Andrew John Palmer was terminated from his position as Barnum’s head girls basketball coach at a school board meeting Tuesday, Feb. 16, following accusations of sexual assault brought against him last month.
Palmer, 33, was arrested in Moose Lake on Jan. 19 and charged with three counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a 17-year-old person, over which he was in a position of authority.
According to the criminal complaint, Palmer began interacting with the victim over Snapchat last fall, and eventually invited the victim to his home on Jan. 1.
It was then that he first allegedly sexually assaulted the victim, with two more alleged sexual assaults taking place in the following 15 days.
A background check had been conducted prior to Palmer’s hire, but did not reveal anything of concern, superintendent Mike McNulty told the Pine Journal in a January interview.
Following his arrest, Palmer was placed on paid administrative leave pending further investigation.
While he was in his second year of coaching at Barnum, Palmer never taught within the district. The board voted unanimously during Tuesday’s meeting to terminate his position as coach, effective Jan. 22.
After some discussion of hiring processes, the board approved Mariah Minkkinen as interim head girls basketball coach, replacing Palmer.
Board member Beth Dinger voted against the hire.
Dinger voiced concern over lack of information provided about the candidates to the board, expressing that she did not feel comfortable hiring someone she knew nothing about.
“We have to respect our hiring committee and our administrators, but when we’ve so recently had issues it does feel like … at some point we have to say, ‘No, this isn’t how we’re going to do it,’” she said.
Other board members echoed the same concerns during discussion, but ultimately approved the hire.
The board also approved a settlement for a pending lawsuit asserting data practices and defamation claims, which was brought against the district in Feb. 2020.
McNulty plans to issue a public statement on the matter in the near future.