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Judge hears Franklin school board injunction request

Union Leader Correspondent

July 26. 2013 6:33PM

FRANKLIN — A judge heard arguments for and against a school board injunction on the city council Friday afternoon but did not rule on it.

Members of the council and the board made their cases to Merrimack County Superior Court Judge Richard B. McNamara, as the board sought an injunction to prevent the council from replacing board chairs Ray Yonaitis and Kathleen Russo as signers of two petitions are asking.

The board also asked McNamara to prevent the board from holding a hearing Monday night on the petitions, each of which was signed by 100 city residents who claim that Yonaitis and Russo mishandled the case of former Franklin High School football coach Greg Husband, who was not rehired this spring.

McNamara listened to both sides' lawyers make their case Friday afternoon, then asked questions of both sides before taking the matter to his chambers, according to Mayor Ken Merrifield.

But McNamara did not issue a ruling Friday, which left both governing bodies unsure if the council's scheduled Monday hearing on the petitions would be stopped by the judge as the school board requested.

Merrifield said as of Friday, the hearing was on, set for 7 p.m. in the council's chambers.

"The judge knows the hearing is scheduled for Monday night," Merrifield said. "Unless the judge enjoins me I will hold that hearing."

Yonaitis did not comment after the hearing, saying the board would wait for the judge's decision.

The petitions were filed with the council after council was not rehired in April. The school board claims it decided against rehiring him because he had been cited twice by the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association for alleged unsportsmanlike conduct by his players, once for allegedly running up the score of a football game and a second time, in the championship game last fall, when it was claimed that his players taunted their opponents.

Husband said Friday the claims by the school board are without base, saying NHIAA committees found his team had not done anything wrong.

His supporters, including current and former football players, said the school board acted wrongly in not considering all the evidence – especially a video of the alleged taunting incidents – before letting Husband go.

"School board members were emailed a list of violations that they committed over the past 14 months (last) weekend," Husband said in an email. "I explained, this list only covers the actions that I am aware of. The board knows it's about their actions and violations of school policy, state policy and possibly even state law."

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 also said it would be illegal under state law for the council to remove elected school board members.

The board is asking for a temporary order barring the council from removing board members and a permanent order to do the same. Yonaitis has said the board had to find a new football coach because the NHIAA threatened sanctions against the school unless student athlete behavior improved.

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