EAST HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The East Haven band director on administrative leave is headed back to work. Matt Laudano was put on paid administrative leave after some parents complained he was too harsh with students in the East Haven Co-op Marching Band.
Many of the students were unhappy with their performance on Saturday, and they discussed it afterward. Laudano met with them behind closed doors. Some parents said he bullied and verbally abused them when he addressed them.
Victoria Gentile plays the bass drum in the band. She was at the performance on Saturday and at the meeting that followed.
“I think that when he hears his students saying things about each other that shouldn’t be said, I think it hurts him,” said Gentile.
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East Haven High School Principal Vin DeNuzzo sent a letter home to parents. It said the investigation included more than 25 hours of interviews plus student, parent and alumni statements. It also said Laudano had been reinstated to his teaching and director positions, effective immediately.
“Me and my friend we were very excited about that,” said sophomore Stephanie Gentile, who plays the clarinet. “We are looking forward to him continuing his position as our director.”
Dr. Portia Bonner, East Haven Superintendent of Schools, hopes the band will learn about being on a team as well as coping skills. She said in a statement Wednesday that students and adults may have been misinterpreted.
When students met with administrators on Tuesday, they said they too wanted to move forward. Students say the meeting helped them to heal and that this won’t divide the band.
“As a band family we always need every single piece of that family,” said Stephanie Gentile. “Laudano is a very big part of that family.”
Though we’re told not everyone is happy that Laudano will continue to direct the band, students say they want the band to continue. During the investigation, students had some real worries about what would happen to it.
“I think everyone was a little scared about what was going to happen this Saturday, if we were going to have a band director for the competition or if we were even going to have a competition,” said Victoria Gentile.
Laudano will be back for the band’s practice Thursday night and for the New England Regional Championship competition on Saturday.
News 8 reached out to Laudano for a comment and we’re still waiting to hear back from him.