The New Canaan High School basketball assistant coach whose employment with the district ended following his arrest last weekend on multiple drug charges had been working for New Canaan Public Schools even though his state coaching certification had expired, Connecticut Department of Education records show.
Jose Amor’s five-year interscholastic/intramural coach permit had been issued Nov. 20, 2012, according to the state’s database, and expired Nov. 19, 2017. The NCHS boys varsity basketball season opened Dec. 19.
The discovery has prompted Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi to direct the NCHS Athletics Department “to perform a thorough review of every coach in our program to ensure that he/she holds a valid certificate for his/her current or upcoming season,” Luizzi said in an open letter emailed Tuesday evening to “the School Community.”
“I also wish to confirm for the school community that our review of this matter will include a comprehensive review of the background checking procedures utilized for all potential employees,” Luizzi said in the letter. “The primary consideration in background checks is the safety and wellbeing of students. The school district performs the mandatory criminal history background checks for all new staff members through fingerprinting with the NCPD, which initiates both a Connecticut Criminal History Record Request and an FBI Conviction Information Request. The district also initiates an additional screening performed by a service, Background Investigation Bureau LLC, which includes a search of sexual offender registries and criminal history.”
According to The Advocate, Stamford police found Amor to be in possession of 20 bags of heroin and charged him with multiple drug-related offenses.
Formerly a basketball coach at Westhill High School, Amor also had been arrested in 2016 following accusations that he had tipped off one of his players there that he was a suspect in a shooting, leading to a misdemeanor charge of interfering with police. Amor’s criminal record in that matter was erased one year ago after he completed a form of parole, though Google search returns related to the incident remain high.
Luizzi in his letter said that the district is conducting a review of its background checking procedures.
“I have directed the Human Resources Department to immediately add procedures to the background checking process, including social media search and Google search,” he said. “Additional procedures may be added once our comprehensive review is completed, with a focus on obtaining reliable information in order to make informed decisions in the best interests of our students.”
Under a state law that took effect more than four years ago, the primary responsibility of an athletic director is “ensuring that each athletic coach in the athletic program holds a coaching permit issued by the state board.”
It wasn’t immediately clear whether the district’s processes on hiring teachers also apply to coaches.
Under the Board of Education’s own policies on “Recruitment, Screening, Interviewing and Selection of Certified Personnel” (see page 87 here), the superintendent makes recommendations on hiring. That recommendation is to include “a copy of Connecticut Certification or letter from the State Department of Education confirming that candidate is certified and eligible to teach at the opening of school,” according to the policy.