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Wrestling Coach Files Harrassment Suit Against Oxford Schools, Board Member

Attorney's letter claims requests to discuss the issue before the suit was filed were denied.

Oxford High School wrestling coach Benjamin Blue officially filed a civil suit against the Board of Education (BOE), superintendent of schools, high school athletic director and a BOE member and former assistant coach for what Blue claims is a pattern of harassment.

Blue threatened to file the suit back in February if the BOE did not take steps to rectify the situation, including requests for a meeting with school administrators. That request was denied, according to Blue’s attorney, Steven Colarossi, prompting the suit.

The lawsuit [download a copy and exhibits above] includes 12 claims, several requesting damages from various defendants totaling a minimum of $25,000.

Attorney Colarossi’s letter follows:

For weeks, Oxford High School Wrestling Coach Ben Blue has requested a meeting to discuss his claims against the Oxford Board of Education. Yet, each request was denied by Superintendent Timothy Connellan, which left Coach Blue with two options: either do nothing and allow a 2-year pattern of harassment to continue or assert his rights and commence a civil lawsuit against the Oxford Board of Education. Coach Blue, who is represented by attorney Steven A. Colarossi (a former member of Norwalk's Board of Education), chose the letter.

The lawsuit, which has been filed in the Milford Superior Court, raises 12 claims against the Oxford Board of Education, Superintendent Timothy Connellan, Athletic Director Thomas "Teg" Cosgriff and Gerard Carbonaro (who Blue claims forfeited his seat on Oxford's Board of Education by his accepting employment with the District).

The first claim being asserted by Coach Blue concerns his contention that Carbonaro forfeited his seat on the Oxford Board of Education soon after he was sworn in because he accepted employment with the school district (by signing a contract to serve as assistant wrestling coach for pay after his swearing-in). Carbonaro is also facing a host of defamation claims arising from a series of emails which Carbonaro has sent to various school officials.

Superintendent Connellan and Athletic Director Cosgriff are facing individual claims due to the assertion by Coach Blue that both administrators attempted to limit his political free speech by punishing him for being outspoken regarding the legal challenges to Carbonaro.

In addition, Coach Blue has asserted claims against the Board of Education regarding invasion of his privacy rights (citing comments posted by Carbonaro on the Oxford Patch which suggested a level of knowledge about Coach Blue's personnel matters that should have been confidential), failing to safeguard his due process protections and breach of contract.

Coach Blue, who is an Oxford resident and taxpayer, is saddened that Superintendent Connellan appeared to escalate the harassment (he claims) has been inflicted upon him by Carbonaro. "I thought an honest discussion among my attorney, the Board of Education's attorney, Superintendent Connellan and me could have resolved my claims against the Board of Education."  

Coach Blue's attorney expressed similar concern: "As a former Board of Education member, I am at a loss as to why officers of the Oxford Board of Education would shun discussions, challenge an aggrieved employee to file a lawsuit and then incur legal fees defending a legitimate suit by a long-standing employee."

Answers by the four defendants will be due in Court by May 22, 2014.
GBP April 08, 2014 at 10:17 AM
Could the school board please stepup and tell Mr. Carbonaro to resign his position. Mr. Carbonro seems to be noting but a bully he had a run in when he was with the footbal team and now the wrestling team. He brings nothing to the table except trouble.
Bonnie April 08, 2014 at 12:00 PM
How much should I expect my taxes to go up? I need to plan so I can pay my tax bill.
T-Bone April 08, 2014 at 05:10 PM
Exactly Bonnie, another reason Oxford doesn't need people like this on the Board of Education: It costs us money!
Citizen X April 08, 2014 at 05:53 PM
Can't we make Oxford Carb free?
boig kuhuna April 08, 2014 at 08:18 PM
Gentlemen and Board of Education; Please sit down and talk this out and shake hands. Then get back to running the Oxford school system and use this as a civic lesson.

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