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July 29. 2013 10:24PM

Ex-Franklin coach says he was harassed by school officials

FRANKLIN — Embattled former football coach Greg Husband told the city council and a council chamber packed with residents Monday night that he filed a harassment complaint against SAU 18 Superintendent Dr. Maureen Ward last summer that was not adequately addressed.

Husband, the longtime coach of the Franklin High School football team who was not rehired by the school board in April, was speaking at a council public hearing on two 100-signature petitions asking for the removal of city School Board Chair Ray Yonaitis and SAU 18 School Board Chair Kathleen Russo.

The board said it had to find a new football coach because the NHIAA threatened sanctions against the school unless student athlete behavior improved. It said Husband had been cited twice by the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association for unsportsmanlike conduct by his players — once for allegedly running up the score in a game, and once for allegedly taunting opponents.

Residents signing the petition were critical of what Husband and his supporters claim was a mishandling of Husband's status as coach of the football team. The board limited discussion and would not view a video of the alleged taunting incident, they said.

The board had filed an injunction to prevent Monday night's meeting, saying the petitions had no basis for action in city or state law. A Merrimack County judge ruled the hearing could go on.

Husband, who claimed Monday night that the NHIAA charges in both cases were without merit, said the school board did not adequately investigate a harassment complaint filed last August.

In the complaint, Husband alleged that "since he left his wife on May 29, 2012," he had been harassed by Ward and Franklin High Principal Richard Towne about his performance as coach.

And he alleged that Ward harassed him by saying "we are not running a dating service" after Ward learned that females had attended football camp last August after the superintendent had specifically prohibited "female chaperones."

Husband said he was notified in October that the school system had investigated his claim and determined it to be unwarranted.

He said the school board acted then as it did this year when it decided not to rehire him after the NHIAA threatened sanctions.

"None of my witnesses were interviewed, and I was never given an opportunity to meet with the (school) board," Husband said.

"This is not about the firing of a football coach," Husband said. "It's about power, abuse of power, and abuse of control (by the school board)."

Several people rose to speak in support of Husband at the meeting.


At the end of the hearing, the council decided to take written testimony on the matter for the next 10 days and to forward that and minutes of Monday night’s meeting to the state Attorney General’s Office for consideration and a ruling.
 
“That way any potential conflicts between the council and the board can be avoided,” said Mayor Ken Merrifield.
 
After the meeting, Yonaitis released a copy of the school board's final investigation report into the harassment claim. Dated Sept. 25, 2012, it was completed by M. Thomas Trenholm, an attorney with Drummond Woodsum Law Firm.

In the report, Trenholm states that Husband told Ward that the females who attended football camp were not "chaperones." He said they attended only to watch the scrimmage with other members of the public, or were at camp at other times because they were a family member of a player or coach, or were a significant other of a coach.

Trenholm said Ward acknowledged making the "dating service" remark to Husband after seeing photos of females — adults and minors — at the camp. Yonaitis, who has attended camp in the past, heard Ward's comment and agreed with it, Trenholm said.

"Yonaitis said that young females have never been allowed to attend anything other than the scrimmage in the past, and he was appalled at the photos of young females swimming with the players near their cabins," Trenholm said in his report, which found no grounds for Husband's harassment claim.

"Mr. Yonaitis stressed that by prohibiting female chaperones, the school board had made it clear that it was not appropriate for any females to attend anything but the scrimmage at camp, even if they were chaperones," Trenholm wrote.

dseufert@newstote.com



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