HEBRON – Some RHAM high school parents are outraged because they say bullying complaints against a popular coach are false.
But the school district, which includes students in Hebron, Andover and Marlborough, held a special meeting to discuss the allegations anyway Tuesday night.
Most parents said they were in disbelief that the board of education would give so much attention to anonymous complaints, but the board said they were taking them seriously because they contained a threat of litigation.
The meeting’s public comment centered on coach and teacher Tim Guernsey.
“I’ve had him for seven varsity seasons and I’ve never once seen an instance of bullying, verbal harassment, anything,” said Sarah Veilleux, a RHAM senior and volleyball player.
The coach came under fire in a series of anonymous letters written to the board, claiming he bullied students. The group who wrote the letters called themselves “parents and concerned taxpayers.”
They accuse Guernsey of berating his students and pushing them too hard. But every single one of the dozens of parents and students speaking publicly Tuesday night said the complaints are bogus.
Some parents and players admitted that Guernsey is a tough coach, but all of them said he’s never come close to bullying. Conversely, they said he’s changed them for the better.
Missie Carlson, a RHAM parent, said she didn’t know why someone would accuse the coach of bullying.
“I have no idea but the fact that all this credence is being given to anonymous letters is disgusting,” she said.
Guernsey, who is fresh off a state title on Saturday as girl’s volleyball coach, was not seen at the meeting, but support for the coach was simply overwhelming.
But Superintendent Robert Siminski says three things are important to consider: the threat of a lawsuit in the letters, the privacy concerns of students named in the letters and the board honoring the established bullying policy by reviewing all accusations.
“When you look at where the investigation is going, it’s not going to the coach, it’s going to these things,” he said.
The district has hired counsel to investigate the allegations.