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Ousted Saugus football coach goes on the offensive

Anthony Nalen was dismissed as head football coach at Saugus High. (Item File Photo)

SAUGUS — Anthony Nalen has been dismissed as head football coach at Saugus High School.

Nalen, a computer science teacher at Belmonte Middle School in Saugus, learned the news Tuesday when principal Myra Monto handed him a letter from superintendent Dr. David DeRuosi during the middle of a class he was teaching, according to Nalen’s lawyer, Michael Castano.  

The letter cited “failure to supervise” as the reason for Nalen’s dismissal, said Castano, of Revere.

Nalen will seek an injunction Thursday in Newburyport District Court seeking reinstatement, Castano said.

Nalen’s termination stems from an alleged incident that took place on Aug. 17, the first day of the team’s preseason, in which a player practiced in his underwear because he didn’t have the required red, white or black shorts.

Saugus police, who had been asked to investigate the incident, concluded, in a 5-page report issued last week, that no crimes were committed in connection with the incident. However, DeRuosi said last Thursday that despite the police report, Nalen had not been reinstated. He also confirmed that Nalen’s assistants had been let go because they wouldn’t coach the team’s opening game without him.

DeRuosi said after the report was issued that the school department needed to follow additional procedural steps before making a decision on Nalen’s future.

Castano also confirmed that he and Nalen will seek an injunction hearing Thursday at 2 p.m. He said he believes a decision will be made and that Nalen hopes to be reinstated.

“He’s devastated because all along all he’s wanted to do is coach Saugus football,” Castano said. “He didn’t know how to handle (Tuesday). First of all, it was inappropriate for the principal to hand him a notice in the middle of class. When he received it, he didn’t know what he was getting. When he opened it, he was devastated.

“He came into the season expecting a fun and successful football season. That was taken away from him and the players at Saugus through no fault of their own, nor any fault of my client.”

Castano said the letter handed to Nalen stated that his dismissal was a result of an investigation led by either “the superintendent or the superintendent’s office.” Castano said news of a separate investigation came as a surprise to both him and Nalen as they were led to believe the police investigation was the only one about the alleged incident.

“All along this process, counsel for the administration has told Anthony and myself they weren’t handling the investigation because they didn’t think it’d be right for them to handle it in-house,” Castano said. “They wanted to send it to a third party. The letter states that (DeRuosi’s) investigation led to this conclusion.

“It said something to the effect of ‘based on an investigation by my office,’  which would lead you to believe it’s his investigation,” Castano said. “That’s the exact opposite of what we were told all along, which was that a third party was doing the investigation.”

Dr. David DeRuosi, Superintendent of Schools, declined to comment on the matter except to say that there will be an “intent to dismiss” hearing, similar to an exit interview, Thursday morning. DeRuosi explained that the hearing is part of the school’s “due process”

“This is where we are in the process,” said DeRuosi. “It’s still a personnel issue at this point.”

In the meantime, interim Sachems coach Mike Mabee has directed the team through the first two weeks of the season. The Sachems fell to Amesbury (30-12) in their season opener and Northeast (26-18) last Friday night. Saugus hosts Salem Saturday afternoon (1) for its home opener at Stackpole Field.

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