Roughly 200 students from Andover (Mass.) High School walked out of classes on Tuesday in protest of the firing of hockey coach Chris Kuchar, and others.
It was announced Monday that Kuchar will not return for the 2019-20 hockey season, despite the program’s recent success. "I'm devastated," he told The Eagle-Tribune, "This is over petty politics. This is not about the kids because if it was, I'd be back for another season."
The students originally intended to show their support by gathering around the flagpole in front of the school, but relocated to the nearby Lincoln Circle after reporters covering the event were asked to leave school property.
A statement from the Andover Public Schools director of communications said the school respects the students’ right to voice concerns, and explained that the decision not to renew the coach’s contract was made by the high school principal and not the superintendent.
"[The superintendent] was not involved in this decision, and as a matter of practice, the superintendent is not involved in the matters of hiring coaches or renewal of their contracts," the statement reads.
Students who spoke with the media recounted several other coaches who were suspended or terminated in the past without the reasoning being widely shared. Some of the allegations against the coaches were later dropped.
"This has already happened three, four, multiple times," senior hockey player Matthew Schuhwerk told The Eagle-Tribune. "We don't understand why it keeps happening. They're coaches that take time out of their lives."
Schuhwerk's teammate and senior classmate Alex Weinreb added, "We want to make sure everyone knows this administration is not doing their job right. They keep firing coaches, letting them go for no reason. They still haven't even given us a reason why."
"We're not going to be here next year, but we know this is about much more than us," said Nick Germano, another senior hockey player. "He means so much to us, we want to make sure he gets the respect he deserves."