PATERSON, N.J.- In a tense showdown on Wednesday Night, the Paterson Public Schools Board of Education voted 5-2 to approve the termination of Supervisor of Athletics Gregory Cooper, Eastside High School Basketball Coach Juan Griles, and Eastside High School Assistant Boys Basketball Coach Alberto Maldonado.
This decision came after Griles was 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.
NJ.com came out with an explosive report nearly a couple weeks ago in which they found six players living with Griles. The news source photographed and recorded students leaving Griles’ house on multiple mornings and moved to obtain school records. The investigation started after a district teacher allegedly found one of the students sleeping in one of the city’s Dunkin Donuts, after being exiled from the house by the coach.
Several parents, players, and former players from Griles’ team came out to support the coach.
Kyrie Jackson, who was part of the 2010 Eastside Boys’ Basketball Championship, quoted Denzel Washington saying, “If you don’t read the newspaper you’re uninformed. If you do read the newspaper you’re misinformed.” Jackson used Washington’s quote to talk about the media’s claims on Griles’ and stated that there is no proof of any wrongdoing. He went into depth on how a lot of media outlets try to the first to release a story, but at times they don’t publish the correct information. “Remember the facts,” Jackson said to the media.
Joyce Addison, one of the mothers of the team, said, “Coach Juan deserves his job. Everything is fake about what they[the media] said [about Griles].” Addison said that Gries was always there for her child and the other players. She explained on how Gries started out living in the projects, worked his way up to play basketball internationally and eventually became the winning coach at Eastside. “There have been many times where Gries went out of his way to help a player out and make sure that their problem is solved,” Addison said. The mother added that she wouldn’t trust her son with Griles had those claims made about him been true.
Khadija Smith, mother of senior leading point guard, Aljumu “Moo Moo” Johnson, also came to the coach’s defense. Smith stated, “My older son was killed, and when Moo Moo wanted to play basketball, Coach Juan made sure that I can depend on him to keep my child safe.” Smith went further and said that members of the Eastside team subjected to being bullied on social media with the use of memes.
From some supporters of Griles, there is speculation that John F. Kennedy High School Basketball Coaches are trying to oust Griles for the sake of rivalry and pure jealousy. One resident claimed, “We’ve been a successful team in Paterson that people at JFK are jealous. We[Eastside] did a promo with Nike, we won various awards. We could’ve won the championship this year if it[the suspension] didn’t happen.”
Commissioner Manny Martinez voted yes on the termination of Cooper, Griles, and Maldonado. He said that the topic itself is “uncomfortable.” “I don’t know them[Cooper, Griles, Maldonado] personally, but I do know their impact,” said Martinez, “As a board, we are provided information and we have to make decisions based on that information. Given that the third party investigation is what we have to rely on, I have to vote based on the facts of the investigation.” Martinez told people that the report where they are basing their vote on can be OPRA’d and they can look at the facts themselves.
Commissioner Emmanuel Capers, who voted no, explained, “There were too many inconsistencies in the ‘Wallace Report.’ There were facts that were not brought out. Our coaches and athletic director had been done unjustly- it wasn’t a fair process,” Capers went further to say, “I’m disappointed on how my colleagues voted tonight, but at the end of the day, it is what it is.”
Below is a link to the Eastside Nike Promo: