Plymouth North baseball coach Dwayne Follette, whose job is on the line, denied allegations Thursday that he was involved with underage drinking at a June cookout with his baseball team.
Follette would not comment further on the school’s investigation that stemmed from an anonymous letter sent to the school. The letter claimed the coach and parents saw players drinking, allowed it, and might have been drinking with them.
Plymouth Police had also been pursuing the allegations, though Chief Michael E. Botieri said there was not enough evidence to move forward with charges against Follette and the coach had been cleared by the police, for now.
"The people we’ve talked to, we have nothing to move on," Botieri said. "We have people making allegations to the school, but no one willing to step up. So at this point, we’ve concluded our investigations. It’s still open, any time someone wants to come forward right now, they can."
Pam Myette, mother of John Myette, a senior on the baseball team this spring, had hosted the cookout for the team after Division 2 state title game on June 16, in which Plymouth North lost, 5-0, to South Hadley.
Myette said the letter was filed to the school in an apparent attempt to single out Follette, even though there were two other Plymouth North full-time staff members also at the party.
"They are not being interrogated, so something is not right," she said. "Whether someone has a gripe against Dwayne, we're not sure. But you don't fire someone based on an anonymous letter."
The school released a statement announcing the internal investigation, which includes a series of interviews before the district determines the appropriate course of action for Follette, who has also been the football coach the last two years.
And though Botieri said there have been multiple allegations that have gone through the school, nothing has been filed directly to the police.
"We’re getting a lot of, ‘I talked to a person who said this,’ but that’s all we have," he said. "We can’t substantiate that because no one is willing to say they saw something."
Botieri said everyone he has heard from directly has stepped forward in support of Follette.
“I’d say 99 percent of the players’ parents were present at the party, and we’ve all signed a petition which states there was no impropriety on Dwayne’s behalf that night,” Myette said.
“We saw no alcohol consumption by the kids and we provided no alcohol for them to consume. If they obtained alcohol, which we’re not sure who may or may not have, they were going in the woods and drinking. And Dwayne was certainly not aware.”
Matt Walsh, Follette’s nephew who graduated from Plymouth North in 2011 and a former baseball player, said Follette “has never done anything like that before.”
Walsh started a Facebook page in support of his uncle, which had nearly 700 members as of Thursday afternoon. There were also more than 900 confirmed members attending a rally for the coach at the high school at 6 p.m. on Friday.
"He has brought so much tradition to everyone at North," Walsh said. "I still feel part of North and I'm in in college. But if he is no longer the coach, I will lose the love and feel like there is no tradition."
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