TC officials to investigate Greenwich school administrator’s discussion of hiring practices after video goes viral

GREENWICH — The state attorney general and state education officials are investigating after video emerged Tuesday night showing a man identified by Project Veritas as Cos Cob School Vice Principal Jeremy Boland, appearing to speak about discriminatory hiring practices in Greenwich public schools.

“I invoke my civil rights enforcement authority to investigate any potentially unlawful discrimination or other actionable misconduct related to this video,” Attorney General William Tong said Thursday. Tong declined to say whether he would require the raw footage from Project Veritas.

Separately, the Department of Education is investigating whether Boland violated any state laws or regulations. If he did, his certification could be suspended or revoked, department spokesman Eric Scoville said.

Attempts to reach Boland were unsuccessful and by Wednesday afternoon his phone number had been disconnected.

Politicians on both sides of the aisle, including Governor Ned Lamont, have denounced the video and the possibility of discriminatory hiring practices at Greenwich schools. The viral video released by media organization Project Veritas shows Boland speaking about practices that appear to discriminate against Catholics, conservatives and people over 30.

Greenwich Public Schools has launched its own investigation and placed Boland on administrative leave, Superintendent Toni Jones announced Wednesday afternoon.

First coach Fred Camillo also ordered the city attorney to investigate.

Camillo, who posted on Facebook that the video “hits home” as a former student of Cos Cob and a Roman Catholic, said he was speaking with the superintendent of Greenwich Public Schools, the principal of city ​​human resources and the city attorney about the matter. . He said he was “calling for a comprehensive review of hiring practices”.

“The Board of Education represents the largest cost center of our city’s operating budget and Greenwich ratepayers expect those who work on behalf of the City of Greenwich and the Greenwich Board of Education to do so with the highest standards of ethics, transparency and integrity,” said Camille.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Leora Levy hosted a press conference of GOP officials and candidates — including one from outside the Greenwich constituency — on Wednesday to talk about the video.

From PE teacher to assistant director

James O’Keefe, CEO and President of Project Veritas, appears in the video, suggesting that the practices described by Boland would violate state discrimination laws.

Project Veritas describes itself as a “nonprofit journalism enterprise” created to continue O’Keefe’s “undercover reporting work”. He has been criticized for allegedly using edited secret recordings to unfairly discredit Democratic and progressive groups and the mainstream media.

The video was posted Tuesday night on Project Veritas social media, and several follow-up videos were posted Wednesday and Thursday.

In the initial video, Boland is shown having dinner while talking with someone several times in July. He doesn’t seem to be aware that he is recorded.

Asked at Levy’s press conference, O’Keefe said he would not disclose the circumstances of Boland’s encounter with the woman whom O’Keefe described as an “undercover reporter.”

Boland joined Greenwich Public Schools in 2006 as a physical education teacher and from 2018 ran the physical education, wellbeing and family and consumer science programs. The Program Coordinator position for these departments is no longer active.

He became vice principal of Cos Cob School in the fall of 2020 under then-principal Gene Schmidt, who retired at the end of last school year. Kerry Gavin is the acting principal of Cos Cob School.

The Senior Assistant job description includes the following: “Assists in the recruitment and selection of employees, the proper maintenance of employee personnel records, the administration of collective agreements, corrective action and ‘other human resource issues’.

The district has confirmed that Boland has the administrative certification required to become an assistant director.

In 2021, Boland’s salary was about $154,000, according to gross salary figures provided by the city’s human resources department.

District Hiring Practices

The Greenwich School Board appoints the district superintendent and allows administrators to make hiring decisions. Council members, who set general district policies, do not oversee the hiring of new teachers.

Council chairwoman Kathleen Stowe said in a statement that council policies oppose the views expressed in the viral video.

“This is clearly troubling and is being investigated. However, to be clear, the Board and our policies and practices do not support any opinion that promotes discriminatory hiring practices based on race, gender, religion, gender or age in any way,” she said in a statement.

Other board members said they felt personally targeted.

“He attacked me as a Catholic, as a Republican, and I’m 59,” board member Joe Kelly said. “It’s beyond words how angry I am.”

“I say this as a parent because I am outraged and worried. I am a conservative. I am catholic. I’m over 30,” Karen Kowalski said, referring to features Boland is seen discussing in the videos.

Another school board member, Michael-Joseph Mercanti-Anthony, criticized both Boland’s apparent statements and the tactics used by Project Veritas.

“As a Catholic, conservative and educator, I was appalled by the sentiments expressed in the video, which are not the values ​​of our community. Yet it is also not in line with our values ​​to covertly film people and post their comments on the internet,” he said. “Discrimination is not Christian, but these entrapment tactics are too.”

The morning after the video went viral, kindergarten students and families went to Cos Cob School for orientation. A policeman was parked outside the entrance – something Greenwich Police said was planned before national attention descended on the neighborhood.

Police Captain Mark Zuccerella said the department previously organized a police presence at each school during the first days of classes.

“On the eve of the first day of school, what should not be forgotten in all of this is that there are very good teachers in the GPS system who have done a wonderful job for our children, and it shouldn’t be a stain on them,” Kowalski said.

Includes earlier reports from The Associated Press. Writer Dan Haar contributed to this report.

Martha K. Merrill