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June 12. 2013 8:55PM

Franklin School Board chairman: Vacancy was filled illegally

FRANKLIN — The City Council’s appointment of a strong supporter of former football coach Greg Husband to a newly vacant School Board seat has drawn scathing criticism from board Chairman Ray Yonaitis, who said the appointment was not done legally.

Chad Carey was appointed Monday to the board, replacing former School Board member Brian Boynton, who is moving to South Carolina.Carey has been a vocal supporter of Husband since the School Board decided not to rehire the nine-year coach last month.
The board said its decision was based on a state athletic association’s investigation into alleged taunting by the Franklin football players of opponents at the state championship game last fall.Yonaitis said by law it is the responsibility of the School Board, not the City Council, to fill vacancies occurring on the board.

“It is our position, therefore, that the City Council has no authority to make the proposed appointment and that any attempt by it to do so will be in violation of the law,” Yonaitis said.

“The mayor and council had reason to question whether or not the appointment of Chad Carey was legal; in the interests of justice, they should have postponed making the appointment until they fully investigated the law. That they didn’t speaks to their belief that they are above the law and can intimidate or bully others into doing their bidding.”

Mayor Ken Merrifield said the council has always appointed School Board members and has never needed School Board approval to do so.

“Chairman Yonaitis was appointed by the City Council. I can’t remember an instance when a School Board member was not appointed by the City Council,” said Merrifield, who was a School Board member for eight years before becoming mayor.

The appointment came days after petitions were presented to the council with 100 signatures each from city residents asking for the removal of Yonaitis and SAU 18 School Board Chairman Kathleen Russo because of what petitioners claim was mismanagement of the situation surrounding the nonrenewal of Husband’s contract.

The city has verified the petition signatures, city officials said, and the council will likely hold a hearing on the matter in the near future, Merrifield said.

In his resignation letter of June 1, Boynton made note of the ongoing battles between the council and the city’s school boards.

“I truly hope that in the near future both the city council and school board of Franklin will be able to resolve their differences and begin to work together as a joint group to serve the needs of the great city of Franklin,” Boynton wrote.

dseufert@newstote.com


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