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Kingman Daily Miner | Kingman, Arizona

home : sports : local April 29, 2016

8/10/2014 6:00:00 AM
Kingman High investigating coach after tip
Assistant football coach-school librarian's background questioned
Kingman High assistant coach Mike Pagliaro works with members of the Bulldogs kick-off coverage team during Friday’s practice, hours after a tip sparked an investigation into his past.
Kingman High assistant coach Mike Pagliaro works with members of the Bulldogs kick-off coverage team during Friday’s practice, hours after a tip sparked an investigation into his past.
Mangled mail an odd part of the Mike Pagliaro story
KINGMAN - The circumstances surrounding Mike Pagliaro's altered letter of recommendation from his Wickenburg principal could have easily come from the Associated Press' Odd News section.

Tipster Justin Blackburn notified the superintendent at Buckholts High (Texas) that the hiring of Pagliaro might not have been a great choice for them. Before Buckholts superintendent Kent Dutton could call Wickenburg principal Jackie Jacobson about the matter, Jacobson received something out of the ordinary.

The Wickenburg Sun reported it this way: "Jacobson had received a package from the United States Post Office with a note that explained the contents had been found loose in a Phoenix office after the envelope containing the material had been destroyed. So the post office reassembled the package and sent it to Wickenburg High because Wickenburg letterhead was found in the contents that apparently was intended as an application to another school.

"In examining the unexpected package from the post office, Jacobson discovered a letter of recommendation she carefully drafted for Pagliaro upon his resignation. She noticed, however, the letter had been modified - with some of Pagliaro's accomplishments at Wickenburg High added to her original letter."

Pagliaro resigned as football coach and athletic director at Buckholts after having the positions for four days.

Shawn Byrne
Miner Staff Reporter

KINGMAN - The administration at Kingman High School has begun an investigation into the background of recently hired KHS assistant football coach Mike Pagliaro after receiving a tip from Justin Blackburn of Wickenburg.

Blackburn, a Wickenburg alum, sent an email to KHS principal Janelle Victory and athletic director John Venenga, which he carbon copied the Miner and attempted to do as well with Pagliaro. Blackburn stated he was concerned with Pagliaro being around kids. Pagliaro is also the KHS librarian.

"I want to put it very simply - Mike Pagliaro is bad news," Blackburn wrote. He said he did this "as an attempt to give him the hint that concerned citizens don't want him around our kids. I am going to haunt him everywhere he goes."

And Blackburn has done exactly that. Their history together began during the 2009 season at Wickenburg High when Pagliaro was the Wranglers' head coach. Wickenburg went 10-1 that season and won the 3A West Region championship.

It was a discovery in October that started the chain of events leading to Kingman.

According to the Wickenburg Sun, Pagliaro's brother, Tom, was convicted in 2007 of felony flight in Illinois after police found him late one night in a vehicle with a 16-year-old former student. Tom Pagliaro fled the scene, which led to his conviction, but was found not guilty on a charge of sexual misconduct with the girl.

Mike Pagliaro allowed his brother to be a volunteer assistant coach at Wickenburg without "a properly approved background check," the Sun report said. When this came to light, Tom Pagliaro was removed from the team. Later in the year, Mike Pagliaro and Wickenburg A.D. Scott Strack resigned their positions.

"His hiring at Wickenburg set our football program back immensely and harmed our kids in the community," Blackburn said.

Blackburn said he continues to be concerned that Mike Pagliaro is omitting vital information on his resumes and applications. When Pagliaro applied for the Wickenburg position, he did not include his stint as head coach at CIVA Charter in Colorado Springs, Colo., according to the WUSD application Blackburn included in his email.

Pagliaro's football team there had its last three games of the 2008 regular season cancelled, according to The Edwardsville Intelligencer.

After leaving Wickenburg, Pagliaro was hired as head coach and athletic director at Buckholts High in Texas. After another Blackburn tip, that lasted four days when Pagliaro quickly resigned. The Sun reported a letter of recommendation from Wickenburg principal Jackie Jacobson that Pagliaro offered to Buckholts had been altered.

Prior to his stint in Colorado, Pagliaro was the head coach at Paris High in Illinois in 2006. The Tribune-Star in Terre Haute, Ind., reported that Paris had been "under the occasionally volatile leadership of ex-coach Mike Pagliaro" in an August 2007 story. Pagliaro had "a much-publicized confrontation with the West Vigo coaching staff after a loss" in 2006.

Venenga said the matter is at the district office level and a resolution is expected by Tuesday.

"We're on it," Venenga said. "We're aware of the information, and we're doing a full investigation into the matter."

Pagliaro declined to comment, stating he wanted to wait until Kingman's investigation was completed. He said once that was finished, he would be more than happy to discuss it. He did say his coming to Kingman had nothing to do with football.

"I came out here to teach English and be the school librarian," Pagliaro said. "I didn't come looking to coach football."

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Related Stories:
• Kingman High assistant coach Pagliaro says he'll resign

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