Fired football coach wants to get back on the field

Pablo Ortiz Jr. at a Bulkeley High School football game. (WFSB file photo)

A high school football coach in Hartford has been fired, amid a Department of Children and Families investigation.

School officials have not specified why they dismissed Pablo Ortiz Jr., but issued a brief statement on Tuesday night saying "As of Friday, Jan. 27, 2017, Mr. Pablo Ortiz is no longer employed by Hartford Public Schools."

On Wednesday, the Department of Children and Families confirmed that Ortiz Jr. is an active employee with the department, adding that his duties have been restricted pending an investigation.

"He is actively employed as a social worker. His duties have been restricted pending investigation," DCF said.

Eyewitness News has learned DCF has been called in to investigate some sort of child safety allegations during his time as a coach.

The department wouldn't comment on any specifics, but in statement said, "the department takes incidents such as this very seriously and has the highest expectations for its staff, especially related to child safety. The employee currently is the subject of an investigation."

He has been a social worker for the past 13 years, and according to public records, he earns about $137,000 per year.

Ortiz received a termination letter that said in part "Hartford Public Schools will no longer require your services as an athletic coach of any sport or capacity," officials said.

Ortiz was the varsity football coach at Bulkeley High School. He has been there for over three seasons.

On Wednesday, Hartford Superintendent of Schools Leslie Torres-Rodriguez said "The first priority of the Hartford Public Schools is to ensure student safety. As Acting Superintendent of Schools, I will not allow any unacceptable staff behavior during my tenure. In the unfortunate event that, despite our best efforts to the contrary, individuals engage in inappropriate interactions with students, with their families, with staff or with any of the visitors who come to our schools and events, such individuals will be dealt with swiftly in accordance with the policies established by the Hartford Board of Education. Furthermore, we have recently provided enhanced district-wide training for employees regarding Board policy on “Reports of Suspected Abuse or Neglect of Children or Sexual Assault of Students by School Employees.” I have made it the highest level of priority for district leadership and for all staff to receive this training and comply with the Board’s policy. Hartford Public Schools is currently investigating allegations of possible failures in the reporting process and will comment further upon the conclusion of the investigation. In the meantime, please know that all appropriate steps are being taken to ensure the safety of our students."

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