Friday, December 26, 2014

Kids pay the price when adults behave badly

From page A12 | February 16, 2014 |

Wow. Just when we thought we’d seen everything in Davis, a sordid tale of adults behaving badly has been unfolding for the past week. And who’s being hurt the most? Why, the kids, of course.

The first victim was Emma Peterson, who lost the chance to play her senior season in the sport she loves. And the next victims are prospective members of the Davis High School boys volleyball team, whose tryouts were canceled at the 11th hour and whose season is now in jeopardy.

And it’s all because adults in positions of power and influence can’t seem to get along.

IN THIS CORNER, we have a school board member who has waged a relentless campaign to oust Julie Crawford as boys and girls volleyball coach. Trustee Nancy Peterson has lodged a litany of complaints with district administrators about the coach’s alleged indiscretions and she’s participated in votes concerning Crawford’s status, despite the fact that she has (or had) children on the teams. Finally, Peterson had the good sense to recuse herself Thursday morning from deliberations on the coach’s fate.

And in this corner, we have a coach who has plenty of vocal supporters but who took the unwise step of cutting her chief critic’s daughter — a varsity player since her sophomore year — from the team roster last fall. Dr. Rob Peterson, Nancy’s husband, filed a formal complaint, and a school district investigation found that Crawford indeed had retaliated against Nancy by leaving her daughter off the team roster.

Plenty of Davis parents gripe about their children being cut from sports teams or about coaches making decisions not to their liking. Do those complaints advance very far? Not usually. But in this case, the complaints were coming from a Davis school board member, and that is key to this entire brouhaha: School district administrators paid attention to Peterson because she’s their boss.

BUT IT’S NOT just Peterson and Crawford who are to blame. It takes more than a couple of people to create a mess this big.

Take district administrators: While they did investigate Peterson’s concerns about Crawford’s coaching decisions — and concluded that policies were violated — they did nothing with that information for more than two months. Meanwhile, the DHS athletic director and principal were making plans to rehire Crawford for the spring season, and the coach was hosting open-gym practices in preparation.

Were Davis High site administrators not made aware of the investigation and its findings? Was Crawford not told that an investigator found she “did not display the core ethical values of trustworthiness, respect and responsibility” set forth in the school’s handbook for coaches?

And lastly, the buck stops with the Board of Education. This is the second public go-round regarding Crawford’s coaching future, and she’s just one of several such controversies at the high school over the past four years. The board needs to clearly define the decision-making hierarchy concerning athletics, and stick to it.

FOLLOWING THURSDAY’S three-hour closed session, board President Gina Daleiden encouraged the warring parties to “come together to find a reasonable resolution that is in the best interest of the students and the school district.”

We’re not sure that’s possible at this point, but we can always hope. Remember, the kids are the ones who are being hurt.



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