MONROE, CT — They came armed with questions, but left disappointed.
When the Board of Education announced Monday that it would hold a special meeting Tuesday regarding the investigation into the Masuk High School football program, many thought and hoped it would provide answers to the many questions residents have been left with since the investigation was announced in July.
But that didn’t happen. All the board did was officially authorize the investigation that has been underway for months.
Head football coach Steve Christy and Associate Head Coach Eric Giordano were both put on administrative leave in July after complaints about what is described as the “culture” of the football program. District and school administrators have declined to comment on the investigation because it is a personnel matter.
Board Chairman David Ferris tried to temper expectations at the start of the meeting.
“We tried to get the word out – I don’t want to get the expectation that there is a major announcement tonight. There is no major announcement as far as any conclusion or any finality of this,” he said. “As soon as we get to that point, and we are close, but as soon as we get to that point we will release everything when and if we possibly can.”
The meeting was over almost before it began. It started at 7:01 p.m. and by 7:05 it was adjourned. There was no opportunity for public comment, and in those four minutes Ferris read a statement that included a motion to officially authorize the investigation.
“The Board of Education called this meeting in order to present some clarity with respect to the multiple respondents and questions that have been presented regarding the ongoing investigation related to the Masuk High School football program,” Ferris said. “The board also wishes to dispel some of the misinformation that is out in the public and provide transparency to this issue.
More specifically, there have been questions raised as to whether the board authorized this investigation and the reason for doing so. While we cannot provide specific details, we can state the following,” he said.
“In June of this year, complaints were brought to the attention of the board regarding certain issues that have to do with the Monroe football program. Because we cannot divulge the names of any students with respect to this matter, we will not provide the details of those complaints.
“On July 5, the board met in executive session to discuss this matter. It was a clear consensus of the board that the matter should be investigated. This consensus was reached based on the interests of the students, athletes, coaches and the overall program. Moreover, to avoid any appearance of bias and to obtain an investigation by a neutral person, it was also the consensus of the board that the superintendent should work with the board’s legal counsel in order to engage an outside attorney to investigate the matter. Based on the consensus of the board, the superintendent did consult with the board’s legal council and an outside attorney was engaged to do this investigation.
There have been questions raised as to who authorized this investigation. Therefore, to remove any question on the matter and to provide full transparency to the public, I will entertain the following motion: 1. that the Board of Education confirms and asserts that it has authorized an investigation into complaints presented to the board and school administration regarding the Masuk football program, and 2. The board has authorized the superintendent and assistant superintendent of schools to coordinate with the board’s legal council to engage an independent attorney to conduct this investigation.”
The motion passed unanimously, with board member Jeff Fulchino abstaining. Board Vice Chairman Shannon Reilly and Secretary Christina Cascella were absent.
“We will get more information out as soon as we can,” Ferris said before adjourning the meeting.
Many in the audience were dismayed by the lack of information and the inability of the public to speak.
“How can you vote on something now when you should have voted on it or said something back in June or July?” one woman asked as the board was leaving.
Another woman, who didn’t want to be identified because she has a son entering the high school next year who is interested in playing on the football team and was afraid of the possible repercussions from being identified, said the board has handled the situation poorly by keeping so much information from the parents and students.
“It’s not fair that at this point we still don’t know what is going on,” she said. “I’m not even sure I want my son involved with the team because of what’s supposedly going on with it. They need to step it up and be more candid with us.”
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