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Board puts off action on City Honors coach

Deborah Matos’ future as coach of City Honors’ girls volleyball and softball teams is still uncertain.

During a special session meeting of the Board of Education on Tuesday at City Hall, no action was taken regarding the longtime Buffalo Public Schools coach amid a complaint filed by Meg Gifford under the Dignity for All Students Act. Gifford was one of two parents who unsuccessfully tried to get Matos removed from her coaching posts in 2013 for what the parents say was excessively harsh and abusive behavior toward players.

No further details regarding the latest complaint are available.

The district had other items on the agenda beside Matos, which led to a nearly three-hour meeting before members went into executive session.

According to district spokeswoman Elena Cala, it still is undecided whether Matos will be allowed to coach City Honors’ first practice of the season Aug. 17. There is a possibility another special session could be called to settle the matter before the board’s regularly scheduled meeting on Aug. 26.

Roughly half of the 40 supporters on hand gathered 30 minutes early in the waiting room. Dressed in City Honors T-shirts, Matos supporters held up signs expressing their views as the board members walked into Room 801 to gather for the meeting. With many seats filled with City Honors faithful, board member Sharon Belton-Cottman made a motion to let someone speak on the group’s behalf because of the numbers on hand. No public-comment period was required because it was a special session.

Three Matos supporters got a chance to speak, including former player Erin Heaney – who is director of the Clean Air Coalition of Western New York, current volleyball and softball senior Caitlin Mudra and State Sen. Marc Panepinto, whose daughter Julia played volleyball and softball for Matos.

“Teachers and coaches like Deb Matos are what make our job easier as parents,” Panepinto said.

Added Class of 2005 alumnae Heaney: “She taught me what it meant to be a strong woman, to stick up for myself and how to receive criticism in a way that is required in the real world. She gives tough love, there’s no doubt about that, but she gives a lot of love.”

Board member Carl Paladino asked if Gifford or anyone on Gifford’s behalf wanted to say any words but no one came forward.

Matos did not return a message left for her by The News.