To the Editor:

As the father of a Trumbull High School athlete and serving on the selection committee for the girl’s ice hockey coach, I have come to know and respect Trumbull High School Athletic Director Mike Herbst. After 37 and a half years of distinguished service to the Trumbull Public School System, he retired on Jan. 31. Mike has been an outstanding athletic director and has earned the respect of his peers, who have previously elected him president of the Fairfield Interscholastic Athletic Conference (FCIAC) and inducted him into the FCIAC Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, the search process for a replacement did not produce suitable candidate and the process was reopened to ensure that Trumbull student athletes get the best possible Athletic Director. Because of the delay in finding a replacement, School Superintendent Gary Cialfi asked Mike Herbst to stay on for an interim basis until an appropriate successor was identified and chosen.

As the old saying goes, no good deed goes unpunished. Almost instantly, the Trumbull Democratic Town Committee produces a video, questioning the integrity of Mr. Herbst. The Trumbull Democrats make claims of conflict of interest and will make you believe that Mr. Herbst does not deserve his pension that he earned during his 37 and a half years’ service. I would imagine that the Trumbull Democrats are as outraged from other fine educators that have retired but returned to serve the students and community at the request of the Superintendent of Schools and Board of Education. Two other recent examples of educators returning after retirement to serve our community include Charlotte Janis being hired back as the principal of Tashua School on an interim basis after she retired. Last June, Bob Tremaglio retired as the Principal of Trumbull High School and was hired back on permanent basis to serve as the administrator of the Vo-Ag School, where he is collecting both his pension from the state and a second salary.

I don’t fault these educators and I do not have a problem with these arrangements, however, it is important to note that both of these happened when the Democrats had a 5-2 majority on the Board of Education.

Superintendent of Schools Gary Cialfi received a legal opinion from two well respected attorneys that no conflict of interest existed. One of those attorneys is a leading educational lawyer in the State of Connecticut.

While the Trumbull Democrats will claim conflict of interest because Mrs. Herbst is the Board of Education chairwoman, it is important to note that not only did Mrs. Herbst recuse herself from the vote but left the building. Mr. Herbst could have walked away and retired and left the administration and students without an athletic director, however that is not the right thing to do. Mr. Herbst has too much integrity and cares too much for the students to let that happen.

I wish Coach Herbst well in his well-deserved retirement and as a Trumbull parent and taxpayer, I am disappointed that a few petty people would attempt to tarnish his distinguished 37 and a half year career.

Paul Lavoie