Franklin school board members, city officials heading to court
FRANKLIN — City officials and school board members will be in Merrimack County Superior Court on Friday afternoon for a hearing on an injunction request filed by the school district against the city to prevent it from removing the two school board chairs — and from holding a public hearing Monday night to consider the issue.
The injunction request, meanwhile, gives new details regarding the school board’s decision to not rehire former Franklin High School football coach Greg Husband, claiming that before a recent state investigation he had previously been cited by the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association for running up the score of a football game.
Husband could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Though the city council has not taken any stand on two 100-signature petitions from city residents — one asking for removal from office of city School Board Chair Ray Yonaitis, the other asking for the removal of Kathleen Russo, chair of the SAU 18 school board, which serves Franklin and Hill — the city is named as the respondent in the injunction.
The hearing on the issue, scheduled for 1:30 p.m., was requested in part to stop the city council’s scheduled public hearing at 7 p.m. Monday night on the petitions. The council was advised by the city attorney to hold the hearing to abide by city law, city officials said.
The injunction claims the petitions, filed by residents upset about the board’s decision this spring not to rehire Husband, have no basis under city law.
The board is asking for a temporary order barring the council from removing board members and a permanent order to do the same.
As for Husband’s non-renewal, the request states that “as a result of unsportsmanlike conduct by the school’s football team at a championship game (last fall), and the failure of the football coach to control or reprimand his team, the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association placed all of the school’s athletic programs on probation.”
According to the board, the NHIAA had threatened a sanction against Husband for unsportsmanlike conduct in unnecessarily running up the score at a game.
“Fortunately, the school district was successful in defending the football coach in this prior matter,” the board said. “In large part due to the most recent NHIAA probation, the school board decided not to renew the football coach’s contract.”
The board fears that the council will act to remove Yonaitis and Russo.
“The threatened harm is irreparable because the removal of two elected officials from the school board negates and undermines the election process and will have a significant impact on the operations and voting of the remaining board and will set a dangerous precedent for the council interfering with the school board.”
Mayor Ken Merrifield said he didn’t see the need for the court hearing, saying the city council has not taken any steps beyond scheduling a public hearing on the matter.