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Interim Named Until Legal Issues Are Resolved

By Rich Thomaselli
HVSR Staff

In the wake of the arrest of Haldane High School girls basketball coach Tyrone Searight, the school district has placed the coach on a leave of absence and named JV coach Jessica Perrone as the interim varsity leader.

The decision was made last week in a letter from athletic director Chris Salumn to parents and players of the girls basketball program, a letter obtained by the Putnam News & Recorder newspaper. Salumn and Haldane Central School District Superintendent Dr. Phil Benante made the decision jointly.

“Dr. Benante and I met with Coach Searight (last week) and had a very constructive conversation,” Salumn wrote. “We agreed that it was in the best interest of both Coach Searight and the school district for him to take a leave of absence for the time being while he works to resolve his personal legal issues. Coach Searight’s status with the team will be re-evaluated when the legal matter is resolved.”

Searight, who has led the Blue Devils to six consecutive Section 1 championships and a state Final Four appearance, was one of two men arrested on charges of third-degree grand larceny and two counts of fraudulent practices, both felonies. He has maintained his innocence and said the issue was one of a paperwork problem.

New York State Inspector General Letizia Tagliafierro announced the separate arrests and said Searight collected more than $11,000 in workers’ compensation benefits after claiming he suffered an on-the-job injury as a bus driver for the MTA Bus Company. He reported a work injury to his left knee on November 7, 2016, and collected workers’ compensation wage indemnity benefits from December 2016 to May 2017.

“Between November 2016 and March 2017, Searight was observed coaching the team at games and running practices,” the IG’s office said in a statement. “Video surveillance showed Searight bending, squatting, pacing, waving his arms and abruptly standing up from the sidelines at several games.”

Salumn wrote that a leave of absence “is necessary to provide our girls with an opportunity to focus on their season and give them the best opportunity to be successful.”

Perrone is a former college basketball player who certainly knows the Xs and Os of basketball and the system that Haldane uses.

“Coach Perrone is familiar with many of our student-athletes and their families, and I believe she is in a good position to make this transition as smooth as possible,” Salumn wrote. “At this time I will be searching for a new Junior Varsity coach. If I am not able to find a Junior Varsity replacement, Coach Perrone is prepared to coach both teams for the 2019-2020 season.”

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