- Last Updated: 4:52 AM, May 18, 2012
- Posted: 2:25 AM, May 18, 2012
Mike Camardese couldn’t walk two steps without being stopped by a student. Each one shook his hand, patted him on the back or asked how they could help. Others shouted encouragement from across the street.
The longtime Canarsie football coach and retired physical education teacher, currently out of the job he has done for nearly three decades, smiled and nodded.
“It’s like a funeral around here,” he said, shaking his head like he was disagreeing with a holding penalty in a resigned manner.
For the time being, it is.
On May 7, Camardese, 56, was given an unsatisfactory rating by school administrators, which gives them the power to dismiss him. The job opening has been posted, but a replacement has yet to be named. Junior varsity coach Joseph Brown is running spring practices.
One of the longest-tenured and winningest football coaches in New York City, Camardese is appealing the ‘U’ rating with the United Federation of Teachers, but that could take up to eight months, the coach said. He declined to elaborate on the basis of ‘U’ rating for fear it could hurt his appeal, but did say it was “little irrelevant things they are trying to get me. It’s no scandal. It’s all nonsense.”
Camardese, for example, has been faulted for having alumni in the locker room with the team. He's been blamed for assistant coaches parking in unauthorized parkings spots, he said.
Athletic director Dale Wilson referred all comments to Department of Education spokesperson Margie Feinberg. In a statement, she said: “We cannot comment on a teacher's personnel record. The campus has strong PSAL programs for students who attend schools there.”
Since Canarsie was phased out a few years ago and turned into Canarsie Educational Campus, a series of smaller schools, Camardese said the school has changed. A group of principals for each school was brought in and he has butted heads with school administrators on a variety of issues
“For 30 years I had never had a problem with anybody,” said Camardese, who compiled a 194-100 mark, led the Chiefs to four city championship games, the last one in 2007, and sent countless athletes to play at the next level, including NFL players Leon Williams and Lance Schulters. “I’m here for the kids. It’s the kids who are getting hurt.”
One of those such kids is Donchervel Smith, Canarsie’s hulking middle linebacker/fullback. The junior was just beginning to pick up significant Division I interest when Camardese was issued the ‘U’ rating. He’s spoken with Temple, Rutgers, Syracuse and Maine over the phone, but there is nobody at the actual school to help in the process.Follow @NYPostsports