Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Board is abusing its power

When is the Davis community going to open its eyes to the Board of Education and its lack of transparency toward athletics and the abuse of power/conflict of interest to the sports that their kids play or their friends’ kids play? Do I need to mention softball, volleyball, football and golf? These are all sports where board members, both current and closely removed, have kids participating, and all have controversy or district money donated.

Board members should recuse themselves immediately with decisions regarding anything that their own kids are involved in. Stop micromanaging athletics; you are not a board of athletics.

Our district is lucky to have coaches who put in countless hours and effort for our kids. People are no longer lining up to coach here because of constant scrutiny from our board. Is it really a legitimate reason to fire a coach because you don’t like them, don’t agree with their coaching philosophy/style, or “a board member is not a fan”?

Coaches are set up for failure by our board daily. As a former DHS coach, I find the lack of clear protocol embarrassing. What the public doesn’t know is that the bit you hear regarding this “coaching issue” is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the dysfunction of how our coaches are being treated by our elected board across the district. Where are the checks and balances, or is it just the yearly board “self-evaluation” and our board just oversees themselves?

Coaching is a profession. Many people went to college to be coaches and take coaching classes. It’s not a coincidence that DHS teams win, and it isn’t all due to the talent of the athletes. We have excellent coaches who know what they are doing and are willing to put up with constant turmoil and uncertainty with regard to keeping their jobs.

Stop letting good people go. Veteran coaches are speaking up for good reasons. Pay attention, ask questions, demand transparency, ethics and integrity, defend the Blue Devil tradition and return it to what it once was, something we can all be proud of.

Leigh Whitmire Choate

Letters to the Editor


Discussion | 7 comments

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  • RickJuly 10, 2013 - 4:14 pm

    Well spoken Leigh !

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  • Mike Henle (Class of 1984)July 10, 2013 - 5:27 pm

    Good job Leigh! The school board has NO business in firing coaches for without a reason. For example, the firing of Julie Crawford, the DHS volleyball coach. Why was she fired from coaching just two months before the start of the season? It doesn't make sense to let a coach go that early to the start of the upcoming season. Coach Crawford had coached her team to the league championship and was named coach of the year. She also received a great evaluation from the Athletic Director. If she was doing a poor job, she should have been let go right after last season. It is obvious that coach Crawford was fired because of members on the school board wanted to abuse its power in removing her for some personal reason. Which is totally and completely unprofessional! If this doesn't stop, its going to continue and pretty soon, if not already, Davis High Athletics will have a reputation as being a Graveyard for coaches. This reputation will keep possible coaching hirers from wanting to apply at DHS in the near future. To all you OLD BLUE DEVILS, speak out!

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  • Cindy (class of 1986)July 11, 2013 - 10:10 am

    As a former Blue Devil, I am appalled at the lack of integrity, good judgement and support for high school athletics that our school board is showing. I am also discouraged that the Athletic Director, Dennis Foster seems to have felt bullied enough by the Board (wanted to keep his job) to let Coach Crawford go without "good" reason. He was quoted in the News 13 interview that a coach is let go when "they are not a good fit". With the amount of recent community support, this is clearly not the case with Coach Crawford. I can't believe this issue has gone as far as it has. I drove by the high school yesterday morning, and saw many teams out on the field, practicing for their fall season. Coach Crawford had scheduled the girls to condition all this month, but instead the girls received an email Sunday evening from Dennis Foster stating that since the girls' volleyball team does not have a coach, practice is cancelled until one is hired (end of July). Obviously, this puts the team at a distinct disadvantage over other teams that have already started their pre-season conditioning. Coach Crawford said she wasn't given a reason for her firing. It is difficult for us to understand the reasoning behind it as well when she has so much public support. It seems that no one can give Coach Crawford a valid reason for her firing because the real reason is that someone with the power to fire her just plain didn't like her. Every DHS athlete is required to sign a CIF Code of Conduct, that states the athlete "must act in accord with the following: trustworthiness, integrity, honesty, reliability, loyalty..." We expect this of our student athletes, should we not expect this of our elected leaders as well? We need leaders and role models for our children. Instead, the girls' volleyball team is learning first hand about petty politics, abuse of power and mean girl tactics. To those behind Coach Crawford's removal: Tell her why she was fired. We can then put this to rest, and the community can feel secure that the Board we elected is not guilty of such universal dysfunction.

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  • Ingrid SalimJuly 11, 2013 - 12:48 pm

    I agree with Ms. Whitmire: the Board's actions regarding hiring and firing seemed to have moved increasingly away from a high professional standard of integrity, where all stakeholders understand the expectations as well as when they are not met, and into murky personal agendas. These decisions are already resulting in a loss of credibility in our community. Although it is just supposition at this point, it would appear that decisions are being driven more by personal agendas affecting Board member's children, rather than high professional standards reflecting whether candidates have met their job descriptions, clear and communicative evaluations of their performance, and time to improve if they have not. Saying that someone is 'not a good fit,' is the traditional basis for discriminatory hiring practices and totally subjective. Whether a coach or any other district employee is a 'good fit' should depend only and solely on their qualifications and their job performance. Julie had both. I call on all of the members of Board to reevaluate their basis for making employee decisions, and commit to a process that is transparent and understood by all. Like others, I also call on Board members to recuse themselves from any district decision which involves their own children. Such a bias colors fairness and objectivity, and has no place informing a public servant's role in representing their constituents.

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  • ml1999July 11, 2013 - 1:26 pm

    A few randon points. 1) Go to the DHS volleyball website, and choose the "Document Vault" on the left hand pane. Open the "Expectations" Word document, which is 3 pages. I encourage readers here to save it to their local computer, as I can just see the "powers that be" removing it. The document reveals a passionate, organized, committed coach. Also of note is the biggest paragraph - dealing with Playing Time (PT)! Coach Crawford apparently had to create a '48 hour rule' regarding a parent talking to her about PT! (Unless this is now a standard practice for the Entitled Generation.) When I was a high school player, I would have been mortified if my parents spoke to my coach about PT. Work hard, prove yourself, and wait for your opportunity. 2) The DHS Atletic Handbook has as its no. one Goal this: "• A lifelong standard of good sportsmanship and citizenship" DHS appears to have violated it's own principles. On Page 7, it also states: "It should be noted that team selection and playing-time decisions are the sole rights of the coaches." 3) I find it interesting that DHS has an Athletic Director, and a Secretary for the AD, which seems like 2x overkill to me. My HS had no AD - the principal took care of administration. Yet the Blue Devils don't provide transportation to the volleyball team? 4) Is it time for the CIF to get involved?

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  • sports fanJuly 11, 2013 - 4:25 pm

    While I agree with most of what is said regarding conflict with board members, their children and personal interest issue...I find some points that need clarification. 1) the athletic department at Davis is the largest in the section with over 1400 student athletes, 27 different sports, More than 175 coaches.....all run by 1 AD and a part time secretary. 2) quotes that are generalized usually cover issues that legally can not be said in public....because yes it is a personnel matter. I wish that everyone involved would take a step back and take a breath....

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  • Olga SimonsJuly 11, 2013 - 9:26 pm

    It's hard to believe, that what Leigh is talking about , is really what's going on. But how else do you explain , that a Coach like Julie Crawford was let go? Everybody I talked to, is very upset about this. There are lot of responses in support of Coach Julie. Do our opinions matter at all? Is Davis going to be famous for another BAD thing? First it was "pepper spray " story all over news, now it's going to be this one? I really hope it's not going to be the case.

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