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HS Renames Gym After Claims of Sex Abuse

Jason Scott

An Alaska high school has decided to remove the name of a school superintendent and principal from its gymnasium after allegations of sexual abuse emerged.

The Chilkat Valley News of Haines, Alaska, reports that the Haines Borough school board voted unanimously to rename Karl Ward Gymnasium to Haines High School Gymnasium.

The move comes after six former students at the high school came forward to allege that Karl Ward, the former superintendent and principal at Haines High School, had sexually abused or made sexual advances toward them years ago.

“I certainly wouldn’t want any named facility within our school to represent something that hurts people,” board member Sara Chapell told the Valley News. “To hear that it hurt people that walked by the gym, it’s really terrible.”

Ward died in 1997, but his victims have been dealing with what they allege had been done to them for years.

One of the accusers was the deceased husband of the school’s principal, Rene Martin. Her husband, Rick Martin, committed suicide in March, leaving behind videos for his family, according to radio station KHNS.

It was in one of those videos that Rick alleged that Ward had raped him when he was a student at the high school in the 1970s.

In the week following Martin’s death, a sign outside the gym commemorating the facility in Ward’s honor had been taken down, though formal action to rename the facility had not yet taken place.

Following the vote by the school board, a plaque commemorating the facility in Ward’s name was removed.

Board members said that they wouldn’t rule out the possibility of re-dedicating the gymnasium to honor another individual in the future.

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