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Scarborough wrestling boosters vote out president

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Posted: Thursday, April 4, 2013 4:00 am | Updated: 1:36 pm, Sat Apr 6, 2013.

SCARBOROUGH – Four days after calling a press conference to demand the dismissal of Scarborough’s high school wrestling coach, booster president Kim Kinsman was herself dismissed March 29, by club members who said she misappropriated funds to pay her lawyer.

Kinsman paid attorney Dan Warren, of Scarborough firm Jones & Warren, $5,363 between Feb. 11 and March 26. Kinsman approached Warren after she was rebuffed by school officials after initially bringing to them allegations of misconduct by the high school coach. 

Booster members at Friday’s annual meeting demanded Warren repay that money, saying Kinsman acted out a “personal vendetta” that was “built on lies” against coach Shane Stephenson. She solicited his advice without consulting any member of the group, they said, and paid him without obtaining executive board approval to spend more than $500, as required by the group’s by-laws.

Kinsman argues that she had to act out of concern for the safety of the wrestlers on the team, who she said were put in danger by the actions detailed in her allegations.

More than 50 parents and other interested residents attended the annual meeting of the Scarborough Schools Wrestling Booster Club Friday evening – reportedly a record turnout since the group’s 2000 founding – which made for standing room only in the police department classroom where the gathering was held.

On Monday, Warren called the meeting “unruly, out of control and unsettling.” Attendees were clearly agitated following Kinsman’s public comments earlier in the week and turned on Warren from the moment he attempted to start the meeting, challenging even his right to sit at the head table.  

“You’re not our lawyer, you’re her lawyer,” shouted pee-wee coach Michael Arangio, pointing to Kinsman, when Warren introduced himself as the club’s attorney.

Kinsman has said she felt empowered to pursue concerns about Stephenson only after the surprise Feb. 1 resignation of high school Principal Dean Auriemma, with whom she felt Stephenson had a close bond. 

Ten days later, Kinsman approached Warren, citing five key policy violations amid a host of other allegations. Among these, Kinsman claimed, Stephenson allowed team members to travel to an away meet without adult supervision other than a bus driver, allowed them to drive to another meet in their personal vehicles, and let a sixth-grader act as team manager – all violations of school policy. Kinsman said Stephenson further violated rules of the Maine Principals’ Association, which oversees most high school athletic contests, by making at least three wrestlers, including her own son, “wrestle up” two or more weight classes, and that he let them participate in at least one meet unsupervised. She also said proper protocols were not followed related to a concussion suffered by one of the wrestlers.

‘Full investigation’

Warren helped Kinsman prepare a series of 19 affidavits sent to Athletic Director Michael LeGage on Feb. 14. On Feb. 19, the school department’s attorney, Melissa Hewey, advised Warren the school had “looked into the allegations” and “taken whatever action, if any, it felt is warranted under the circumstances.”

According to Stephenson, his attorney objected to those affidavits. Although Warren says “only two very minor” statements were altered, a new series of 22 affidavits was prepared on March 5 and submitted to the school board. A March 14 letter from school board Chairwoman Christine Massengill denied Kinsman’s request to meet with the board and echoed Hewey’s letter, saying, “The administration has looked into the information you have provided and has taken whatever action, if any, is warranted.”

Superintendent George Entwistle said March 25 that a “full investigation” was made into Kinsman’s claims “in conjunction with the Maine Principals’ Association.” 

This week, the MPA clarified its role in the investigation.

“The MPA was not directly involved in any investigation,” said the MPA’s executive director, Dick Durost. “MPA staff members were contacted by the Scarborough administration who asked for clarification and interpretation of MPA policy.”

According to MPA Assistant Executive Director Gerald Durgin, the MPA only retains a record of the “alpha weigh-ins” for each wrestler taken during preseason, not weights measured at each meet. Moreover, during the regular season, he said, the MPA is provided with full team results only, not records from individual contests.  

“If a kid didn’t meet the weigh-in requirements that day, he or she wouldn’t be allowed to wrestle,” said Durgin. “Weigh-ins are done by officials at all meets, so there are checks and balances right there. And, if a coach was not there, or someone authorized by the school, the kids would not be at the meet.”

Regardless, no one at the boosters’ annual meeting seemed to share Kinsman’s belief that Stephenson broke any rules, or that the administration was covering for him.

“I know none of those terrible things happened,” said Janice Cyr, elected Friday as the new booster vice president.

“What the school said, I’m satisfied with that,” said the group’s former vice president, Ellen O’Keefe.

“Oh, I’m totally satisfied with that,” said Cyr. “And I’m here to tell you this about Mike LeGage, the athletic director – the man is a rule follower. I have all the faith that if anything was amiss, Mike would have been on it.

“Even if I didn’t know Shane to be a kind, generous and wonderful man in all respects – giving, giving, giving – if Mike tells me it’s been looked at and we’re good, I’m OK with that,” said Cyr.

Kinsman said that before going to the school board, she refused a meeting with LeGage when he wanted to include Stephenson, focusing her attention instead on the school board and other administrators. 

“I couldn’t even get a meeting,” she said, explaining the need to go public.

Officer issues

Kinsman was faulted at the annual meeting for saying at the press conference that there were only two officers on the booster board, listing just herself and Ted Sutton, who resigned as treasurer Jan. 2 but later agreed to help with the group’s books through Friday’s meeting. Both Sutton and O’Keefe – the latter seemingly surprised to have been overlooked – said Kinsman did not advise them of her issues with Stephenson or her intent to hire Warren until after the fact.

Warren said the group is no longer a formal corporation, having failed to keep up on the proper paperwork. He also called into question the legality of the vote at Friday’s meeting, saying that the people who voted did not properly identify themselves, as is usually required by such groups, and was by the boosters under the by-laws his firm drafted. He also said Kinsman was allowed to act by herself to address the problems she saw because they constituted emergencies by endangering the health of the students involved.

A great deal of time was given at the annual meeting to $9,000 Kinsman took from the booster account in the form of a cashier’s check made out to the group’s “mat fund.” That money was placed in a safe-deposit box, she said, out of fear the school department would freeze the boosters’ account once it got word of her campaign against Stephenson.

“I didn’t trust the school, bottom line, because I had already hired an attorney,” said Kinsman. “I didn’t have confidence in the school system to cover the cost that I was trying to do to protect our kids.”

The $9,000 was eventually returned to the booster account, although most at the meeting held the view of Garret Champlin, who said, “Even if the money was returned, it was misappropriated.”

Apart for the election of an entirely new officers’ group, the balance of Friday’s annual meeting was given over to demands that Warren return the funds Kinsman paid him. 

Warren said he is still advising Kinsman, who will “decide later this week” on how to proceed. At a minimum, he said, the school department should answer each policy violation she has cited individually, stating publicly whether each did or did not happen, rather than relying on a blanket assurance that issues were dealt with, “if” they happened.

Meanwhile, new president John Stolz said after the meeting that “it’s really too soon” to say if the boosters will file suit against either Kinsman or Warren to regain the lost funds. Instead, he echoed the words of Stephenson, who said in an exhausted tone, “I’m ready to just get back to wrestling.”

And, it may be, that there is a silver lining in all the recent hullabaloo.

“Absolutely,” said Cyr. “It’s true, this year, there was no activity. But, like I said to our new treasurer [Ben Holbrook], do you realize, you’re coming in on a new wave of enthusiasm that’s just the coolest thing ever?”

Welcome to the discussion.

4 comments:

  • Ted Sutton posted at 10:16 am on Fri, Apr 5, 2013.

    Ted Sutton Posts: 1

    FYI ... I am the REAL Ted Sutton, Past Treasurer of the SWB. To show you how low and dirty this whole thing has become, someone (tsutt23) is pretending to be me. As most of you know, I resigned from the board on Jan. 2, 2013. Other then presenting the YE Financial Reports at the Annual Meeting last Friday, I have not commented once on this entire issue. The fact that someone has to pretend to be me in order to get their point across is really sad!

    Edited by staff.

     
  • Not Swayed posted at 6:14 am on Fri, Apr 5, 2013.

    Not Swayed Posts: 4

    Misappropriation of funds means the intentional, illegal use of the funds of another person for one's own use or other unauthorized purpose. It can be by a public official, a trustee of a trust, an executor or administrator of a dead person's estate or by any person with a responsibility to care for and protect another's assets. It is a punishable offense.

    For example, in Connecticut, an attorney who knowingly misappropriates a client's funds or other property held in trust will be disbarred. [Conn. Practice Book § 2-47A]. A claim for misappropriation of funds is subject to statute of limitations. When a claim is brought against the alleged thief of the goods, the statute runs from the time of the theft even if the property owner was unaware of the theft at the time that it occurred. [Ruso v. Morrison, 695 F. Supp. 2d 33 (D.N.Y. 2010)]

    The following are examples of case law on misappropriation of funds:

    Misappropriation of funds is a serious offense involving moral turpitude. [Morales v. State Bar, 44 Cal. 3d 1037 (Cal. 1988)]

    Misappropriation of funds by an attorney is an act infected with deceit and dishonesty and ordinarily will result in disbarment in the absence of compelling extenuating circumstances justifying a lesser sanction.[Atty. Griev. Comm'n v. Weiss, 389 Md. 531 (Md. 2005)]

     
  • JCyr posted at 9:55 pm on Thu, Apr 4, 2013.

    JCyr Posts: 1

    A Statement from the current Officers of the Scarborough Schools Wrestling Boosters (SSWB), John Stolz, Janice Cyr, Bernie Freedman, Ben Holbrook:

    A few additional facts and one point of clarification on this story: A review of the bank records show that the $9,000 cashier’s check was not made out to the “mat fund” as reported, but rather it reads: " Pay to the order of Kim Kinsman”.

    It is odd that Mr. Warren, who boasts of 30+years of experience with non-profit groups and who also said that he had the current SSWB By-laws (which require board approval for expenditures greater than $500), never bothered to advise Mrs. Kinsman to seek the approval of the only other active board member, Ellen O’Keefe (VP), before taking the Booster Club’s money. Or did he? It is also odd that when Mrs. Kinsman made her allegations – one of which included a situation supposedly involving Ms. O’Keefe’s own son—she never bothered to ask Ms. O’Keefe for her input.

    Both Mr. Warren and Mrs. Kinsman state that they had the right to disregard booster By-laws because the kids were in imminent danger. Not even time for a 5-minute phone call to Ms. O’Keefe for approval? Really? Imminent danger? Half of the allegations supposedly happened over a year ago, so why then, didn’t Mrs. Kinsman act at that time? No action for over a year ….but she couldn’t even take time for a 5 minute phone call now, before the unauthorized spending of more than half of the total SSWB bank roll.

    In a letter dated 3/14 Mr. Warren said that after Mrs. Kinsman came to him “I conducted my investigation, talking with people I felt it helpful to talk with by phone or in person, and reported back to the Boosters…” How can it be that an attorney of over 30 years decided NOT to get input from the only other current booster officer as a part of his “investigation”? Stating that he reported back to “boosters” with his findings is also puzzling since Ms. O’Keefe, SSWB Vice President was never notified of anything. In fact, when Ms. O’Keefe first learned of Mr. Warren’s involvement, she wrote a letter to him on 3/19 making clear that Mrs. Kinsman did NOT represent SSWB. While it was not known at that time that Mrs. Kinsman had accessed booster funds, Ms. O’Keefe did request full financial records. To date Mr. Warren has not bothered to reply directly to Ms. O’Keefe’.

    If the details are unclear, there is one true fact: Scarborough Schools Wrestling Booster Club, as a club and according to its By-laws, DID NOT retain Mr. Warren’s services. Mr. Warren is in receipt of funds paid to him by someone who had no authority to do so. Therefore we believe that Mr. Warren should return the $5,363.31 to the SSWB immediately. Any issues of payment for services rendered should be between Mr. Warren and his client, Mrs. Kinsman.
    WHILE MR WARREN IS MAKING $300 PER HOUR...THE WRESTLING BOOSTERS MAKE THEIR MONEY ONE HOT DOG AT A TIME. This money belongs to the kids.

     
  • Not Swayed posted at 6:31 am on Thu, Apr 4, 2013.

    Not Swayed Posts: 4

    Warren has clearly not comprehended the boosters current bylaws...
    Debunking the election, because he "feels" they did not follow his firm's draft? How petty. And pretty despicable that this article would give such a lame comment any merit.

    "Warren said the group is no longer a formal corporation, having failed to keep up on the proper paperwork. He also called into question the legality of the vote at Friday’s meeting, saying that the people who voted did not properly identify themselves, as is usually required by such groups, and was by the boosters under the by-laws his firm drafted."