A small group of protesters came out to show support of fired Branford High School (BHS) teacher Carolyn Lippolis, holding signs on the East Main Street sidewalk outside the BHS front lawn for about 2 hours this afternoon.
Mostly former students joined the protest by waving signs including "We Support Ms. Lippolis" and "Board of Ed-BHS Unfair" and "Honk for Your Support" at passing cars on East Main Street in the early afternoon and during busy school dismisssal.
On Nov. 27, the Board of Education voted unanimously to follow the recommendation of an arbitraion panel, in which two of three panelist recommended the district terminate Lippolis.
Now, according to protest organizer Ryan Cosgrove, "...she is fighting for her teaching license." Cosgrove, who graduated from BHS a year ago, had Lippolis as a study hall teacher and said many at the protest had her as a classroom teacher.
"I'm doing this because I hate to see bad things happen to good people," said Cosgrove.
Cosgrove organized the protest via Facebook. Originally scheduled for Dec. 17, it was rescheduled to today in deference to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings of Dec. 14.
A BHS teacher since 2001, Lippolis was terminated at the arbitration panel's recommendation based not on the single action of reportedly brandishing a knife in a classroom with students present in Jan. 2012, but as a result of a combination of factors, including "...a series of issues identifed by the school administration," BOE Chairperson Frank Carrano told The Sound on Nov. 28.
The arbitration hearings took place over the course of several weeks, following state statute proceedure, said Carrano. He noted Lippolis chose to have her case, and testimony from others, heard by imparitial panel.
At this afternoon's protest, about 40 also signed a petition to show their support of Lippolis.
"We want to send a message to the Board of Ed and we want to show our support for Ms. Lippolis," said Cosgrove.