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Board Member Resigns

Dismissed Girls Coach Quits Before Meeting

Claremont School Board member Gene Grumman in an undated photograph. (e-Ticker News photograph)

Claremont School Board member Gene Grumman in an undated photograph. (e-Ticker News photograph)

Claremont — School Board member Gene Grumman, who was recently dismissed from coaching a girls club soccer team because of inappropriate comments he had made to players, has resigned from the School Board.

Grumman said Monday he mailed in his letter of resignation to the superintendent last Thursday, two days before he learned that his behavior would be a subject of public discussion at Wednesday’s School Board meeting. The letter was received Monday. It is likely the board will accept the resignation at its meeting.

“There is no reason for me to be there,” Grumman said Monday.

In his letter, Grumman said his continued presence on the board might adversely affect winning approval from voters on crucial school business such as budgets.

Grumman said he was not warned that the controversy surrounding him had landed on the meeting’s agenda. He also said he had not informed his fellow board members of his decision to resign.

Last month, Grumman was relieved of his duties with the independent Sullivan Football Club, as well as the city parks and recreation department, after several parents reported that he had used inappropriate language while coaching 9- and 10-year-old girls on the club.

Grumman apologized to the parents.

In his resignation letter, Grumman said voters knew he had “baggage” when he was elected to the board in March 2012, but “I was still elected.”

Grumman was dismissed as Stevens High School girls varsity soccer coach in 2002 after making comments that were sexual in nature, and in 2007 he was sued by the parents of a student who claimed he had made crude and inappropriate comments about her physical appearance in front of other students during a biology class in 2005. The suit was settled out of court for $90,000.

In his letter, Grumman said his attendance at meetings has been “exemplary” and he worked to be an “effective board member.”

“I believe I have gone beyond the scope of the board meeting to research and investigate concerns before I vote,” he wrote. “Personally, I believe I can separate the adult realm of the School Board from that of youth sports. I deeply regret the sports error.”

He blamed the media for his predicament, writing that reporters failed to provide a balanced picture of his “work over the years in youth soccer and basketball.”

The letter concluded with concern that his continued presence on the board could affect the outcome of a budget, bond or contract vote and therefore he was resigning.

Asked Monday about whether he believed he had been treated fairly, Grumman replied, “I think Aaron Hernandez has received more justice and due process.” Hernandez, a former tight end with the New England Patriots, has been charged in the killing of a semi-pro football player.

School Board Chairman Richard Seaman said Monday night he urged Grumman to step down when the stories first surfaced about his comments. “I spoke to him and absolutely encouraged him to resign,” Seaman said. “Those behaviors toward young women are just reprehensible.”

Seaman said he was prepared to seek a motion to condemn Grumman’s conduct. “His behaviors are inconsistent with the School Board and the audience we represent,” Seaman said.

In the wake of recent media reports, Grumman also resigned his seat on the Stevens High School Renovation Committee. That resignation was announced at the Oct. 30 School Board meeting but no further discussion took place.

Board Vice Chairwoman Heather Irish said Seaman and Superintendent Middleton McGoodwin drafted Wednesday’s agenda.

“Richard and I did chat about this,” Irish said. “From my point of view, it is something we had to address because of the (students) we represent. If something happens affecting who we represent, we should have a general discussion.”

Irish added that the board wanted to give the public an opportunity to weigh in on the controversy, although the board did not intend to request Grumman’s resignation.

“It was hard for us because we don’t want to set a precedent,” Irish said. “We can’t demand he step down. He was elected. But if the person is not portraying what voters expect, which is to represent the children of Claremont with dignity and respect, we have to discuss that.”

Grumman said he has heard little from the public on the incident that led to his dismissal as a coach, although the School Board chairman had made his own thoughts clear.

“He said he was disappointed I did not resign at the last meeting,” Grumman said about Seaman. “I assume this puts and end to the issue as far as the School Board chairman is concerned.”

Seaman said Monday he has heard from parents and others in the community who expressed anger over the way Grumman had treated some children.

“The hurt this has caused families, parents and young girls, it is hard to put into words,” Seaman said. “We need to stick up for kids and women.”

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at ogrady56@yahoo.com.