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."