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Protest for Carolyn Lippolis Organized For Dec. 17

Past students have banded together to protest the recent firing of the Branford High School teacher who allegedly brandished a knife in her freshman social studies class last January.

It came as a surprise to many supporters of former Branford High School teacher Carolyn Lippolis that she would be fired this past Tuesday and they would not be able to speak on her behalf.

The New Haven Register reported that the Branford Board of Education heard arbitration from a three-personal panel who advised that Lippolis be fired in a speical meeting on Tuesday night. The BOE voted unanimously to let her go, following the January 2012 incident where Lippolis allegedly displayed a knife in her classroom. The Register reported that three students filed complaints against Lippolis and those complaints were used in the case, which led to her firing. While the Register report indicates that Lippolis’ husband Cory spoke on his wife’s behalf, other supporters were unable to have their concerns heard before the BOE voted to let Lippolis go.

A 2008 graduate of BHS, Branford resident Victoria Verderame has joined forces with Ryan Cosgrove (2012), and Shane Emery (2009) to fight for Lippolis’ job back. They are planning a peaceful protest for Lippolis in front of BHS on Monday, Dec. 17 at noon. You can find their Facebook event, which has more than 60 "yes" RSVPs as of this afternoon, online.

“There are a number of reasons why I'm doing this,” Verderame said. “First and foremost, Mrs. Lippolis (Ms. A as I know her) was my favorite teacher at BHS. She is one of the happiest and most caring individuals I know and has always been there for every student whoever needed her, even if that meant taking time out of her own schedule.”

Verderame, a recent graduate from Alebertus Magnus who now works at a law firm in New Haven, took to the computer soon as she heard Lippolis was fired. She drafted a blog "We're Fighting the Good Fight" about her favorite teacher stating: “The media portrays Carolyn Lippolis as a knife wielding maniac. This could not be further from the truth.”

Verderame, who emphasized the protest must be peaceful and can not include entering the school, said he is outraged by the way Lippolis’ case was handled by the BOE. “Is not only unsettling but a travesty of justice. She did not deserve what happened to her and there are many others who feel the same way I do and the BHS administration and BOE need to recognize that,” she said.

Coming armed with posters and speeches made on Lippolis' behalf, Verderame said, "My ultimate hope to come from this, is that Mrs. Lippolis is reinstated as a teacher at Branford High School, and if that can't happen then at least she will know that "her family" fought for her until the end."

Lippolis has been a teacher with Branford since 2000, starting as a substitute. She had a brief stint working in North Branford schools and eventually came back to Branford where she has been teaching social studies. Lippolis, whose last name was formerly Acampora, said in her biography on the Branford High School website, “I always dreamed of becoming a teacher and a lawyer…” Prior to teaching, Lippolis said she worked at a law firm in East Haven.

According to Verderame, who has developed as relationship with her teacher post-graduate, Lippolis has declined to comment to the media at this time regarding the incident involving the knife.

Verderame explained in her blog: “The knife was used a few days prior for a class party to cut a cake, she actually borrowed it from Mr. Bannon and his cooking class. The knife was shown only for demonstration purposes. It was briefly taken out, shown, and then put away.”

Patch reached out to Superintendent Hamlet Hernandez for comment but is still awaiting a reply. 

Steve from SAAC November 30, 2012 at 11:59 AM
I admire the show of support that former students are showing--and nice work by Patch giving the issue publicity that it deserves. I don't know much about the issue except what I've read, but I will say that it is sad that the politically-correct climate we live in allows things like this to happen. And to a person who sounds wonderful by all accounts, and with Branford roots. To relate to another high-school issue in the news lately, it's too bad that teachers and administrators who allow crude & vulgar forms of "dancing" to take place at school dances (such that many kids are actually afraid to attend them) aren't held to similar standards...
Melissa Datre November 30, 2012 at 12:36 PM
I must be missing something, the punishment doesn't seem to justify the behavior. There must be more to this story; if someone has a link to a news story or past articles about the incident it would be helpful. I recall hearing about a BHS teacher brandishing a knife in school, (which made it sound much more sinister than the description above) and then not much information after that. Thank you Victoria, Ryan and Shane - and the Patch- for bringing this to our attention. I trust Superintendent Hernandez and the Branford High School staff will be sending home information regarding this termination. (If they have already, my apologies.) Since the incident happened in a class during school hours, a statement from the administration regarding their concern and justification for the firing of a faculty member to the Branford community seems only appropriate. It would be the right thing to do.
Nicole Ball November 30, 2012 at 12:44 PM
Hi Melissa, Here's a timeline of coverage as events happened: Hamlet released a statement in January when the knife incident occurred and Mrs. LIppolis was places on administrative leave; at that time her name was not released. The Register article that covered her firing, a meeting I am told took about five minutes, is linked in the story above. Branford Teacher Allegedly Displayed Knife to Students http://patch.com/A-qk25 Branford Police Investigate Incident Where Teacher Allegedly Displayed Knife in Classroom http://patch.com/A-qmdX Warrant for Arrest of Teacher Who Allegedly Displayed Knife Denied http://patch.com/A-s4Hp Branford Teacher Involved in Knife Incident Fired http://patch.com/A-zR6m
Melissa Datre November 30, 2012 at 12:57 PM
Thank you Nicole this is very helpful. The whole situation seems unfortunate and if what Victoria described is true and the knife was used as a demonstration and not in a threatening manner, I wish the administration would come forward and state that is the reason she was terminated and not that she used "inappropriate and possibly dangerous conduct". That should be a shot across the bow for any teacher wanting to demonstrate controversial or provocative concepts in an effort to teach and expand the minds and understandings of our high school students. Good job Bored of Ed!
Joanne November 30, 2012 at 03:41 PM
Don't have a problem believing this: "To relate to another high-school issue in the news lately, it's too bad that teachers and administrators who allow crude & vulgar forms of "dancing" to take place at school dances (such that many kids are actually afraid to attend them) aren't held to similar standards". If the way these kids dress for school in Walsh, it isn't a surprise as to what is going on at BHS.
Steve from SAAC November 30, 2012 at 04:48 PM
In response to Joanne's comment, I was not trying to single anyone out--just suggesting some perspective in how we evaluate what may or may not be harmful to kids. This is a real person's life that is being affected in a very real way here, and the evidence presented so far that we've been able to read suggests that there was no harmful or malicious intent whatsoever by the person who's paying the price--and moreover that the person was a revered teacher who positively affected kids lives. The "dancing" issue that is currently in the news, by the way, appears to be related to a high school in East Lyme, CT, ref: http://www.theday.com/article/20121128/NWS01/311289934/-1/nws
Joseph December 01, 2012 at 03:36 AM
Sounds like nepotism by the superintendent
Hansa Junchun December 04, 2012 at 04:56 PM
This is typical "zero-tolerance" knee-jerk lunacy effected by zero-brained Administrators who spend most of their workday surfing for porn or vacation spots. But that's the sort of spineless society we have become: yellow-bellied nitwits terrorised to the marrow by political correctness and the public domaign. Overpaid, overstuffed Hamlet Hernandez needs to be the one who's fired.
concerned citizen January 08, 2013 at 07:37 PM
What is this world coming to that you have a teacher who is highly regarded as both a teacher and a person in the community get fired for an incident that seems to be taken out of context "displaying a knife". Those science teachers better watch out with bunson burners and chemicals, and those gym teachers with dodge ball and archery. Sounds completely ridiculous and something that people who don't agree with, should definitely speak out about!

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