Greenwich Racks Up $346K Bill for Investigation of School Hiring: No Evidence of Systemic Discrimination Found

The Town of Greenwich released a 56-page report Tuesday based on the independent investigation into hiring practices at Greenwich Public Schools.

The investigation was authorized by First Selectman Fred Camillo, and was one of several in response to an incident that came to light last August when Project Veritas published secret recordings of then Assistant Principal of Cos Cob School, Jeremy Boland.

Jeremy Boland.

In the edited videos, Mr. Boland claimed to screen teacher candidates by their age and religion, preferring to hire candidates younger than 30 years of age, and preferring not to hire Catholics.

The videos, which went viral, were released in late August, just as campaign season was heating up. At a press conference outside Cos Cob School organized by then candidate for US Senate Leora Levy, several local candidates joined Mr. O’Keefe at the podium.

James O’Keefe spoke at a press conference outside Cos Cob School. Aug 31, 2022 Photo: Leslie Yager

Just like the report released in July from Greenwich Schools, the Town’s taxpayer funded report concluded there was no evidence of systematic discrimination on the basis of age, religion or political affiliation by Greenwich Schools.

Mr. Boland resigned this spring from his position.

According to the town legal department the cost of the investigation and report was $346,648.

At the time the secret recordings were posted online, Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe still ran the company he had founded in 2010. He was removed by his board earlier this year.

O’Keefe’s troubles continue. The Westchester County District Attorney’s Office announced an investigation in the latest fallout after his removal from Project Veritas over allegations of mistreating workers and misspending organization funds.

According to The Nation, “Westchester DA Miriam Rocah’s probe follows a raft of civil lawsuits, criminal investigations, and six-figure court losses that have trailed the group under O’Keefe’s leadership—including a still-active federal investigation into the theft of property belonging to President Biden’s daughter Ashley Biden.”

The organization also made news this week when a Tweet from the company’s official account was published and then deleted claiming much of the staff had been laid off on Aug 17.

For its investigation of Mr. Boland, the Town of Greenwich hired attorneys from Day Pitney LLP, as well as consultants.

Day Pitney reviewed district hiring practices and interviewed 40+ teachers and administrators.

The consultants, Charles River Associates, analyzed a database for 11,231 applicants covering 732 hiring events between 2017 and 2022.

The report said interviewee profiles shed some amount of light on the profiles of GPS employees in general. Tables show the breakdown of their interviewees’ age at time of initial hire, religion, and political affiliation.

“We found it noteworthy that roughly 45% of our interviewees were over the age of 30 the first time they were hired into the GPS system, that the majority of our interviewees self-identified as Roman Catholic, and that the distribution of political affiliation was not concentrated into either a conservative or liberal category,” the authors of the report wrote.

According to the report, teachers and staff were asked whether they considered or asked any questions about age, religion, or political affiliation during the interviews, or whether there was any discussion of these factors during interviews.

“Each of our interviewees reported that these factors were not considered or discussed,” the report said.

The report said many interviewees expressed disbelief of Mr. Boland’s statements.

For instance, some of the responses they received were:

• “I’ve never heard anybody in Greenwich saying those types of things.”
• “I wasn’t like, oh yeah, he’s saying what we all think. I was just like, where is this coming from? I’ve never experienced anything like that.”
• “There’s no way that he was doing that. There’s no way.”
• “That’s not how Greenwich operates.”

Further, the report said several interviewees expressed empathy for Mr. Boland.

“Multiple individuals expressed the view that he had been ‘set up’ or ‘duped’ and that the video featuring his comments had been filmed without his knowledge and later edited. Some concluded that he made his comments in an effort to impress someone, and thought he might not actually have believed his comments himself.”

In his statement on Tuesday, First Selectman Fred Camillo said he was relieved that the findings did not uncover widespread bias.

“The people of Greenwich deserve to know that their school system, like all other parts of Town government, is fair, impartial and effective in its missions. Let us move forward with this lesson in mind so that we may never have to request another investigation like this again in the future.”

Reached for comment after the release of the town’s report Tuesday afternoon, Greenwich Schools Superintendent Dr. Toni Jones noted that for the past year the district fully cooperated with multiple investigations regarding their hiring practices following what she described as “serious accusations.”

Jones had ordered her own investigation, which was conducted by Jonathan Budd, Ph.D., the district’s Chief Human Resources Officer. Dr. Budd’s report determined that policies not likely not violated, including the GPS policy against discrimination, but rather it was Mr. Boland’s admitted “grandstanding” and “embellishment” to impress an individual that caused the lasting damage.

Dr. Budd said in his report that the incident’s damage to Greenwich Public Schools, its employees, the Town of Greenwich and all its residents came in the form of lasting “disruption” and “disrepute.

Dr. Jones noted the district had submitted thousands of documents and coordinated individual interviews requested by the investigation with both current and former employees.

In addition, she said, “We quickly ensued  an internal investigation by the GPS human resources department, while several other agencies did the same.”

Jones said she was grateful the investigators had worked with school staff on interview times to minimize educational disruption.

“As a district, we continue to be very proud of the hard work our administrators, teachers, and entire staff have accomplished through the years to educate all students to the highest levels of academic achievement,” Jones said. “We are looking forward to another outstanding school year for staff, students, and families.”

Meanwhile there are outstanding investigations by CT Attorney General William Tong, who invoked his civil rights authority to investigate the matter, the Connecticut State Dept of Education, and CHRO, which is short for the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities.

See also:

Greenwich Schools Boland Report: Lasting Disrepute, but No Evidence of Discrimination July 5, 2023

Cos Cob School Assistant Principal Resigns; Interview Committee Being Formed March 26, 2023

Dueling Rallies Outside Board of Ed Meeting Reflect Opposing Views Sept 22, 2022

67 Republicans Demand School Administrators Be Put on Leave; Rally Planned Before BOE Meeting Sept 19, 2022

PHOTOS: After Hidden Camera Video Goes Viral, Republicans Demand Accountability Sept 1, 2022

CT Attorney General to Investigate Alleged Discrimination in Cos Cob School Sept 1, 2022

Cos Cob School Assistant Principal Placed on Administrative Leave Aug 31, 2022

Project Veritas Targets Greenwich Schools with “Gotcha” Video Aug 31, 2022