(UPDATED) BREAKING NEWS: Bethel High School Music Teacher Is Put On ‘Leave Of Absence’ With No Reason Given

Report by Paula Antolini
April 10, 2018 6:31PM EDT


Photo: Bethel High School Music/Orchestra teacher Mr. Damon Coachman. (Bethel Advocate file photo 2015.)


(UPDATED) BREAKING NEWS: Bethel High School Music Teacher Is Put On ‘Leave Of Absence’ With No Reason Given

Today Bethel High School (BHS) administrators Principal Christopher M. Troetti, Associate Principal Gary Lawlor and Assistant Principal Mari Lerz sent a notice to parents and guardians (view letter below) informing them that a BHS orchestra/music teacher, Mr. Damon Coachman, was put on leave of absence, but no reason was given.

Social media is ablaze with speculation as to what has happened in the music department to cause this, and other, sudden events. Once again we have messaged Mr. Troetti and are awaiting his reply.

This teacher “leave of absence” comes right after administrators issued an extensive list of music wing rules on April 5th with only one sentence explaining why this action was done, so far, and that is, the “The Bethel High School Music Department is working to enforce protocols they have created in an effort to promote a positive culture that ensures the safety and security of all students and staff members.” This first letter regarding the music department was sent from BHS Principal Christopher Troetti, BHS Associate Principal Gary Lawlor, and BHS Assistant Principal Mari Lerz, dated April 2, 2018 but sent on April 5th.

Developing story, we will update as information comes in.





Dear Parent/Guardian,

We are writing to inform you that your son/daughter’s music teacher, Mr. Damon Coachman, is on a leave of absence. During this time, Frank Gawle will be covering the Symphonic Band courses. Mr. Gawle is a retired Band instructor from Wilton High School with over 30 years experience. Mr. Gawle currently serves as an adjunct professor at Western Connecticut State University. We are thrilled to welcome him to our music department during this period of time.

Mr. Rick Baumer, with the assistance of his student teacher, Ms. Samantha Feliciano, will oversee Mr. Coachman’s Orchestra classes, Ms. Karen Neville will instruct Mr. Coachman’s Keyboarding class, and Dr. Rod Doble from Bethel Middle School will instruct Mr. Coachman’s Jazz ensemble.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Rick Baumer, the Music Department coordinator at baumerr@bethel.k12.ct.us, Mari Lerz, Assistant Principal, at lerzm@bethel.k12.ct.us or Chris Troetti, BHS Principal at troettic@bethel.k12.ct.us.

We appreciate your patience and understanding during this period of time. We will keep you updated as more information becomes available.



Christopher M. Troetti, Principal

Gary Lawlor, Associate Principal

Mari Lerz, Assistant Principal



UPDATE April 11, 2018, 5:38PM EDT:


We sent the following questions to Bethel High School Principal Christopher Troetti on April 10, 2018 at 7:11PM:

Regarding the letter sent to parents and guardians today, April 9, 2018, from yourself, Mr. Lawlor, and Ms. Lerz, (view letter below) can you tell me why orchestra/music teacher Mr. Coachman was suddenly put on a leave of absence? Can you indicate what transpired to lead to this decision and who made this decision about Mr. Coachman? How long is the leave of absence for? Or is Mr Coachman fired, and if so, why?
Social media is already talking about this and I’d like to get the correct facts from you for my report.
“Would you please write a statement and send it to me via email? Thank you.”


The response from BHS Principal Troetti on April 11, 2018, 1:54PM, was:

“I ask that you direct your questions to Dr. Carver.”


We contacted Dr. Christine Carver, Superintendent of Bethel Public Schools, on April 11, 2018, 2:54PM, asking the same questions, and she replied on April 11, 2018, 3:10PM:

“We can not discuss or comment on personnel matters. The intent of Mr. Troetti’s email was to communicate to parents how we would ensure our students would continue to recieve high quality music instruction and oversight of extracurricular activities. As Mr. Troetti email indicated, we will keep our parents updated as more information becomes available.”





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