EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

February 2, 2013

Rafferty supporters want answers

Why did North Andover fire the popular football coach?

(Continued)

Holland and other requested to get on the agenda for the School Committee meetings this past week and next week. But they have been turned away.

Hutchinson said while he understands the frustration of so many people like Holland, personnel matters are not discussed publicly in North Andover Public Schools.

“If a meeting is set up, what do people expect us to say,” said Hutchinson. “We don’t discuss personnel decisions in public.”

Former player, Patrick Turner, who graduated in 2003 and was a junior in Rafferty’s first year, called his former coach the best he ever had.

“I can think of countless times that he was there for me as both a coach and a mentor, while I was a student and well after I graduated,” said Turner in an e-mail to the Eagle-Tribune. “Playing for Coach Rafferty meant something.”

Dr. Hutchinson said he is well aware of the movement and support like Turner’s for the former football coach.

“When I hear all the great things and testimonies about Coach Raff and his staff, that’s a wonderful thing to hear,” said Hutchinson. “That means a lot to us that it was a great experience for many of his former players and parents. But you can’t connect that with discussing the issue with people.”

Hutchinson said that Longley and Scuzzarella met with the captains and their parents, as well as all the players (in small groups) who requested a meeting.

One concern about the “new” football coach is that many people feel that the application process will be a farce and the new coach has “unofficially” been hired.

“That’s not true,” said Hutchinson. “I think people saw that we opened the position internally, but we’ve done it externally as well. We will have a process in place to vet the candidates. There will be community and parent representation. In the end, the athletic director and principal will do final interviews, and the high school principal will make the final decision.”

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