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Cape Cod

FAIRHAVEN — The new school year at Fairhaven High School started Tuesday without embattled Principal Jean M. Cote at the helm.
According to Superintendent of Schools Robert N. Baldwin, Mr. Cote has taken a medical leave beginning about two weeks ago.
“Mr. Cote will be out for an extended period of time to begin this school year,” Dr. Baldwin said.
There is no indication when Mr. Cote will return to work.
Dr. Baldwin said he could not comment further about the leave, saying it is a personnel issue.
Mr. Cote did not return a phone message seeking comment by Tuesday afternoon.
Mr. Cote became Fairhaven High principal in 2001. He had previously worked in the Wareham school system.
Meanwhile, Dr. Baldwin appointed retired Principal John Grondin as interim principal. He previously was principal at Bourne High School for 20 years.
Mr. Grondin started on the Fairhaven job Aug. 21. He will serve as interim principal until further notice, Dr. Baldwin said.
“We are extremely fortunate to have secured the services of such a distinguished individual to serve in the capacity of interim principal at Fairhaven High School,” Dr. Baldwin said. “Mr. Grondin’s experience, reputation and character will serve our students and staff well.”
Mr. Cote and other Fairhaven school administrators were criticized for the handling of a 2006 hazing incident at a private summer football camp on Cape Cod.
Kevin M. Gonsalves Jr., 18, and Dylan J. Parker, 18, both of Fairhaven, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor hazing and a reduced charge of felony assault and battery in Falmouth District Court last May in connection with the hazing.
Prosecutors said Mr. Gonsalves and Mr. Parker plotted and participated in a series of abusive and indecent assaults on another student. The three-day harassment culminated on the third night of the camp when the victim woke up with duct tape on his mouth and several teammates attempting to tape him to his bed, then throwing semen on him.
Before details become known in court, the apparent veil of secrecy during the 10 months after the hazing created furor in the community, with many saying that officials did not do enough to protect the victim or witnesses, and did not immediately discipline the students who assaulted him.
The students faced disciplinary action after criminal charges were brought, but not before the victim left the school system, along with at least one witness who felt intimidated.
Despite the criticism, at the end of the school year in June, the School Committee publicly praised the administration’s handling of the case.
Also at the end of the school year, Mr. Cote met for 20 minutes with students and apologized for not handling the situation better.
Contact Joao Ferreira
at jferreira@s-t.com

By Hank Nuwer

Journalist Hank Nuwer is the Alaska author of Hazing: Destroying Young Lives; Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His current book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press. He is married to Malgorzata Wroblewska Nuwer of Warsaw, Poland and Fairbanks, Alaska. Nuwer is a former columnist for the Greenville (Ohio)Early Bird and former managing editor of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner in Alaska.
Nuwer was named the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists columnist of the year in 2021 for his “After Darke” column in the Early Bird. He also won third place for the column in 2022 from the Indiana chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He and his wife Gosia, recently of Union City, Ind., have owned 20 acres in Alaska for many years. “The move is a sort-of coming home for us,” said Nuwer. As a journalist, he’s written about the Alaskan Iditarod sled-dog race and other Alaska topics. Read his musings in his blog at Real Alaska Daily--http://realalaskadaily.com and in his weekly column "Far from Randolph" in the Winchester Star-Gazette of Randolph County, Indiana.

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