Former Joel Barlow HS athletic director stripped of honors after investigation determined 'inappropriate conduct' with student

Photo of Shayla Colon
Exterior, Joel Barlow High School, in Redding, Conn. May 29, 2019.

Exterior, Joel Barlow High School, in Redding, Conn. May 29, 2019.

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

REDDING — An investigation by the local school district found that a prominent former athletic director at Joel Barlow High School “engaged in inappropriate conduct with a student in the 1970’s,” the superintendent said this week in a public meeting.

Superintendent Rydell Harrison told the Region 9 School District at Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting that “honoraria related to” former Barlow teacher, coach and athletic director Pamela Goodpaster would be removed by the Easton, Redding and Region 9 district after concluding she took part in inappropriate conduct.

The discussion came as Harrison spoke about upcoming end-of-school-year awards that would be handed out in the coming weeks. Barlow has a “Pamela Goodpaster Service Award,” given to a student that left “an indelible mark on the JBHS community” according to the description of the award on the school’s website.

Harrison declined to comment further when asked about the specific allegations, how they surfaced and and the specific honoraria, citing privacy concerns.

“Region 9 has reported the information to all the appropriate authorities but, given the passage of time, does not expect any further action,” he said in a statement that was read during the meeting. “Rather than removing honoraria related to Ms. Goodpaster with no explanation, the Region 9 School District concluded that it was important to be transparent with the community about the reason.”

Calls and emails to Goodpaster were not returned Tuesday and Wednesday.

Police were made aware of the allegation of inappropriate conduct in November 2020, Redding Police Chief Mark O’Donnell told The News-Times in an interview Wednesday. O’Donnell said a person reached out to Glenn Lungarini, the executive director of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference Nov. 18, 2020 claiming they “had a relationship” with Goodpaster in May 1976 as a student at Barlow. The CIAC is the state’s governing body for high school athletics and inducted Goodpaster into its Hall of Honor in 2017.

Lungarini forwarded the claim to Harrison Nov. 19 and Harrison sent it to O’Donnell Nov. 20, the police chief stated.

O’Donnell said no criminal investigation has been opened because there has been no formal complaint filed with the department and because the individual “never furthered the investigation with police.”

“Right now it's an accusation from a former student from the 70s against the former athletic director,” O’Donnell said. “It's just an accusation. We don't know if it happened on school grounds, at a house, any of that stuff.”

Lungarini said Wednesday the organization “has likewise rescinded honoraria related to Ms. Goodpaster,” declining to comment further about the investigation or the email chain forwarded to Harrison and the police.

Goodpaster spent 26 years as the school’s athletic director, in addition to working as a teacher. She was inducted into the school’s athletics hall of fame in 2014 as part of its inaugural class. She added eight girls and six boys programs during her time as athletic director, in addition to Barlow’s athletic programs winning 49 state championships during that period. She was also involved with sports committees and leadership positions with the CIAC and the Connecticut Association of Athletic Directors, according to the CIAC website.

She was also a previous commissioner of the South West Conference in Connecticut, now serving as its executive secretary, according to the organization’s website.