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October 13. 2013 8:52PM

Former Franklin football coach disputes role in forcing out school chief

FRANKLIN — Former Franklin High School football coach Greg Husband, who was elected to the city’s school board just months after the board decided not to rehire him as coach, is disputing claims by the school board chairman last week that he and his supporters “harassed” outgoing Superintendent Dr. Maureen Ward, leading to her retirement.

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.

She is retiring — and being allowed to leave her contract early — because she has been “undermined” frequently in the past year by Husband and others in Franklin who are more interested in athletics than education, said Franklin-Hill School Board Chairman Kathleen Russo. She also blamed the city council, saying councilors share that feeling.

Husband issued a statement Sunday saying that Russo’s claims are baseless, and emphasizing his dedication to education as well as athletics.

“Recently, (Russo) made very negative statements about the City Council and myself in the press. Unfortunately, (Russo) made comments that included false statements,” he alleged.

Husband questioned Ward’s motives in leaving the district and whether her actions had a negative impact on the school system.

“The facts speak for themselves. (Ward) started applying for jobs within months of accepting the position in Franklin.

“She has been a finalist for at least seven superintendent searches since the winter of 2011. She was a finalist for at least five positions during 2013.”

“Did applying for so many jobs negatively impact this individual’s performance in our district? This doesn’t sound like an individual that wanted to stay in Franklin,” he said.

He also defended his record as a responsible coach and, in that role, an educator.

“As the football coach at Franklin High School, I always felt football was a privilege, not a right. I expected my players to conduct themselves as champions on and off the field.”

“For many years I wrote to the faculty when school started annually and let them know that I expected my players to do their best in school, academically and from a behavioral perspective. Players were expected to do their work in school. If they did not, I had them see their teachers and miss practice. Their education always came first.”

In 2007, Husband said he developed the “homework club.”

“After school, for 45 minutes, the team was expected to do their homework and/or meet with their teachers to get extra help. This was pretty successful. In fact, other students, male and female, came to the cafeteria for assistance,” he said.

“We set up mentoring programs for students, and I actually have tutored students myself. Their success in the classroom and in life is what is really important.”

As to the claims that he favors athletics over academics, Husband said, “While (Russo) simply downplays it as athletics, the reality is it represents so much more to the development of our kids.

“The same can be said for other extra curricula activities like Band, Drama, Yearbook, and many other programs.”

dseufert@newstote.com


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