region 14

Region 14 Schools Superintendent Placed on Paid Leave Amid Vaccine Clinic Controversy

NBC Connecticut

The Board of Education voted Thursday to place the superintendent of Region 14 schools under paid administrative leave amid an investigation into a controversial vaccine clinic.

People in Bethlehem and Woodbury are angry that a vaccination clinic, which they believed was supposed to prioritize teachers, may have allowed others to be vaccinated first.

Dr. Joe Olzacki is actively being investigated for his role in supposedly allowing administrators, central office employees, Board of Education members and their spouses to be vaccinated before teachers at the clinic last month. Limited doses meant some teachers did not get vaccinated.

In a virtual meeting Thursday night, the board unanimously voted to place the superintendent on leave "until further notice and pending the outcome of the investigation," according to the Board of Ed.

Region 14 school staff previously voted 186 to 6, showing no-confidence in Olzacki and asking for his resignation.

With the state currently under phase 1b of coronavirus vaccination, people 65 and over as well as first responders are eligible for the vaccine. With this in mind, it raises the question as to how Region 14 could have a vaccine clinic set up in the first place.

A spokesperson with the Department of Public Health previously offered this explanation of how it could have happened:

"There were a few days right at the beginning where people who were not 75+ were able to make appointments and some vaccinators set up clinics for teachers and others. The state told these clinics and individuals that if they had things scheduled up until Thursday the 21st, they could keep them, but anything after that would need to be canceled and slots filled with individuals 75+," spokesperson Maura Fitzgerald said in a statement.

Region 14's vaccination clinic was scheduled for Jan. 20.

NBC Connecticut has reached out to the superintendent's office for comment but has not yet heard back.

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