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Staff At Hartford School Can't Block Layoff Of Popular Employee


February 13, 2009

A popular custodian supervisor at Hartford Public High School has been laid off despite efforts from more than 200 teachers and staff members to keep him at the school.

The Hartford Public High School staff presented a petition to Superintendent Steven J. Adamowski, building and grounds Director Claudio Bazzano and Mayor Eddie A. Perez last week, asking them to explore options to avoid laying off Gaetano Pappalardo.

A custodian supervisor at the Learning Corridor near Trinity College also was given a pink slip. The district said it couldn't avoid who was laid off, due to union seniority rules.

The position cuts came as a result of an effort to reduce the central office staff, schools spokesman Nancy Benben said.

The district is trying to redistribute its total budget so that 70 percent goes toward schools, which means the central office night custodian supervisor and custodian manager positions were cut. The school custodian supervisor positions were not eliminated, but the positions will be filled by more senior members of the union.

Union President Kevin Malizia did not return calls for comment.

The issue further upset staff at the high school because Pappalardo lost seniority by moving from the custodians' union to the supervisors' union when he was tapped to help Hartford Public High School through a tough transition. Pappalardo, who has worked for the district since 1999, declined to comment.

When Pappalardo moved to Hartford Public High School from Barnard Brown school in 2006, the high school was trying to keep its accreditation while it was in chaos. Some wings were closed for construction while the students were squeezed into the rest of the building. Furniture and books littered the hallways. And the school had removed its previous supervisor for allegedly selling school building materials at a salvage yard.

"Mr. Pappalardo's leadership and dedication during this time were critical to the school's success," the high school staff wrote in its letter last week. "Mr. Pappalardo is a member of our community, not a mere union statistic."

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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