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Superintendent Yamin Discusses Recent Controversy

Shocking news came to light in early February when a Daytona Beach police officer observed a 2018 Lincoln Utility vehicle weaving in and out of the lane and almost hit a curb on September 3, 2022, at approximately 2:41 a.m.. After observing the car weave out of the lane a few more times, the officer pulled the car over, and in the car was Region 16’s Superintendent, Michael Yamin.

“It wasn’t a bad decision, or a mistake– it was a choice I made,” Yamin said. “I don’t get a free pass from that.”

Yamin, who was in Florida at the time visiting his elderly father, was the sole occupant of the vehicle. The officer noticed Yamin’s slurred speech and inability to stand or walk without stumbling. Yamin refused to partake in a field sobriety test; however, he did agree to a breath test. After two unsuccessful attempts at the breath test and two successful attempts, the results were two times over the legal limit. Yamin was then issued two citations that were in reference to failure to maintain lane and in reference to DUI. He was placed under custody without incident with a bond of $500.

The news of the incident caused a mix of emotions and opinions within the Region 16 community. The most prominent reaction was anger as members of the community felt blind sided by the news.

Yamin understands people’s ire regarding his arrest and respects their right to voice their own opinions without facing retaliation. 

“I don’t believe in being aggressive towards someone else because they’ve said something negative about me,” said Yamin. “This is my 30th year in education, and I’ve been an administrator for 25 years. I taught for five years but I’ve been a high school principal, superintendent, special [education], assistant superintendent… I wouldn’t retaliate.”

Other people within the community, however, were more forgiving on the premise that all people make mistakes.

The mixed reactions stemmed from the fact that Yamin did not initially inform the Board of Education of his arrest. Regarding this decision, he stated, “I think that [not telling the Board right away] was my second biggest mistake.”

After the arrest, Yamin immediately enrolled in substance abuse classes, began researching alcoholism and even took the liberty of installing a breathalyzer into his vehicle that prohibits the engine from starting if alcohol is detected on the driver’s breath.

He views this experience as a learning opportunity. The incident opened his eyes to his own abuse of alcohol.

“I would not say I’m an alcoholic,” Yamin stated, “but I think I have abused [alcohol] socially.”

Another rumor that began after the news was leaked was in regards to Yamin’s recent salary adjustment. While many believed Yamin signed a new contract that raised his salary $20,000, this is untrue. 

In a memo to district parents, Yamin clarified that, “On or about January 30, 2023, the Board of Education and I signed an addendum to my employment contract. The Addendum terminated the Board’s reimbursement of my state-mandated retirement contributions. It allowed me to relocate those same funds into a tax-sheltered annuity for purposes of retirement savings, at no additional cost to the Board of Education. I did not recently receive a raise nor did I sign a new contract.”

The Region 16 Board of Education voted to have Yamin partake in a two week, unpaid suspension as he failed to uphold the terms of the Connecticut Code of Professional Responsibility for Administrators. The Connecticut State Department of Education’s ethics code states that professional school administrators must “[o]bey local, state and national laws.”

“It’s a two week, unpaid suspension,” Yamin said. “I am hoping to donate that money to the Beacon Falls and Prospect food pantries.”

The terms of his suspension were determined at the board meeting on March 8th.

After his lapse in judgment, Yamin hopes to rebuild and regrow the region’s trust in himself by being open and transparent about the incident; without the trust from the community, he feels that he will not be able to effectively do his job. If the trust cannot be restored, he plans to resign from his position as superintendent. 

“I’m hopeful I will be a better person and a better administrator at the end of all this.”

Gianna Costanzo, Liana Demirs and Kayleigh Budnick

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