Teacher resigns, leading to outcry

HUDSON – Tears flowed and accusations flew after a dismissal hearing was cut short Monday night when a popular Alvirne High School teacher resigned.

Rick Martineau, the forestry and natural sciences teacher and Future Farmers of America adviser, agreed to resign to the distress of about 60 people, many of them students and former students, who were at the hearing in support of him.

“If they heard how much good he’s done, there’s no way they could have let him resign, let alone gotten rid of him,” 2008 graduate Adam D’Entremont said.

It’s unclear exactly why Superintendent Randy Bell recommended the school board dismiss Martineau. But Patrick Weaver, who described Martineau as his second father, said Martineau took the blame when a student working at the site of the new Rodgers Memorial Library flipped over a skid steer in June.

Students in the forestry program helped clear trees off the Derry Street site before construction began.

Martineau tried to protect the student, Weaver said, and claimed to have been driving when the accident occurred.

Bell wouldn’t comment on what prompted the recommendation to dismiss Martineau. Martineau also declined to comment.

Dozens of people showed up for the 5 p.m. dismissal hearing and waited almost an hour while the school board, attorneys for the school district and Martineau shuttled back and forth from the meeting room at Town Hall to another room down the hall.

Finally, around 6 p.m., the school board’s attorney, Ed Lawson, said the issue had been settled and there would be no hearing. Martineau’s supporters learned about his resignation shortly thereafter and remained in the room for several minutes crying, hugging Martineau and, a few, hurling R-rated insults at the school board.

When the regular school board meeting began at 6:30 p.m., Chairman David Alukonis explained that the board had nothing to do with Martineau’s resignation or the negotiations that went on before the hearing.

“That matter was resolved without the school board,” Alukonis said. “The board does not know any of these issues because that’s how these matters are handled.”

He said the board isn’t allowed to know about the details of the dismissal hearing ahead of time but is supposed to act as a jury and rule whether to uphold Bell’s recommended firing only after hearing both sides.

The hearing being cut short before anyone in attendance had their say didn’t sit well with many. Even after leaving the meeting, most of the crowd gathered in the Town Hall parking lot talking in small groups and extolling Martineau’s virtues as a teacher and mentor.

“A lot of us are upset,” said Amanda O’Donaghue, a 2007 Alvirne graduate. “He is the perfect man to teach those classes. He’s the heart and soul of the FFA. He wasn’t really a teacher. He was a mentor.”

“We’re dealing with a man that cares about his students,” said Paula Longo, whose son, Robert, was in the high school forestry program until graduating in 2007.

“I just feel very sorry for students who won’t get the same opportunity I did,” Robert Longo said.

Jen Barton teaches in the forestry program at White Mountains Regional High School in Whitefield and lives in Jefferson. She made the five-hour roundtrip to Hudson on Monday night to support Martineau.

“People respect him and admire him. You don’t come across that every day. His students are his life,” Barton said. “For the school board not to hear what they just lost is really a mistake.”

Martineau declined to comment except to confirm that he had agreed to resign and that his students are his “life.”