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.