Perry Hall removes coach

Perry Hall football coach Nick Arminio has been relieved of his duties but said he hasn't been given a reason for the dismissal. Assistant coach Bob Hruz has taken over the team.

Arminio, who has been head coach at Perry Hall since 2003 but not a teacher there, was charged in 1992 with two counts of criminal sexual contact when he was a gym teacher and coach at Toms River (N.J.) High School East, according to the Associated Press.

Perry Hall officials were asked about the allegations Oct. 2 by the news service, and, two days later, Perry Hall principal Brian G. Gonzalez went onto the practice field to remove Arminio. The coach was never convicted of the charges involving three students, and one of them recanted the allegations in an affidavit, the Associated Press reported.

"I'm innocent and the charges against me were dismissed," Arminio said last night by phone.

Baltimore County school officials confirmed that Arminio is no longer employed by the school system. But a spokeswoman said she could not say whether he resigned or was fired, citing personnel policies.

Athletic director Kathy Graybeal referred questions on the matter to Gonzalez. When reached at his home last night, Gonzalez said, "I don't take calls at home."

The school system conducts "full background checks" for teachers and other employees. The checks include fingerprinting applicants and a search of the FBI's national database that would reveal information about a person's criminal history, spokeswoman Kara Calder said.

"We rely on the criminal justice system to take action and issue convictions when an individual may be deemed a threat to children," Calder said. "Certainly, an important component of the background check pertains to charges or convictions regarding misconduct with children."

Calder said she did not know whether these background checks reveal only convictions or whether they also turn up charges that don't result in convictions.

Arminio was hired as a physical education teacher at another Baltimore County school, Eastern Tech, in 1995, but resigned in 1999 when his teaching license was revoked in New Jersey, the AP reported. Arminio denied his teaching license had been revoked.

Calder couldn't confirm whether a new background check had been performed when Arminio resigned from the school system and then reapplied for the coaching job, a position that didn't require a teaching license.

Some parents of football players and cheerleaders at Perry Hall want a reason for Arminio's dismissal, and some have started an online petition drive asking for his return as coach.

Brian Wild, the parent of a sophomore junior varsity cheerleader, Cori Wild, said: "If they just come out and say why, that's that. You can either accept it or not accept it."

"The kids are in the middle of an ugly situation that has been totally mishandled," said another parent who wished to remain anonymous because his son is a Perry Hall football player.

"I've known him for five years, and he's not just about football. He cares about the kids and takes interest in their succeeding in the classroom, too. I would trust any of my children with him."

That same father said parents want answers from school officials.

"They won't give us a meeting, and all they keep telling us is he has been released of his duties," he said.

pat.omalley@baltsun.com gina.davis@baltsun.com

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