Earlier record questioned of ex-Fairfield teacher in sex case
Updated 6:37 am, Tuesday, July 14, 2015
More than a decade before a Fairfield Ludlowe High School teacher pleaded guilty to having sex with a student, he was given a glowing job recommendation at Stamford High School — even though he had recently been suspended there, according to disciplinary records obtained by Hearst Connecticut Media.
The letter of recommendation characterized Glen Mishuck as a well-respected English teacher and baseball coach who worked well with students of all levels of ability. It was written by then-Principal Tony Pavia, and dated May 9, 2002.
“He is, without question, one of the finest teachers and coaches at our high school,” Pavia wrote in the letter, going on to laud Mishuck for several paragraphs.
Just four months before Pavia wrote the letter of recommendation, records obtained through the state Freedom of Information Act show Mishuck was suspended for several days, for reasons the Stamford school district won’t disclose.
No document or letter explaining the suspension was included in Mishuck’s file, despite such a letter being common practice in disciplinary proceedings. The records available state variously that the suspension was either two or four days long.
Pavia said he could not comment on the suspension or give details of the disciplinary proceeding that he was a part of, citing school policy.
But he did call the offense for which Mishuck was suspended “a lower-level issue.”
“I interpreted it to be a pretty stupid mistake (on Mishuck’s part),” Pavia said.
Asked if the offense could be construed as sexual in any way, Pavia said, “Not at all.”
Pavia recently came out of retirement to lead Stamford High School after two of its principals were arrested in the 2014 teacher-sex case against Danielle Watkins. His position as interim principal ended last week.
Hearst Connecticut Media has also learned that the Stamford case mentioned in Mishuck’s pre-trial hearings involved a female student at Stamford High School while he was teaching there more than 10 years ago.
Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Ann Lawlor said last week the former student had contacted Fairfield police shortly after Mishuck’s arrest there in 2013 to report an incident involving Mishuck.
Lawlor would not give details about the woman’s allegations beyond saying that they were “sexual in nature.”
Lawlor brought it up in open court during pre-trial proceedings for Mishuck’s sex assault charges in Fairfield in May, saying she would present evidence that Mishuck had a sexual relationship with a student when he was a teacher in Stamford, if the case went to trial.
Within 24 hours of Lawlor’s statement, Mishuck agreed to plead guilty to four of the 17 charges in exchange for a lesser sentence, rather than take his chances before a jury.
No further information came out in court — Mishuck’s plea deal ended the trial.
“There is somebody from Stamford High who was willing to testify,” Lawlor said. She did not name the woman. “What ultimately would have come of that, I don’t know.”
Fairfield police did not investigate the case, Lawlor said. The Stamford Police Department was unaware of any such accusations, Lieutenant Diedrich Hohn of the Bureau of Criminal Investigations said Friday.
Lawlor said she didn’t think the information had been reported before.
“I didn’t understand it to be something that had ever been reported. My perception is that it wasn’t, but I don’t know for sure,” she said.
She did not divulge the former student’s name or age or years when she was a student at Stamford High School.
Pavia said he had no knowledge of the evidence Lawlor told a judge she had.
And there is no evidence that Mishuck’s suspension was related to the information the former student reported to Fairfield police.
A review of Mishuck’s personnel records from his 10 years in Stamford shows no mention of any such allegations. The documents regarding his suspension show only that a payroll document indicates four days of wages were deducted from his Nov. 21, 2001, paycheck for “administrative leave without pay.”
However another document in his file — a letter signed by then-Personnel Administrator Peter Dibble, informed Mishuck that he was suspended for two days, Nov. 1 and 2.
The personnel file indicates that he left the Stamford school district in apparent good standing in 2002.
Leave of absence
After teaching English at Turn of River Middle School for the 1993-94 school year, Mishuck was transferred to Stamford High School, where he taught until 2002, and also coached baseball.
About five months after his suspension in 2001 for the incident Pavia described as a “stupid mistake,” Mishuck requested a leave of absence to follow his wife to a new job in Albany, N.Y. In his letter requesting leave dated April 28, 2002, he said his wife’s new job could be permanent or temporary.
His request was approved by the Board of Education.
It’s not uncommon for a tenured teacher to request a year-long leave of absence. If the teacher returns within the year, he or she keeps their tenured status.
Several days after Mishuck’s request was granted, Pavia wrote his letter of recommendation.
A year later Mishuck asked for an extension of his leave of absence, saying his wife’s job continued to require her to live outside of Stamford. The request was denied by the Board of Education.
Speaking this week by telephone, Pavia reiterated the level of respect the school community had for Mishuck while he was there.
“In my time as principal, I received a number of warm endorsements of him,” he said. “I truly believe that he was an outstanding teacher and coach.”
In the 2002 recommendation, Pavia boldfaced multiple phrases and words in his description of Mishuck, including, “exceptional,” “instill enthusiasm,” and “tremendous asset.”
Mishuck was hired by Fairfield in 2004, where he taught for nine years before his arrest. He resigned a month before his October arrest when he was charged with repeatedly having sex with a 17-year-old student from his Advanced Placement American Studies class at Farifield Ludlowe High School.
He faces between 18 months and three-and-a-half years in prison at his Aug. 7 sentencing.
— Staff reporter John Nickerson contributed to this report.