Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Not move on, but move forward

From page A10 | March 23, 2014 |

I appreciate the difficult job the school board does, but the missteps in the past year make it painfully clear the board members have lost all perspective of their purpose and their boundaries. For what should now be obvious reasons, a board is not intended to micromanage the details of a school district. It isn’t an issue of who knows best; it’s an issue of what happens when parents know they have a back door through which they can run the district.

In this most recent case, one parent used her singular power as a board member to pull a coach’s VSA, force a vote in an attempt to override the district, participate in the vote(s) despite clear conflict of interest, and finally, use the dais to malign a standing coach and teacher. Through all of this, the board never issued a formal admonishment to their colleague, giving the impression of tacit board approval.
The cumulative effect of the board’s actions has been to send the message that the board can do (or be used to do) anything they see fit. The end result is a district run by special interests through the conduit of the school board, educators who no longer even try to run the district, and a town full of students who have been let down by the adults.

The board trustees would like the community to move on from this incident and I absolutely agree, but we’ve “been here, done this” many times before. The details change but the general scenario is déjà vu (GATE, AP program, DHS principal, coaches…). I suggest rather than move on, we move forward. The community (including school district personnel) has a choice to make: either step up and set clear boundaries for board authority, or live with these regularly repeated train wrecks and the outrageous parental behavior that accompanies them.

Wendy Amundsen

Letters to the Editor


Discussion | 33 comments

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  • March 22, 2014 - 1:44 pm

    The school board is the only legal authority to make final binding decisions. School personnel cannot tell the board what to do.

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  • March 23, 2014 - 11:01 am

    Although a Board member (Nancy Peterson) certainly instigated this latest mess, she was not the one who decided to stop the coach's appointment. That was done by the superintendent - after the high school administrators and athletic director had approved it. The Board never would have been faced with any of this had he not done that. Likewise the superintendent made a mess of all of those other issues you list, and the Board was put in the position of cleaning it up (not that some of those trustees did a great job of that). Again, the superintendent sets the tone and the Board is left to deal with the fallout of his ineptitude. Parents are speaking out because they have had enough of this mismanagement, not because they are trying to hijack the school district. Staff are doing the same but are understandably afraid of the fallout on their jobs - look at the revolving door of staff moving on to "other opportunities in the field of education".

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  • March 23, 2014 - 11:45 am

    That's one way of looking at things. On the other hand, the "latest mess" actually is what Coach Crawford did--retaliate against a student athlete to get even with Nancy Peterson's actions. Based on what we know of the investigation, there's little doubt that the superintendent took the right action in not hiring Coach Crawford (who had violated district policy). the coach shouldn't have appealed the decision since she had no reason to expect to be rehired; she knows what she did and what the investigation reveals about her actions. The school board did the right thing in voting not to support her appeal; they know what the investigation reveals about her actions. The "latest mess" now becomes community bewilderment about why this coach was rehired several days after the board acted to support the superintendent's original decision. Both sides have to wonder: 1. If her offense was so minor, why did the board support the superintendent's no-hire decision? 2. If her offense was so serious, why did the board support the superintendent's rehire decision? Weird, indeed.

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  • March 23, 2014 - 7:28 pm

    I think I should just agree to disagree with you on that last paragraph. I couldn't possibly feel more differently on almost every one of those points. The Board probably voted to uphold the appeal to justify the $22,000 the district wasted on a so-called "investigation". At least Gina had the courage to stand up and speak the truth. And if the district really did believe the coach had been retaliatory, why was the superintendent offering the coach her job back a few days later?? Probably because there really wasn't anything of that substance in that overpriced report at all. It is ludicrous that the coach isn't even allowed to see the report. How do you defend yourself when you don't even know what the allegation or so-called evidence is? The superintendent really jumped the shark on this one. Hopefully his resignation will be next.

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  • problem isMarch 23, 2014 - 9:18 pm

    False. There was no finding of Crawford having any intent to retaliate. Peterson is the instigator. Peterson is the harasser. Peterson is the retaliator. Peterson is the slanderer. Peterson abused her elected position to engage in an out of line unethical personal vendetta. Allen was the enabler. If Peterson is so right, and everyone is so wrong, then why did Peterson resign? Because Peterson is not the victim. Peterson is the perpetrator.

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  • March 23, 2014 - 10:06 pm

    Actually, the student-athlete is the victim. The two adults should have behaved better.

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  • March 23, 2014 - 10:17 pm

    Sorry, but we've yet to hear of anything or any fact that supports removing the coach. Indeed, we read about eight minor, silly complaints that were filed by Nancy Peterson which at best could be described as attempts at micromanagement, or which could be called harassment. Examples included butting into t-shirt design, transportation issues, and boys sitting on the girls bench during a game. All of these could have been handled with a simple question, not a formal, written complaint.

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  • March 23, 2014 - 11:40 pm

    These minor issues were handled as they came up. The major, formal complaint was filed after Coach Crawford dumped the senior player to retaliate against the school board member. That retaliation was involved was confirmed by the investigation which noted that the girl was just caught in the middle of the two feuding adults. Nancy Peterson no longer is a school board member. Ms. Crawford should no longer be a high school coach. Resignation is appropriate for both of them.

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  • March 24, 2014 - 9:37 am

    11:40 - With the constant missteps, bully tactics, and false allegations, most citizens are skeptical of what has happened behind closed doors to a two-time Coach of the Year. On top of this, California law, on two points, allows a public employee to review an allegation or report in their personnel file. Coach Crawford was never given this opportunity. This secret cloak and dagger sounds like a kangaroo court. We know that one board member saw no transgression, and lawyer / board member Tim Taylor backpedaled away from his vote before the ink was dry. It all smells to high hell.

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  • March 23, 2014 - 9:58 pm

    From Enterprise stories: The investigator concluded that “coach Crawford’s decision to cut (the Petersons’ daughter) from the girls volleyball program was influenced, in part, by her personal feelings about Nancy Peterson” but also added “at the same time (the investigator) does not find that coach Crawford acted with ‘willful mal-intent’ to harm (the Petersons’ daughter)..... He added that Crawford’s action was in violation of Board Policy 1312.1, which “prohibits retaliation against a complainant who brings an oral or written complaint against a district employee.” The findings went on to say that “Crawford did not display core ethical values of trustworthiness, respect and responsibility set forth in the Athletic Handbook for Coaches.”

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  • March 23, 2014 - 10:22 pm

    The school district is in violation of California labor law on two points in not allowing an employee to review their personnel file, and not allowing Coach Crawford to submit a written rebuttal.

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  • WendyMarch 22, 2014 - 5:21 pm

    You're correct that school personnel have no authority over our board, but they can make their voices heard. Otherwise, every issue turns into nothing more than a parental free-for-all with everyone fighting for the board's attention.

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  • March 22, 2014 - 8:08 pm

    The board sets the boundaries for the personnel. Staff reports and recommends, board makes decisions. More often than not, staff and board are aligned. Administrative staff works at the board's direction. They do not get to fight the board. The represented employees often share their opinions in with the board. The only issue I see here is that you disagree with the board's direction on your list.

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  • WendyMarch 22, 2014 - 8:26 pm

    Staff and board were not aligned on any of the issues I listed. And what I take exception to is not that I disagree with the board (I often also disagree with the district decisions), it's the train wrecks that accompany every discussion.

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  • March 22, 2014 - 11:39 pm

    Staff had thoughts on both sides. It appears when you say staff, it means vocal teachers who showed up at meetings that share your opinion. Your definition of train wreck appears to be any unpopular decision that not everyone agrees with that you don't like.

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  • March 23, 2014 - 11:05 am

    Agreed - I think you hit the nail on the head on Wendy's definition of a train wreck. Wendy has spelled out her viewpoints on these issues before. Perhaps her real frustration is that she wasn't able to push her personal agenda through the Board as she's alleging others have?

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  • Napoleon Pig IVMarch 23, 2014 - 11:47 am

    What have we here? Is this a pig in sheep's clothing seeking to sow seeds of discontent among the flock or a sheep in pig's clothing challenging the infallibility of our Great Leaders? Hard to tell. In the past, this writer has opposed high quality education for sheep by trying to get rid of GATE and AP classes, but now she criticizes those at the Pinnacle of Porcine Power and their loyal administrative lackeys for spending mere time and money to keep the sheep in line, in their place, and in the dark. We live in dangerous times, my comrades, made even more so by that irritating freedom of the press things. But stand strong, and remember: Power to the Pigs!

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  • Noreen MazelisMarch 23, 2014 - 1:52 pm

    The Davis School Board has all the credibility of the Malaysian government.

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  • March 23, 2014 - 2:02 pm

    Why, because they do not make every decision based upon who is loudest and persistent at the podium droning the same message over and over? Or is it that they did not ask each resident what they thought on every issue? Or that they did not break laws and policy and share private confidential information? Or they don't ask the local self appointed experts of the media what they should do? Or that they did not ask you personally?

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  • March 23, 2014 - 3:39 pm

    Or they just can't do what is right!

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  • Local CatMarch 23, 2014 - 4:07 pm

    Can't do what's right is right! Let's hope that at least three of the four remaining board members follow NP into the detritus of history. The only one who knows what's right is Gina. Time to elect her some respectable colleagues.

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  • ZabaMarch 23, 2014 - 6:15 pm

    The Davis School Board has all the credibility of the Malaysian government....... Fortunately, Noreen, much less power!...... Malaysian king backs court ban on non-Muslims using the word Allah......... http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-01-19/an-malaysian-king-backs-court-ban-on-non-muslims-using-the-word/5207502

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  • ZabaMarch 23, 2014 - 6:28 pm

    Fortunately, their power is much more limited...... Malaysian king backs court ban on non-Muslims using the word Allah..... (This news item is easy to google- above headline is from abc dot net dot au........as in down under and close to Malaysia.

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  • March 23, 2014 - 11:44 pm

    Everyone needs to step back and look at the bigger picture. Life is not perfect and there are no absolute right and wrongs in this; or demons and angels. There was no perfect solution, no missed opportunity that would resolved this situation in a simple manner. It unfortunately played out in manner that has created divisions and about who should have done what to whom at what times. It is done and over. It followed a process and it came to a final conclusion. There was no conspiracy, no personnel laws broken, no illegal votes. It is time to stop looking for scapegoats. Both sides are unhappy. Both sides are tired The players in the district just got caught in the middle and had no choice in being involved. It has played its course, game over. In the hundreds of things that happen everyday, this is getting way too much attention.

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  • MLMarch 24, 2014 - 9:57 am

    11:44, I have to disagree with you. An attorney has reviewed California labor laws, and agrees. State of California, Dept of Industrial Relations: "California law requires that employers allow employees and former employees access to their personnel files and records that relate to the employee’s performance or to any grievance concerning the employee. Labor Code Section 1198.5 Inspections must be allowed at reasonable times and intervals...The right to inspect personnel files and records does not apply to records relating to the investigation of a possible criminal offense..." Secondly, a lawyer stated that an investigation that will be used to reach an adverse employment action against a public employee must be made available for review.

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  • March 24, 2014 - 11:34 am

    Your mysterious lawyer is in involved in this case, but several were (on behalf of the district and Coach Crawford). In spite of what you speculate happened behind closed doors, I'm confident the district conducted the appeal in a legal manner. Since Coach Crawford lost, we would have heard from her or her attorney if any basic right was not provided her. The fact that one board member voted a different way doesn't mean that three got everything wrong. It just means you (as someone who knows almost nothing about the retaliation case) agree with the losing side.

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  • MLMarch 24, 2014 - 12:20 pm

    11:34 AM: We don't have to speculate, several sources have said that Coach Crawford wasn't able to read the so-called "investigation", only a summary of it. Even Mr. Dunning repeated this assertion, and there has been no denial of it. Considering how the Education Board allowed Nancy Peterson to abuse her power as a new board member in pulling a VSA, and doing it again two more times over trivial matters (as confirmed by Gina), no, many of us are not confident in how they have conducted themselves. On top of this, lawyer / board member Tim Taylor issued a mea culpa hours after his vote, and the coach is re-instated - early. So it looks like the board is acting due to political "factors", not facts. This move is probably an attempt at saving a great coach from leaving, calming the public, preventing a lawsuit, and trying to save the political career of Sheila Allen. So the essentially gave her a face-saving time out, and re-instated her. Yes, Coach Crawford has to weigh the cost / benefit analysis of a long legal fight, when what she really wants to do is continue her passion in which she has displayed expertise. Lastly, I know about the 8 silly complaints filed by Mrs. Peterson that some board members think approaches harassment, and the only way you might know more than me about this case ... is if you are Mrs. Peterson?

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  • Jeff SimonsMarch 24, 2014 - 12:21 pm

    As it turned out, I'm not sure it's correct to say that Crawford lost. She is not coaching the 2013-14 boy's team, but has been asked back and hired to begin coaching again in the fall. She has remained relatively silent throughout this controversy, and is not likely to sue or ask for further action now that things are (more or less) settled.

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  • March 24, 2014 - 2:37 pm

    There is no question that Coach Crawford lost her appeal. The school board agreed to hear it, studied all of the evidence and the coach's presentation and voted 3-1 not to uphold the appeal. However, you make an excellent point, Jeff, in questioning how much she really lost since she was rehired for next year. The school board obviously decided that Coach Crawford was guilty of retaliation, as outlined in the letter that described the investigation report. I agree with those who see a political reality in the decision-making. The board majority must have decided they couldn't overlook the facts of the case in spite of the public pressure to rehire her for this year's boy's season--although Gina Daleiden's approach would have been the easy way out for the board. What bothers me now is the amount of revisionist history is going on for what's now a done deal. It doesn't change the facts about the coach's judgement and how it negatively affected a DHS student life.

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  • MLMarch 24, 2014 - 2:53 pm

    2:37 PM, I hate to break it to you but getting cut from a high school sport is not the end of the world, especially if it is a large high school with a tradition of excellence in the sport. It is part of growing up, "life lessons". Work harder, work smarter, or find something you truly excel at, and use the lessons learned from previous battles. Probably over 100 students get cut from DHS sports every year, but they didn't bully their way through the system for 2 years. What "negatively affected a DHS student life" was her obsessed Mom, not a garden-variety high school occurrence. The court of public opinion has come down heavily on the side of the coach, and against the education board, administration, and the Petersons.

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  • MLMarch 24, 2014 - 2:59 pm

    P.S. Dr. Rob Peterson imploring that "this should have been taken care of last summer" at an education board meeting proves that this wasn't about a coach improperly cutting a player, and wasn't about one isolated incident. Its about entitlement, abuse of power, obsession, and a family unwilling to accept that several very talented young players joined the team and raised the water level. An olive branch was offered via a nice opportunity to coach at the junior high level, and still the couple would not let it go.

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  • March 24, 2014 - 3:26 pm

    Of course, athletes get cut. Cutting an player partly in order to get even with her mother (regardless of the mothers actions) 's not acceptable. That's where Coach Crawford went over the moral and policy line. The case under consideration started this school year, based on the coach's action.

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  • Napoleon Pig IVMarch 24, 2014 - 6:19 pm

    Don't forget Boxer's motto: "I will work harder, and Napoleon is always right." To translate that for modern sheep: Get your butts in gear, and remember that Pigs are never wrong. Remember: Power to the Pigs!

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