Paul Perenon is out as head football coach after 25 years at Bishop O’Dowd High, the school and a lawyer representing the coach said Monday.
Perenon, one of the East Bay’s most successful coaches with a 209-75-2 record, was called into a meeting Friday to review comments made about him by some players and subsequently was “told he wouldn’t be the football coach anymore,” attorney Stephen Jaffe said.
The school released a statement Monday evening announcing that “Perenon’s contract as varsity football coach will not be renewed, but Perenon will remain at O’Dowd as (a physical education) teacher and head of the P.E. department.”
“We want to thank Paul for his years of service as a coach and his dedication to the game of football,” O’Dowd president Steve Phelps and principal Joe Salamack said in the statement.
Perenon declined to comment, directing questions to his attorney because the case could involve litigation.
“They gave Paul a choice of resigning or them taking action against him,” Jaffe said. “Paul has no intention of resigning. If they want him out, they’re going to have to push him out the door.”
Jaffe said there will be a mediation procedure in March as the Diocese of Oakland — the administrator of Bishop O’Dowd — reviews the complaints against Perenon. Jaffe said his client will reserve the right to seek legal action against the dismissal, pending the result of mediation.
“I don’t know if it’s unique, but (Perenon’s) not aware of any other athletic employee reviewed in this manner,” Jaffe said. “There’s really no reason, no rational reason for this dismissal.”
Jaffe also is representing four O’Dowd teachers whose contracts were not renewed last year. They include golf coach Dick Roza, a 52-year veteran of the school, and music director Leonard Rossi, who had taught at O’Dowd for 38 years. Jaffe said another of his clients is a still-employed social studies teacher who has been stripped of some classroom duties.
Perenon, who won his 200th game in 2008, led the Dragons to three North Coast Section titles, most recently a 2A East Bay crown in 2004. His teams captured two straight 3A East Bay titles in 1997-98 and won four consecutive Hayward Area Athletic League titles from 1996-99.
Support for the longtime coach has begun to pour in since word of Perenon’s dismissal started circulating late last week.
“We’ve received a lot of letters from past players, present players and so on in his support that are being forwarded to the school and the diocese,” Jaffe said.
O’Dowd senior Mario Brown, the HAAL’s leading rusher this season and a first-team all-league selection, expressed his appreciation for Perenon.
“I love him as a coach,” Brown said. “It’s sad to see him go. It’s just the way things work out. He was good to me and all the O’Dowd players.”
Staff writer Katy Murphy contributed to this report.
Here are two videos that touch on the career of Perenon.