On May 26, The Harwood Unified Union School District (HUUSD) Board took another step to delay its investigation of the termination of former Harwood varsity boys’ hockey coach Jacob Grout. Specifically, the board voted to enter executive session with the HUUSD administration at a future meeting to further discuss the termination in hopes of assessing whether or not the board should continue the investigation at all. Depending on the outcome of its meeting with the administration, the board may cancel the investigation all together.
Here is the timeline of events leading up to this decision to delay the investigation: Grout was fired on February 17, 2021, after the HUUSD administration discovered that Grout had texted his players a message containing profanity and complaints about parent interference with coaching.
On April 28, 2021, the HUUSD Board decided to launch an investigation into the firing of Jacob Grout after 1,300 community members signed a petition urging the board to reinstate Grout, arguing that he had been wrongly terminated.
On May 12, the HUUSD administration, including every principal in the school district, presented a letter to the board urging it to cancel the investigation. The administration argued that the investigation was an unnecessary financial burden on taxpayers and that it would only undermine the community’s confidence in the administration. At this May 12 meeting, the board voted to reconsider pursuing the investigation at a future date.
Now, the board has determined that it must speak to the administration before it can make a final decision on whether or not to continue the investigation. The motion to enter executive session with the administration passed in a weighted vote of 54.85% to 34.70%, with seven board members voting in favor of entering executive session with the administration, five board members voting against it and one abstaining.
Board chair Torrey Smith, Duxbury, urged board members determined to carry out the investigation to vote no on the motion to join an executive session with the administration. “If you thought that even after hearing from the administration, even if you agreed with what they did, that you would probably still want to do an investigation, then we would actually just encourage you to vote no on this,” said Smith.
Theresa Membrino, Fayston, was one of the board members who voted no. “As I've said before, I voted for the investigation in order to really clear the air and to exonerate our administration,” said Membrino. “For the sake of transparency, I think it's important that we continue to do this investigation.”