The Edward Little High School gym was locked up Saturday afternoon while school officials work on a plan to allow student athletes to use the gym when coaches are not around. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

AUBURN — School officials are working on developing a fair and safe way to allow student athletes to use the Edward Little High School gym when coaches are not around, Superintendent Katy Grondin said Friday.

The issue of keys to the gym being given to certain parents came up at a recent School Committee meeting. Parent Mike Irish said he was concerned that kids were working out in the weight room without supervision or training. Someone could get injured, he said.

Others, including Mayor Jason Levesque, contacted school officials with safety concerns.

“The safety of our students is of great importance to our community,” he wrote in an email Friday, “hence my inquiry into key control practices.”

He said he wanted to make sure “standard operating procedures” were being followed.

“Keys were give to people we trust,” Grondin said Friday. “We obviously don’t want the community to think some have access that others don’t. We want to be fair and let everyone have the opportunity to use the gym.”


She said school officials understood why the keys were given out but also why people were concerned about keeping the building safe.

She said coaches could not be expected to be available all the time to work with student athletes who want to practice.

“Coaches do encourage kids to practice,” Grondin said. “We do well in basketball because kids are practicing when they want to practice, and they have a passion for a sport.”

Edward Little Principal Scott Annear has collected the keys he had given to four parents and it will be up to the School Committee to decide whether to allow the practice in the future, Grondin said.

She is working with Annear and Athletic Director Todd Sampson to prepare a procedure, as recommended by the district’s insurance company.

Protocols could include background checks, a signed agreement of understanding of the rules and responsibilities and a swipe-card key that could be tracked, Grondin said.


Or perhaps the high school would offer open gym time and a staff member would be paid a stipend to supervise the practices, she said.

“We will look at it from all angles, sit down with coaches and staff to talk about what makes the most sense, and go forward with a plan,” she said.

School Committee member Faith Fontaine said at a March 4 meeting that her husband was one of four key recipients “and not because I’m on the School Committee.”

She said there was “a lot of misconception in the community about who had keys and whether they were misused.”

Parents were given keys because students had been getting into the school building without permission, she said.

“My husband was there every night” last year when their daughter was a senior athlete, Fontaine said. “He made sure it was a safe environment. He monitored and supervised students.”

Grondin hopes to elicit a community dialogue about how to give access to student athletes who request it and keep them safe.

“We’ll get a procedure in place and then monitor that,” she said. “If we’re starting to have costs, then we are not going to allow them to use the gym.” 

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