Peter Wagner Jr. is the newest head coach of the Baldwin High School football program, the Baldwin-Whitehall School Board decided by a 6-3 vote on Wednesday night.
Wagner, the dean of students at Baldwin High, has served as the assistant head coach and offensive coordinator for the high school's varsity team for the past two seasons. He has been an overall assistant in the program for the past four seasons.
School board member Tracy Macek motioned for Wagner to be the new head coach after board member George L. Pry's motion to hire Greg Perry failed by a 5-4 vote.
(Pry was acting on a recommendation made by B-W School District administration.)
Voting for Perry were Nancy Lee Crowder, Nancy Sciulli DiNardo, Pry and Martin Michael Schmotzer.
After the administration's recommendation failed, voting for Wagner were Larry Pantuso, Schmotzer, Ray Rosing, Macek, Diana Kazour and Kevin J. Fischer.
Perry was the head football coach at Seton-La Salle Catholic High School in Mt. Lebanon from 2005 to 2012. He led Seton-La Salle to seven playoffs appearances in his eight seasons there while compiling a 65-21 overall record in the WPIAL's AA, or second-lowest, classification.
Baldwin competes in the highest, or AAAA, classification. Over the same eight years while Perry was leading Seton, Baldwin went 19-56 and made the playoffs twice.
Wagner takes over at Baldwin for his former boss—Jim Wehner, who resigned from the Baldwin head coaching job in January after four seasons and a 12-25 overall record.
Wagner will officially step into his new role on July 1 at a salary of $11,476 per year. Wehner's head coaching salary at Baldwin was $11,035 per year.
Wagner does not have head coaching experience, which a supporter of Perry's—Whitehall Borough resident Gary Kelly of Windvale Drive—pointed out during public comments time at Wednesday night's board meeting.
In fact, Kelly brought with him to the meeting an extracurricular job posting issued by the Baldwin-Whitehall School District Office that calls for the new head coach to have a "minimum 5 years head football coaching experience at the varsity high school or the collegiate levels, proven track record as a head football coach and strong leadership qualities."
Kelly said that he has three sons who all went through the Seton-La Salle football program.
"I am embarrassed to be a member and a taxpayer of this community," Kelly said after seeing the Perry motion fail. "The action that you took tonight is not only wrong, but I think it's possibly illegal. You published a job posting that very specifically says 'required' a minimum of five years.
"I would ask that you reconsider the action because I really do think there's a potential that you exposed this district to a lawsuit."
Asked to give his legal opinion, district solicitor Ed Lawrence said, "I can't imagine that it's illegal for this board to have taken the action it took. I can't promise you some court couldn't.
"I think it's the board's prerogative to hire whoever they want."
Despite the listed requirements, Wagner was still interviewed for the head coaching job.
Schmotzer said that the school board did not direct who to interview or who not to interview and that it did not write the job posting that Kelly was referring to.
"If you've got a complaint," Schmotzer said, "address it to administration, not to the board."
Kelly was reached for additional comment after the meeting.
"This ends up being like theater," Kelly said, "because you publish something with absolutely no intention of following through on the rules that you established.
"What they did tonight was shameful."
Rosing said that he voted for Wagner because he likes to see the head coaching job staying in-house.
"He's worked with the kids. He knows the kids," Rosing said. "Everyone who's ever gotten a job somewhere, someone has given them a chance."
Pry said that Wagner's lack of experience prompted his "no" vote for him.
Read through other Baldwin-Whitehall School Board items here.
And check back with the Baldwin-Whitehall Patch for more news from Wednesday night's school board meeting.
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