NEWSFLASH: Darien High football Coach Trifone gets third suspension, files grievance

Darien High School football coach Rob Trifone recently received a third suspension for what the district called a FERPA violation. Trifone filed a grievance in response.

Darien High School football coach and teacher Rob Trifone recently received a third suspension from his teaching job, without pay, from the Darien School District. In response, Trifone filed a grievance saying he did not agree there was just cause for the suspension.

The suspension details came from documents obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request by The Darien Times.

Trifone was suspended for violating FERPA laws (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act), Board Policy 4300 (using the district’s computer system to send personally identifiable student information to third parties) and/or violating the directives of school administration.

The suspension was for 10 school days. The last day was June 15, the day before the last day of school and high school graduation.

In the memo to Trifone dated May 30, Human Resources Director Marjorie Cion wrote that Trifone was suspended on May 17 “following an investigation into concerns related to your electronic communications.”

Read the full FOI memo and agreement here.

In the memo, Cion says she and Darien High School Principal Ellen Dunn and  a UniServ representative met with Trifone on May 17.

“During our meeting, you acknowledge that your emails disclosed personally identifiable student information, namely the identity of the student [redacted] in violation of FERPA and Policy 5265. You explained that you were sharing concerns regarding  [redacted]. You were also given the opportunity to review email communications in which you appear to request that others [redacted.] In these emails, you appear to seek that those [redacted.]

Your explanation is not consistent with the language of your emails in which you expressly note that you are not allowed to make [redacted].”

The memo concludes that “the school administration determined that you violated FERPA, Board 5265, Board Policy 4300 and engaged in subordination” and that “Ms. Dunn and I informed you that your misconduct in this matter is serious.”

Trifone was informed that he would serve his unpaid, 10-day suspension on May 15 to 19 and June 9, 12, 13,14, and 15.

The memo adds that Trifone is “expected to adhere to all school rules — including Board policies related to student information, in the future. Any further misconduct will result in additional discipline, up to and including termination of employment.”

Trifone received a two-week suspension in October following an incident in which he struck the helmet of a player on Oct. 1, according to a release from the Darien school district.

Following that suspension, Trifone was suspended for an additional two weeks “effective immediately.” Schools Superintendent Dan Brenner confirmed at the time that the second suspension was related to the same Oct. 1 incident for which Trifone was previously suspended.

“This comes as a result of the District accessing a campus security video that was not previously seen,” as per the district’s release.

“I take full responsibility for the incident and I am truly sorry for my actions,” Trifone said in a statement released by Darien school administrators at the time.

A memorandum of agreement between Trifone and the Darien Board of Education is attached to the initial memo to Trifone, saying the “parties agreed to schedule the suspension in a manner that did not adversely affect crucial and extra-curricular programming for students of Darien High School.

In it, it is noted that Trifone denies that he should be suspended and filed a grievance that “Superintendent of School (the “Superintendent”) and the Board lacked just cause to suspend or otherwise discipline Mr. Trifone under the contract.”

It also notes that Trifone only served five actual days of the 10-day suspension and the remaining five were served in the form of a pay deduction.

Further, the agreement notes that both parties acknowledge Trifone “accepted and served four (4) weeks of suspension from coaching October 2 through October 30, 2016 in connection with the matter of October 1, 2016.”

“Mr. Trifone and the Superintendent acknowledge that is in the interests of the school community to resolve, with finality, the employment decisions, related to the incident of October 1, 2016 and the suspension referenced in this Agreement,” it says.

The agreement also says that the superintendent and Trifone “agree that they have worked cooperatively in the interests of the school community to resolve their differences in this matter.”

The agreement is signed by Trifone and dated June 15.

Darien Schools Superintendent Dan Brenner is out of the office until Tuesday and was unable to be reached for comment.  Trifone was also reached out to for comment but has not yet responded. 

School ended for Darien on June 16. Darien High School football resumes on Sept. 8, against Ridgefield.