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Oxford Wrestling Coach/School Board Member Fired, Claims Political Reasons

Gerard Carbonaro, who was disciplined for the second time this school year by the school's athletic director, implies that a fellow board has it out for him.

An member has been fired from his role as an assistant wrestling coach at after an administrator disciplined him a second time for what officials say amounts to conduct unbecoming of a coach.

Gerard Carbonaro, a Republican who was elected to the school board in November, said he was dismissed from the wrestling program after telling a fan and former Pomperaug wrestler to shut up after a match last month (stories vary on whether Carbonaro used foul language during the incident; Carbonaro says he did not). Carbonaro said the teenager was heckling the team after his son, Joseph, lost a match.

Athletic Director Glenn Lungarini said Carbonaro was ejected from the Dec. 17 match at Pomperaug, and Lungarini said he fired Carbonaro from the stipend position after conducting an investigation when he received a letter from the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference explaining that Carbonaro was ejected for “unsportsmanlike conduct.”

Compounding the uncomfortable situation for Oxford officials, the person who ejected Carbonaro was CIAC wrestling official and fellow Oxford Board of Ed. member Ted Oczkowski, a Democrat. Carbonaro now claims he was reported to the CIAC for political reasons.

“Ted is an antagonistic political rival on the Oxford Board of Ed.,” Carbonaro stated in an email response to Oxford Patch questions (read the full text of his email below). “He submitted a report to the CIAC stating that I had been ejected from an event. This did not happen. No officials ever said a word to me about an ejection.”

Oczkowski did not return a message seeking comment for this article.

In his email to Oxford Patch, Carbonaro stated that wrestling Head Coach Ben Blue “had been feeling insecure and did not back me up in his recent case.”

“I am not sorry for what I said at this tournament, so I guess I am not qualified to coach in this politically correct environment,” Carbonaro, who has two sons on the wrestling team, stated in the email. “I coached with competence, passion, love and loyalty. I am a human being, not a robot.”

He said the entire wrestling team and their parents are upset about his dismissal. He said he’s coached many of the boys since they were in seventh grade and that he’s proud of the team that he’s helped build, which is 6-1 this season and finished second in the Pomperaug tournament.

“This was a non-event, blown out of proportion by Ted (Oczkowski) and Glen [sic] Lungarini,” the email states.

Lungarini said he talked to officials from the CIAC who said the report of the Pomperaug incident was valid.

“I don’t want to take away from what the kids are doing and the season the kids are having,” said Lungarini, who is also the assistant principal at the high school. “I think to comment much more about what happened would be harmful to the team, .”

Lungarini acknowledged there has been some question all along about whether Carbonaro could continue coaching once he became a school board member because he was being being paid by the district for coaching. Since he put in name in the race, Carbonaro has said Oxford Republicans and town officials looked into this matter and decided he could coach and serve on the board because his coaching job was only a stipend position.

Carbonaro was involved in a where he and another assistant coach were suspended from the team for a brief period after being involved in a verbal altercation in front of students in the football locker room.

Carbonaro did not comment at the time, saying school officials told him not to. However, he addressed the situation in the recent email to Oxford Patch, saying he was breaking up a bullying situation in which a senior football player was picking on younger players.

“…I took a beating on the Patch from many people who had no idea of the facts of that event and still don’t,” he said. “I believe I should have been commended for my role in that situation, not suspended.”

Carbonaro remains an Oxford Board of Education member.

The following is the full text of his email response to questions about the situation from Oxford Patch:

"AD Glen Lungarini dismissed me due to a minor incident that occurred in December at a touny at Pomperaug HS. My son, Joseph, lost a match in the finals. After the match, the last of the night, we were heckled by a graduated Pomp. wrestler, who was working at the scorers table. I told him to shut up. This was the last match of the tourny. A ref heard this and reported it to Teddy O. Ted is an antagonistic political rival on the Oxford Board of Ed. He submitted a report to CIAC, stating that I had been ejected from the event. This did not happen. No officials ever said a word to me at the time about an ejection. When AD Glen Lungarini learned of this, he terminated me as a coach. This was, in part, due to my one week suspension during football season when I broke up a flagrant bullying situation following the Bethel game. Per Lungarini's instructions, I was unable to comment about the football incident at the time, and I took a beating on the Patch from many people who had no idea of the facts of that event and still don't. I believe I should have been commended for my role in that situation, not suspended. Sadly, Coach Ben Blue had been feeling insecure and did not back me up in this recent case. I am not sorry for what I said at this tournament, so I guess I am not qualified to coach in this politically correct environment. I coached with competence, passion, love and loyalty. I am a human being, not a robot. The entire wrestling team and their parents are very upset about my dismissal. I have coached several of these kids since 7th grade and I am proud of the team I helped build. This was a non-event, blown out of proportion by Ted and Glen Lungarini." 

david b. January 09, 2012 at 03:53 AM
i hope my previous post does not show up as i am new to this. i have been observing oxford h.s. sports for some time. i was at this tournament and have witnessed this coach gerard on numerous occasions (we won't count the youth tournament in bristol where he should have been arrested. he stopped short of fighting an official on that day!). he blames others for his lack of self-control and discipline. he told a kid working the table to shut up, those were his own words. real classy. and, then he plays it out as a political agenda. i didn't know making a jerk out of yourself in public, on numerous occasions was a political strategy. oh yeah, it worked for clinton and mayor dinkins. way to go gerard. the result of your actions finally got you out of oxford h.s. thank goodness!
Abe January 09, 2012 at 05:31 AM
If Coach Carbonaro did what he has been accused of, he should admit his error, accept his dismissal and work to repair his reputation. If he feels he has been wronged, he should take it up with the CIAC first and his only comment should be that he is appealing their decision. When an issue like this is taken to the court of public opinion in an aggressive manner rather than through the proper channels, it makes many people doubt the claims. As far as the mud slinging splattering his son, that is unacceptable. Mr. Singley. Delete at will! I know Ted O. His agenda is simple. Do what is best for the kids and their education. Do away with anything that interferes with the kids and their education. I would vote for him to be on the BOE regardless of what party ticket he was running under.
Maiku Shimon January 10, 2012 at 02:56 AM
Coach Carbonaro is a good man, period. My son is on the wrestling team, and we truly appreciated his time and effort. I’m sure that he will do well with the board of education. Thanks Coach Carb!
Paul Singley January 10, 2012 at 03:03 AM
TK: No. I've heard that is not true. I'll keep ya posted if it becomes anything more than a rumor, though.
kathy johnson January 10, 2012 at 06:06 PM
I have only met coach Carbonaro once at a budget meeting when he lobbied the BOF to keep funds available to Oxfords Athletes. I found him to be well spoken and passionate for his athletes and I told him as such. I have known Ted for many years and have served with him politically. Ted is passionate and outspoken as are many in this town and many on this blog.I believe that human nature being what it is is always subject to mixed motives both good and bad in the same individual. I can not see why both of these good men can not leave their differences aside and serve peacefully and fairly on the BOE. after all they were both fairly elected. As a citizen I am looking to the the good example and leadership of BOE Chair Paula Guillet to set a tone that is void of political banter and personal attacks. Together with the proper and fair leadership of the BOE chair and the good citizens of Oxford we can lay this issue to rest and move on. Lets think of our children and the town first. There are many other political issues that should be addressed besides this incident. Ted spoke his mind, coach has been fired ,no has come out of this unscathed or feeling good.

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