Hudson Valley Sports Report
Don't Miss

HVSR EXCLUSIVE BREAKING NEWS: Wappingers Central School District alleges John Jay softball coach Bonnie Schilling changed grades

By Rich Thomaselli
HVSR Staff

Longtime John Jay High School guidance counselor and state championship-winning softball coach Bonnie Schilling was placed on administrative leave in March because the Wappingers Central School District believes she changed her son’s grades on his transcript, Hudson Valley Sports Report has learned.

Schilling was presented with the charges by the district about 10 days ago, her attorney, Goshen-based Michael Sussman, confirmed to HVSR on Monday night.

Sussman has requested a hearing for Schilling with the state education office and will be presented with a list of hearing officers to choose from. How long that will take is unknown at this point.

Schilling referred calls to Sussman. Attempts to reach Wappingers Central School District Superintendent Marco Pochintesta and School Board President Ved Shravah on Monday night were unsuccessful. When HVSR reached both two weeks ago and asked whether the rumors of grade-changing were true, Pochintesta declined to comment but Shravah cryptically said: “I cannot make any comment at this time on this matter. This is a judicial matter. Our normal procdure is to do an investigation and if this matter is criminal the police get involved, too. I don’t know if it’s to that extent.”

Sussman said Schilling has not been charged with a crime by the police.

“There are no other charges,” Sussman told HVSR. “Basically, they claim that in early February of 2014 she went into the computer system and changed her son’s transcript to facilitate her son’s entry into a private prep school.”

Schilling’s son played football at John Jay and was seeking to transfer.

Schilling’s office computers were confiscated and she was placed on administrative leave on March 27, little more than a week before the Patriots opened the season. Hudson Valley Sports Report first reported that Schilling was placed on leave on April 4. She was replaced by jayvee coach Mike Crocco.

“The notion she was the only person who could have made changes to her son’s transcript is not factual,” Sussman said. “More than one person had access to that (transcript) and we believe others had motive to do so.”

Separately, HVSR has learned that the Wappingers Central School District sent a notice to all personnel to change their computer passwords right around the time Schilling is alleged to have falsified the transcript. Whether that was in response to a breach in computer security or a regular notice to change passwords, or whether it ends up being relevant to Schilling’s case, is unknown.

Schilling is one of the greatest softball players turned coach ever in the Hudson Valley. She would have been entering her 19th season as coach of the Patriots. She has won 318 games, two state titles, 11 Section One championships and seven regional crowns.

As a player at John Jay, Schilling earned a Division I scholarship to UMass-Amherst. She is a member of the Dutchess County Sports Hall of Fame.

“She should not be judged guilty,” said Sussman. “She is a very acclaimed coach. Being taken off the field leads people to believe she’s guilty and she’s had no due process whatsoever. That’s a sad state of affairs that her reputation is sullied this way.”

Sussman is a well-known lawyer who specializes in education-related cases. He is also representing former Poughkeepsie High School football coach Ken Barger in his case, in which he was alleged to have given special accommodations to students taking the state Regents exams; the former Marlboro High School football players and their parents who are trying to sue football coach Rich Ward; and former Army baseball coach Joe Sottolano, who was let go and is alleging wrongful termination.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *