The Paterson Public School District announced wide-ranging penalties to its athletics department Friday afternoon, including the suspensions of three district employees and the withdrawal of the Paterson Eastside High School girls basketball team from next week's state tournament.
Among those penalized are Eastside athletic supervisor Gregory Cooper, who has been suspended with pay; Eastside girls basketball coach Ray Lyde Jr., suspended with pay from his district teaching position and suspended without pay from his coaching job; and Eastside track coach Natalie Jordan, suspended with pay from her teaching position and suspended without pay from her coaching duties.
New questions, including human trafficking concerns, broadside hoops power
The district also placed Paterson Kennedy athletic supervisor Scott Durham in-charge of oversight of Eastside athletics for the remainder of the year, while New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association assistant director Larry White has agreed to provide professional development and guidance to the department.
The decision comes six hours after NJ Advance Media published a multi-layered investigation uncovering an international pipeline of talented players into both the girls and boys programs since 2013. The foreign players may have violated federal immigration laws by enrolling at Eastside, and most have claimed to live at residences associated with district teachers and coaches.
One prominent immigration attorney suggested that district officials are "turning a blind eye to child smuggling and child trafficking."
"We take this matter very seriously -- especially as it pertains to the well-being of our students," Paterson district spokeswoman Terry Corallo said in a statement released to NJ Advance Media. "The district continues with its Eastside athletics investigation, led by former Justice John Wallace."
Friday's developments also come less than three weeks after an NJ Advance Media report uncovered questionable guardianship practices on the Eastside boys team, prompting the team's head coach and top assistant to be suspended and the team to withdraw from both the state and county tournaments.
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