District Cancels Eastside's Saturday Passaic County Tournament Game, Cites Investigation

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PATERSON, N.J. – The NJSIAA supports the Paterson Public Schools’ decision to withdraw Eastside High School from both the state and county tournaments they said in a statement Thursday.

Wednesday evening in a brief statement the NJSIAA announced that the Paterson School district informed them that as part of an ongoing investigation the NJSIAA should “proceed with seeding the boys basketball tournament without Paterson Eastside”.

On Thursday the district announced that “Consistent with this action, the District has also decided to withdraw the Eastside boys team from the Passaic County Tournament Championship game being held this Saturday”. The NJSIAA also released a statement Thursday saying the “NJSIAA supports Paterson Public Schools’ decision to withdraw Paterson Eastside High School from the NJSIAA State Boys Basketball Tournament and the Passaic County Tournament.  Given the evolving nature of this situation, NJSIAA remains in communication with the district and its representatives to assess compliance with NJSIAA rules and regulations and ensure the safety and well-being of student athletes”.

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Paterson Eastside High School was the number one ranked team in their conference with a stellar 17-2 record when it was announced by the district that head coach Juan Griles and assistant coach Al Maldonado were suspended. The suspension stemmed from an explosive report that found that six players on his team, including the starting point guard, were living in his condo.

Griles is being investigated by Division of Child Protection and Permanency for child welfare issuing stemming from six players, four of which are Nigerian nationals, two of which are Puerto Rican nationals. photographed and recording the students leaving Griles house on multiple mornings and moved to obtain school records. This investigation was started when a district teacher allegedly found one of the students sleeping in a Dunkin Donuts in the city, after being exiled from the house by the coach.

Last weekend Maldonado spoke to SNY in his lawyers officer, the first time he has spoken to the media since being suspended from the team over a week ago. Maldonado sought to put to rest claims and what he called a bit of "sensationalism" about the circumstances of the six children in question, although he said he was saddened and shocked when initial reports came out.

Maldonado claimed in the interview on SNY that in fact the only student he could speak for was his god-son whom resided with him under the consent of the boys mother who lives in Puerto Rico. Maldonado also claimed he had no knowledge of two of the remaining players, one of which was on a roster in another state as early as last summer.

A previous report on TAPinto Paterson citing information from multiple reports that name Maldonado and Griles guardians of all the kids was found to not have been provided by the district and was retracted. Earlier last week did report that four of the children were under guardianship of the coaches, but Terry Corallo district spokeswoman said she could not confirm in an email to TAPinto Paterson citing the open investigation.

The district has hired Former Justice John Wallace has been retained as Monitor for all district athletic programs.  His responsibilities will include, investigating of this issue making sure the district continues to work collaboratively with DCP&P and NJSIAA, among other duties.

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