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Petition protests coach’s dismissal

A group of residents is protesting the dismissal of Kin Earle as the ski and golf coach at Concord-Carlisle High School, and has started an online petition calling for his rehiring that has picked up more than 300 signatures.

“We’re very disappointed with the news,” said Concord-Carlisle student Hank Yoder, 18, captain of the ski team.  “He was an inspiration to everyone.”

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Principal Peter Badalament said in an e-mail that he decided not to reappoint Earle, who had coached in the district for four years. Earle was named the Boston Globe’s Coach of the Year in boys’ Nordic skiing last season.  

“This is a personnel issue and, unfortunately, we cannot discuss the factors that led to this decision. Coaches are appointed on an annual basis, and in this case the coach was not reappointed,” Badalament wrote in a statement that he said he also sent to the school community.

“What we can say is that we made the decision that we feel is in the best interest of students moving forward. Student safety is always our priority.”

Badalament said a new coach, James Burnham, has been hired.

“This is a horrible miscarriage of justice,” said Dusty Johnstone, who was the high school’s cross-country ski coach before Earle began the job. “He’s an absolutely superb person, role model, mentor, leader, and the kids love him.”

School Committee member Phil Benincasa said Earle’s contract was not renewed early this month because he violated a school policy on out-of-state field trips when he took members of the golf team to New Hampshire in July. The School Committee was not involved in the decision, he said.

Earle said he was suspended on Nov. 26, and was told on Dec. 3 that he would no longer be coaching.

Earle disputes the reasons for losing the coaching positions, and says the administration has made a series of baseless accusations against him, beginning with falsely accusing him of allowing the boys to drink alcohol on the golfing trip. Earle said he had a single beer at dinner one night, but none of the students drank during the trip to New Hampshire.

Earle said the real reason is that some parents were upset at his choice of golf team captains.  

“The thing that bothers me the most — it’s been this process of throwing mud at me to see what will stick,” said Earle. “But nothing has stuck. But the preponderance of mud, after a while the person on the street is like, boy, that’s a lot of mud.”

On Nov. 29, Earle said, the high school’s athletic director told him that the reasons for his suspension had been investigated and cleared up, and that he could resume coaching. It came as a shock the next week, he said, when he was let go.

“It’s been pretty horrible for me, to have my integrity attacked,” said Earle. “For me, it’s not about me anymore. It’s really about this behavior of thinking you can just tell any story you want for your gain.”

Athletic director Barry Haley denied lifting the suspension, and declined to comment further.

Badalament said in an e-mail that “all I can add is that there is a good deal of misinformation out there.”

Students on the ski team said they will feel Earle’s absence this season.

Yoder said Earle’s coaching was what attracted many freshmen to join the team. “I just can’t believe that something like this has happened to such a good man,” Yoder said.

“I can’t tell you how well ­respected this guy is. As a role model, he was somebody you want around your kids,” said Pam Gardner, whose son is on the golf team.  “He goes beyond good guy. He is one of a kind.”

Evan Allen can be reached at evan.allen@globe.com.
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