WESTON, Conn. – Supporters of former Weston High boys basketball coach Mike Hvizdo called for his reinstatement and lambasted school superintendent Colleen Palmer during an hourlong session of public comment at Monday’s Board of Education meeting at Weston Middle School.
Hvizdo told the team he resigned for “personal reasons” during a meeting Feb. 7. He was part of a nine-minute movie released more than a decade ago that Palmer and the Weston administration believed compromised his ability as a basketball coach. The movie was an adult "comedy that while racy in nature, did not include any nudity."
Hvizdo has since reconsidered his “verbal resignation,” Palmer said Monday. He did not attend the meeting.
Parents, players and members of the community were unanimous in their support of Hvizdo, who has been the coach for two years. Many cited his relationship with the team. Most also believe he was treated unfairly by Palmer, Weston High principal Lisa Wolak, human resources director Lewis Brey and athletic director Mark Berkowitz.
“The decision to ruin his life and traumatize the players was made within 12 hours based on a 12-year-old film,’’ Weston resident Kay Spencer said in support of Hvizdo. “It was based on the personal reaction of the administration to a college film project. There was no input from any one, no investigation, no query -- just a disgruntled parent who sent in the email to incite the administration into panic mode. The lack of due process turned the administration into the duped tools of destruction at the behest of a known troublemaker.”
Matt Gurman, one of the many players who attended the meeting, said the team still respects Hvizdo. “He is a much better role model than any one at the sitting at the table right now,'' Gurman said.
Team captain Charlie DiPasquale, who also addressed the board, said afterward the team has tried to fight through the distraction. Under interim coach Jamaal Gibbs, Weston lost in the first-round of the South-West Conference tournament Saturday. It begins sate tournament play next week.
“I thought it was good that we all came and showed that we value him as a coach, and that we want him to help Weston basketball become successful,'' DiPasquale said.
Some residents felt a protracted battle could open the town to lawsuits for wrongful dismissal. Some worried about the reputation of the community and said Hvidzo was being treated unfairly for something that happened long ago.
Palmer said that Hvizdo, as a "probationary employee," has no recourse in an appeal process. She also said she and the board would evaluate the community input.
She did not say, however, whether Hvizdo’s status would be re-evaluated or when a decision might be forthcoming. “We want to make sure we have the students’ best interests at heart,’’ she said.
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