RYE, N.Y. -- Former Rye High School girls basketball coach Brian Lavelle has won a lawsuit against the school district that fired him after accusing him of stealing from a student.
Under the settlement, the Rye City School District was ordered to publicly apologize to Lavelle for his termination.
Lavelle was hired as the new coach of the girls varsity basketball team for the fall 2010 season. Before the team played its first game, the district accused Lavelle of stealing $30 cash and two credit cards from a student's bag. The district claimed that it had video surveillance of Lavelle committing the act, though Lavelle maintained his innocence, saying he was just checking the bag to see if it belonged to one of his players.
Lavelle was suspended and then fired shortly after the incident. No charges were ever filed against him. In early 2011, he filed a defamation lawsuit against the school district, which has been ruled in his favor, according to his attorney, Gerald DiEdwards.
Most of the terms of the settlement are confidential and not to be disclosed, but one of the requirements was that the school district release the following statement apologizing to Lavelle for firing him:
"In December 2010, Brian Lavelle was terminated as girls varsity basketball coach as a result of an investigation conducted by a former employee of the Rye City School District. It was later revealed that this initial investigation was incomplete and that Brian Lavelle should not have been terminated. The School District apologizes to Mr. Lavelle. In the future, the Rye City School District would welcome the opportunity to consider Mr. Lavelle for another coaching position."
"Nothing will ever put him back in the position that he was in," DiEdwards said.
DiEdwards said that, because a Google search of Lavelle's name mostly brings up items pertaining to his firing, Lavelle is hoping that the apology and court ruling can help his reputation.
"He has been unable to get a coaching job in Westchester," DiEdwards said. Lavelle has been coaching for more than 30 years, and has spent his time volunteering in Long Island, just to be involved in the game. "His hope is that once the press starts reporting on this, it will open up more opportunities to get back on the court again."
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