High School Football

Report spells out recruiting allegations against Franklin High

LODI -- Representatives of Franklin High School in Stockton broke multiple rules in the illegal recruitment of football players from American Samoa, the Sac-Joaquin Section asserts in a 300-page report released Tuesday.

The full report, which includes a 100-page report and more than 200 pages of interview transcripts and photocopies of evidence, focuses on Franklin assistant coach Jeff Seumaala and his mother, Eleimanu Seumaala, who lives in American Samoa. The report says 14 students illegally transferred from all five public schools in American Samoa and found their way to Franklin. It says Eleimanu Seumaala spoke to most, if not all, of the players who transferred to Franklin.

Some of the allegations include:

* Associates of Franklin High football paid for parents and players to fly from American Samoa to Sacramento, where they were picked up by a Franklin assistant coach. The players were also flown home for Christmas and their parents were flown to Stockton to attend their sons’ graduations. All these plane tickets were paid for by associates of Franklin.

* The players were housed by Jeff Suemaala or his brother, Steve Seumaala. Four current Franklin players list Steve Seumaala’s home as their address, according to Franklin High School records. Steve Seumaala’s home is owned by Franklin head coach Tom Verner.

* A fax from American Samoa’s Department of Education states three players left the country for California in January 2006 and they “were not recruited by anyone.” The fax appears to clear the three students to play football for Franklin. But the fax came from the Human Resources department of the DOE, and the DOE head, Claire Poumele, said in an interview with CIF investigators that she was "fairly certain" it was not her signature on the fax.

Jeff Seumaala and Tom Verner’s interviews were included in the report; they deny all involvement.

In a 24-page fax to The Bee, Stockton Unified School District says the section has denied the school district its due process, the section used improper interviewing techniques, the section has prosecuted the district in the media, and section commissioner Pete Saco is not capable of acting as an impartial decision maker in this matter.

“We’re refuting all kinds of things in that report,” SUSD Superintendent Jack McLaughlin said. “There’s very little hard evidence. Our students are eligible.”

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