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The Boston Herald


Nearly 100 students and parents met outside the Cathedral High School gymnasium yesterday to protest the firing of athletic director and boys basketball coach Larry Merritt.

Chanting "We Want Merritt," the students channeled their anger toward headmaster Oscar Santos, who fired Merritt after a complaint was lodged against him. The official reason was a violation of school policy, though Merritt said he has not been told what policy he violated.

Later yesterday afternoon, the school released a statement. While not going into specifics, the school said it was not just one isolated incident.

"The Cathedral High School Athletic Director was terminated on March 23 after a thorough investigation into multiple incidents violating the school's code of conduct," the statement said. "The behavior involved is unacceptable at Cathedral High School by any member of our community. A month-long investigation was conducted involving various students, faculty and parents; this is not the result of one complaint or any factors outside these code of conduct violations.

"As this is a personnel issue, additional details of the incidents cannot be released."

Merritt, a three-sport standout who graduated from Cathedral in 1991, is extremely popular with many of the students. Caley Moon, who played for Merritt this year, said the coach is much more than an X's and O's guy.

"He's been like a father figure and a big brother at the same time," Moon said. "He gives everyone tough love, but he's always been truthful. He just wants the best for every one of us."

Merritt's ouster was just one of the concerns raised by the students during the 30-minute protest. Several were angered by a lack of diversity in the faculty, while others questioned how the school's finances were being used.

But the basic message the students hoped to send to Santos was that they wanted Merritt back in the building immediately.

"There is a difference between that building and this building," said junior Amani Boston, motioning to the school on her left and the gym on her right. "The gym is an escape, a therapy of sorts for us. (Merritt) is always there for us and we just don't know why he isn't here anymore. They said he violated policy, but won't tell us what."

The students were briefly locked out of the school, before Santos came to the front door. He invited the students and parents in to discuss their complaints.

Santos refused to answer questions about Merritt, saying it was not the place to do that.

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SIGN OF SUPPORT: A Cathedral student displays a message backing recently fired athletic director Larry Merritt.
RALLY FOR LARRY: Cathedral students gather outside the school yesterday to protest the recent firing of athletic director and boys basketetball coach Larry Merritt.
staff photos by mark garfinkel
March 29, 2018


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