Connecticut high school rugby coach hopes to join town school board ... if it's legal

A high school rugby coach in Southern Connecticut hopes to join his town’s school board, but may face even sterner opposition than others on the Republican ballot: the state board of ethics.

As reported by the Greenwich Time, Greenwich (Conn.) High School rugby coach Joe Kelly plans to run for a seat on the Greenwich School Board. Assuming he runs, he would be one of three Republican candidates vying for two seats on the board.

Yet getting on that ballot is no done deal, precisely because Kelly works as the varsity rugby coach on campus. Per the Time, Kelly earned $7,527 as coach for the 2019 Spring Rugby Season. While his salary isn’t structured as direct from the school district, it is agreed upon as part of a deal with the Greenwich Education Association.

That may be enough to deem Kelly’s hopes of a seat on the school board null and void. In 2018, a Democratic candidate was elected to the school board in Danbury, a town on the other side of Fairfield County, but then resigned the seat when told that she couldn’t accept a job with the school district.

That same logic would seem to rule out Kelly from a spot on the board. But Kelly and his supporters aren’t giving up. For now, Kelly continues to await advice from the Greenwich legal department. A town attorney is studying statutes. The Republican town committee chair is studying the issue. Everyone is trying to figure out if Kelly can simultaneously hold both a spot on the school board and on the rugby pitch sideline.

For his part, Kelly has made it clear that he will have a very difficult time deciding whether to remain as a coach or serve the school board if forced to choose.

“I have made a commitment to this (rugby) program,” Kelly, who has led Greenwich to nine titles in 10 years, told the Time. “I’ve made a commitment to the parents and I’ve made a commitment to the youth. I said I would be there for the long run. I told the kids coming in that they would have the same level of commitment that the kids who just graduated got. There would be a lot to discuss because I have made promises.”

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