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Grievance hearing pushed back

August 28, 2018

STAMFORD — The grievance process for Stamford High School’s former athletic director who claims he was wrongfully not re-hired has been delayed after the city failed to produce the documents needed for an investigation.

After a four-plus hour meeting on Tuesday, it was concluded the Board of Education could not make a decision about whether or not Jim Moriarty was wrongfully passed over to be Stamford High’s athletic director without the items the teacher’s union asked for in a Freedom of Information Act request.

Moriarty previously served as the athletic director of Stamford High School for six years. In March, it was announced the position would be switched from a department head-esque position held by a teacher to a full-time administrative job. Moriarty applied for the job, but was passed over for Chris Passamano, the former boys varsity swim coach at Norwalk High School who didn’t have prior athletic director experience.

Teachers union lawyer Sharon Quinn is claiming Moriarty, 66, is the victim of age discrimination and a biased, unfair interview process. However, the Stamford teacher’s union said requested 17 items from the city to help inform the grievance process and did not receive some of them, including emails. The city allegedly did not respond to followup about the requests, which were made Aug. 1.

There was also another planned grievance meeting that was previously delayed because of a lack of information.

Still, the union presented the board with what information they did have, claiming Moriarty was treated unfairly during the interview process.

According to Quinn, members of the interview committee were not made aware of the board policy to show a preference toward internal candidates. Moriarty was also allegedly subjected to targeted questions based specifically off incidents from his past experience as athletic director, including an investigation into a social media post where a coach appeared to be drinking with student athletes.

Moriarty said these questions threw him for a loop and made him worry about the integrity of these past investigations, causing him to perform poorly during the interview.

The union also complained that Stamford High’s principal, Ray Manka, sat in on the second interview representing Stamford High, the administrator’s union and as a neutral facilitator. The union argued he could not represent the interests of all three groups.

“I felt Mr. Manka should not have started the conversation at that point as the facilitator,” said Stamford High teacher and interview committee member Dorothea Mackey. “He was too involved and he set the tone too much. He is the principal. He had three teachers in room who worked for him and as a facilitator, it’s very hard to be neutral at that point.”

erin.kayata@stamfordadvocate.com; (203) 964-2265; @erin_kayata

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