s up to the Board of Education now.”
Ted LaRose moved that the board appoint Culligan as head coach, and Mark DeLuca seconded the motion, but the board voted 6-3 to deny the appointment.
No one on the board would explain the action.
“I cannot give you the specifics on why,” board member Jeremy Putorti said, “But information we’ve received and observations we’ve made dictated this decision.”
“I can’t and wouldn’t comment,” said board president Virginia Rivette. “It’s unethical.”
Superintendent Elizabeth Legault had a similar perspective to that of Putorti and Rivette.
“That’s a personnel issue,” Legault said. “The board made their vote in public session, they have the right to do that and they have their own reasons for doing so.”
Culligan, who is also a social studies teacher at the high school, was present at the board meeting.
“I was just kind of curious, it’s getting close to the season and I hadn’t heard anything,” Culligan said, “It’s a tentative situation, I don’t want to say too much, but I hope this will all work out soon.”
Culligan was recommended by the Whitehall Football Committee, which conducted the interviews. The committee consists of athletic director Keith Redmond, elementary principal Brett Lamey and Bob Diekel, modified coach and science teacher.
With football season about a month away, a decision on just who will be the head coach apparently will be determined at the board’s August meeting, close to the start of the season.