Darien Schools Superintendent Defends District’s Actions in Wake of Students’ Assault of New Canaan Juvenile

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The superintendent of Darien Public Schools said Thursday that a New Canaan student notified his office about the assault of a male juvenile at the hands of at least two Darien High School students on Nov. 7—the day after the attack and the same day that the incident was reported to police.

According to a press release from Dr. Dan Brenner, Darien administrators turned over the New Canaan student’s email to Darien Police and told the New Canaan Public Schools about it.

Though it wasn’t immediately clear whether that email included the names of at least three Darien students present during the assault—including a starting quarterback and receiver on the Blue Wave varsity football team—the superintendent indicated that the district as a policy is hands-off while criminal investigations are underway.

“When the Darien Schools are made aware of a police investigation involving one of its students, it is the practice of the district to allow the investigation to go on without district involvement unless it is specifically requested by the investigating agency, in this case the New Canaan Police Department,” the superintendent’s statement said.

Brenner’s comments come amid questions about just when the Darien administration learned of the assault.

His statement continued: “This is a longstanding practice that has been in place so that police investigations go unimpeded. It goes without saying that the Darien Schools have always worked collaboratively with policing agencies when and if its involvement is requested. We stand behind this procedure as it involves the current situation.”

L-R: Brian Minicus and Jack Joyce. Photos courtesy of the New Canaan Police Department

The current situation resulted in the arrests of 18-year-olds Jack Joyce and Brian Minicus, seniors on the Blue Wave football team, as well as an unnamed 17-year-old.

According to New Canaan Police and arrest warrant applications, the Darien teens crashed a gathering of youths at a New Canaan home late on Nov. 6, after Joyce and others became involved in an escalating war of words and images by text and Snapchat. Once at the house, while the 17-year-old held down a male juvenile there, Minicus punched that victim in the face about 12 times, according to eyewitness accounts cited in court documents.  Joyce himself caused a disturbance in the home, according to multiple eyewitnesses, though the teen tried to tell police a different story, according to a police affidavit detailing his interview.

The three Darien teens’ arrests on Nov. 22—the day after New Canaan Police investigators concluded their work and applied for warrants, which were signed by a prosecutor and judge—resulted in Joyce and Minicus not playing in the Nov. 23 Turkey Bowl. A then-unbeaten Darien team fell to New Canaan 27-0.

According to Brenner, while the New Canaan Police investigation was underway, the Darien schools administration stayed in “constant contact” with New Canaan’s.

“Both districts acknowledged that they had nothing other than unconfirmed rumors of who was involved in the alleged incident,” Brenner said.

The superintendent said it should not be inferred that Darien’s schools “did not act promptly on information that was provided.”

“In fact, the schools acted immediately when they were finally formally notified of the arrests,” Brenner said.

That action resulted in at least two of the three arrested teens not playing in the Turkey Bowl. It isn’t clear what Darien High School’s policy is vis-à-vis student-athletes who are arrested—the web page for its handbook is empty, and Joyce was back in uniform on Tuesday, playing in a state tournament quarternfinal.

(New Canaan’s policy, by contrast—spelled out here—requires that “When the school has substantiated knowledge that a student athlete has been charged with a criminal offense, he/she will immediately be suspended from participation.”)

“The high school administration and athletic director will consider duration of the suspension and reinstatement of the student to a program based upon a review of the information,” the New Canaan policy says.

It isn’t immediately clear why Joyce—cited by New Canaan Police in June for possession of alcohol by a minor on a public street or highway, to which he pleaded not guilty—was reinstated by Darien’s administration.

Brenner was not immediately available for comment.

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