October 10. 2013 9:07PM

Franklin superintendent to step down due to 'harassment'

Union Leader Correspondent

FRANKLIN — Having had several charges against her disproved by the state’s Department of Education, Franklin-Hill School Superintendent Dr. Maureen Ward is leaving the district in December because of “harassment” by the city council and many city residents, according to Franklin-Hill School Board Chair Kathleen Russo.

“She is retiring, which is one of the saddest pieces of Franklin history there is,” Russo said. “She’s leaving because she’s spent the last six months bobbing and weaving around people who have tried to undermine her at every turn, despite the fact that she brought so much to our schools.”

Ward, who came to the city in 2010 and is under contract until July 2015, has reached a buyout agreement with the school board that will pay her approximately $60,000 at the end of December. It also gives her $3,500 to pay legal fees in defense of several charges levied against her by former Franklin High School football Coach Greg Husband and numerous other city residents.

A search is on for an interim superintendent, Russo said. Ward, who was being paid $126,000 this year, will work part-time through November and leave the district officially on Dec. 31.

Husband, who could not be reached for comment, was not rehired as football coach in April because of alleged unsportsmanlike conduct by his team last year. He was elected to the school board last month.

According to Russo, Husband and other city residents have filed “frivolous” complaints with more than one state agency, claiming Ward lied about her certification, and that she harassed Husband after a summer football camp session that allegedly included female participants.

But in a Sept. 20 letter to Ward, Dr. Judith Fillion of the Department of Education said she found “no factual evidence exists” indicating any misconduct by Ward, in the certification process or in her dealings with Husband.

A divided school board decided to reach the agreement with Ward, Russo said, and let her retire early from her contract. The board’s decision was based in part on substantial improvements in student test scores.

“We’ve shown the highest NECAP improvements of any school district, and that’s because of Dr. Ward,” Russo said.

“She’s at retirement age, but it’s really sad that she’s had to retire; she brought so much to Franklin. But Mr. Husband and the city council do not want education first, they want athletics first, and that hasn’t allowed (Ward) to do her job.”