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Franklin petition seeks to oust two from city’s school board

Union Leader Correspondent

June 17. 2013 7:07PM

FRANKLIN — City officials have verified that all the people who signed two petitions demanding that the city council remove the city’s two school board chairs from office are Franklin residents.

The school board, meanwhile, planned to discuss the petitions at its regularly scheduled meeting Monday night.

“I will be letting the full board to decide on what our next move is,” said Ray Yonaitis, chair of the Franklin School Board.

Yonaitis and Kathleen Russo, chair of the SAU 18 school board, which serves Franklin and Hill, are the subjects of two petitions brought before the city council earlier this month by former Franklin High School football player Derek Damour.

City Manager Elizabeth Dragon said the signatures were found to have been valid, and in many cases the same person signed both petitions.

The petitions ask the council to remove both from office given “just cause,” and both petitions request immediate hearings on the matter. As defined by the city charter, “just cause” for removal from city office requires the committing of a felony or documented misconduct.

Petitioners claim the school boards mishandled the situation surrounding former Franklin High School football coach Greg Husband, who was not rehired by the school boards in May because of worries about sanctions to Franklin athletic programs from the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association.

The NHIAA heard complaints from the opposing team in Franklin’s victory in last fall’s championship game, with coaches and players complaining that Franklin players taunted them. After an investigation with testimony from both teams, the association issued a stern warning to the school, threatening sanctions.

The board then chose not to rehire husband, saying they wanted better sportsmanship taught by their football coach.

Dragon said the city council has received legal counseling on the petitions and will likely discuss the matter at the council’s next meeting on July 8.

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