Jun 6, 2011
Parent Who Punched Coach 5 Years Ago Wants Ban Lifted

ARLEE — An Arlee parent banned from attending school events since punching a basketball coach five years ago now says that he deserves a chance to rejoin the school community.

In 2007, the Arlee Board of Education barred Francis Pierre from stepping on school property to attend any Arlee school district events. They’ve enforced that decision over the last five years with only one exception: they allowed Pierre to attend his son’s graduation in 2009.

The board most recently upheld their decision in a March 2011 letter to Pierre stating that his request to have the ban lifted had again been denied.

“The board and superintendent ask that I inform you that they do not intend to overturn the prior board’s directive at this time, stated the letter from district clerk Lonnie Morin.

For Pierre, the board’s decision is a frustrating and, in his opinion, unfair one, all based on a one-time incident: an altercation between himself and then high school boys basketball coach Brandon Hobbs, at the district 8-B tournament in Libby.

Pierre said that Hobbs initiated the fight by shoving him as he was walked into the locker room to deliver a bag of clothing to his son, a basketball player. Pierre immediately punched the coach, a reaction he says was instinctive.

I thought it was necessary to defend myself and my son from coach Hobbs’ attack, Pierre said. He’s the one that attacked me and pushed me.”

According to a Leader article published immediately after the incident, Pierre was upset with Hobbs for not giving his son playing time and for his overall demeanor toward his son.

At the time, the coach denied any wrong-doing and told Leader reporter Ethan Smith that he was simply coaching as usual.

“I’m sure I was [animated]. I’m in the middle of a basketball game that’s going to end our season. I was just like I am in the middle of a huddle or on the court. I get excited, Hobbs told Smith. But there was nothing threatening said. I’ve never used threatening words to a kid.”

As a result of being punched, Hobbs fell back, gashed his head on a locker and had to receive two staples to the three-inch wound.Pierre was arrested that eveing for assault and disorderly conduct.

He was convicted in a Libby city court in September of 2007, but by March of 2008 was acquitted of all charges. It is in part due to that court decision that Pierre believes the board should reconsider his attendance ban. He said that he’s written the board three letters since his acquittal, but so far, to no avail.

The current school board and superintendent John Miller argue that the prior board did not actually issue their ban based on the criminal charges against Pierre.

“That original board based their decision on the information, not necessarily the legal information, but the information they received from people who testified about what happened, Miller said. General opinion was that the coach had been assaulted.”

The Arlee resident, however, disagrees and voiced his frustrations in a letter to the editor received by the Leader last week.

“I am shocked that the Arlee school board would base their most recent decision on hearsay, he wrote. I feel that it is a violation of my civil rights to do this to me like this. If you want to know the real truth read the court transcript.”

He emphasized that prior to his altercation with Hobbs he attended games and practices regularly and peacefully, despite feeling frustrated with the coach who, he claims, made racial slurs against his son earlier in the season.

“I never did anything before, Pierre stated. I was acquitted of the charges. I don’t see why they hold that against me.”

Pierre said his desire to have the decision reversed stems from wanting to support friends and family at the school. He added that he’d be open to taking legal action, but has had difficulty retaining a lawyer, in his belief, because no one wants to go up against the school.

As for going to a board meeting to plead his case?

“Can’t.” Pierre said. “I’m not allowed on school property.”

According to Miller, Pierre is welcome to write another letter, but the decision to lift the ban is entirely in the board’s hands. And at this point, Miller said, the board may not be ready to forgive and forget.

“There are still board members that have history with what happened, Miller said. It was a pretty violent assault.”

Parent Who Punched Coach 5 Years Ago Wants Ban Lifted

Lake County Leader, Lisa Broadt

http://leaderadvertiser.com/news/article_610d6b6c-8c82-11e0-aa00-001cc4c002e0.html

ARLEE — An Arlee parent banned from attending school events since punching a basketball coach five years ago now says that he deserves a chance to rejoin the school community.

In 2007, the Arlee Board of Education barred Francis Pierre from stepping on school property to attend any Arlee school district events. They’ve enforced that decision over the last five years with only one exception: they allowed Pierre to attend his son’s graduation in 2009.

The board most recently upheld their decision in a March 2011 letter to Pierre stating that his request to have the ban lifted had again been denied.

“The board and superintendent ask that I inform you that they do not intend to overturn the prior board’s directive at this time, stated the letter from district clerk Lonnie Morin.

For Pierre, the board’s decision is a frustrating and, in his opinion, unfair one, all based on a one-time incident: an altercation between himself and then high school boys basketball coach Brandon Hobbs, at the district 8-B tournament in Libby.

Pierre said that Hobbs initiated the fight by shoving him as he was walked into the locker room to deliver a bag of clothing to his son, a basketball player. Pierre immediately punched the coach, a reaction he says was instinctive.

I thought it was necessary to defend myself and my son from coach Hobbs’ attack, Pierre said. He’s the one that attacked me and pushed me.”

According to a Leader article published immediately after the incident, Pierre was upset with Hobbs for not giving his son playing time and for his overall demeanor toward his son.

At the time, the coach denied any wrong-doing and told Leader reporter Ethan Smith that he was simply coaching as usual.

“I’m sure I was [animated]. I’m in the middle of a basketball game that’s going to end our season. I was just like I am in the middle of a huddle or on the court. I get excited, Hobbs told Smith. But there was nothing threatening said. I’ve never used threatening words to a kid.”

As a result of being punched, Hobbs fell back, gashed his head on a locker and had to receive two staples to the three-inch wound.Pierre was arrested that eveing for assault and disorderly conduct.

He was convicted in a Libby city court in September of 2007, but by March of 2008 was acquitted of all charges. It is in part due to that court decision that Pierre believes the board should reconsider his attendance ban. He said that he’s written the board three letters since his acquittal, but so far, to no avail.

The current school board and superintendent John Miller argue that the prior board did not actually issue their ban based on the criminal charges against Pierre.

“That original board based their decision on the information, not necessarily the legal information, but the information they received from people who testified about what happened, Miller said. General opinion was that the coach had been assaulted.”

The Arlee resident, however, disagrees and voiced his frustrations in a letter to the editor received by the Leader last week.

“I am shocked that the Arlee school board would base their most recent decision on hearsay, he wrote. I feel that it is a violation of my civil rights to do this to me like this. If you want to know the real truth read the court transcript.”

He emphasized that prior to his altercation with Hobbs he attended games and practices regularly and peacefully, despite feeling frustrated with the coach who, he claims, made racial slurs against his son earlier in the season.

“I never did anything before, Pierre stated. I was acquitted of the charges. I don’t see why they hold that against me.”

Pierre said his desire to have the decision reversed stems from wanting to support friends and family at the school. He added that he’d be open to taking legal action, but has had difficulty retaining a lawyer, in his belief, because no one wants to go up against the school.

As for going to a board meeting to plead his case?

“Can’t.” Pierre said. “I’m not allowed on school property.”

According to Miller, Pierre is welcome to write another letter, but the decision to lift the ban is entirely in the board’s hands. And at this point, Miller said, the board may not be ready to forgive and forget.

“There are still board members that have history with what happened, Miller said. It was a pretty violent assault.”






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