Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Side out: Time to look ahead

From page A12 | March 09, 2014 |

The issue: Peterson’s resignation should allow school officials to get back to business

Is it finally over? Even if Nancy Peterson’s resignation from the Davis school board isn’t the last word in the sorry case of dismissed volleyball coach Julie Crawford, it clears away many of the issues preventing a resolution.

PETERSON DID the right thing in stepping down. Her effectiveness as a public servant was compromised long past the point of no return, and it was in everyone’s best interest that she remove herself from the fray.

While attention has focused on Crawford cutting Peterson’s daughter from the Davis High girls volleyball team, with Peterson herself referring to her daughter as “the victim,” the truth is that this is a personal conflict between two grown women that goes back years. But the allegations of abuse of power and conflict of interest are now in the past. As administrators and school board members decide Crawford’s fate, they can do so secure in the knowledge that there won’t be a school trustee watching over their shoulders, looking for a particular outcome.

What is distressing about Peterson’s resignation statement to the board is her assertion that her actions should “set the tone for student and family engagement now and into the future.” While standing up for one’s child is a noble impulse, the level of micro-management and expense this case has generated could hardly be less productive, or worthy of emulation.

No sporting activity or school club can be run completely free of problems, but if the district gave this level of scrutiny to every allegation of misconduct, campus life would grind to a halt. And if the district spent $20,000 on outside lawyers to investigate every parent complaint, it soon would run out of money.

As it is, Davis is blessed with an abundance of helicopter parents, hovering over their children to protect them from every danger and inconvenience. Do we really want such parents to feel more empowered? How can kids develop into well-adjusted adults if they’re shielded from every disappointment? How can any coaches, or any teachers, feel secure if a single parental complaint can cost them their jobs? It is fortunate that not every aggrieved parent is on the school board.

THIS DISTASTEFUL saga, besides embarrassing the community, has consumed a disproportionate amount of the board’s attention. Soon, Peterson’s former colleagues can get back to the business of running our schools. Common Core, online testing, the $20 million facilities backlog and teacher compensation are all big issues that will need their full attention.

And there’s another lesson to be learned, this time by the administrators who sat on Crawford’s paperwork and ultimately passed the buck to an outside law firm that charges by the hour. We trust that in the future we can find a more efficient, less costly way to handle complaints in-house. The on-site administrators have the best perspective to deal with personnel issues, and should be able to handle problems without making a $20,000 mountain out of a molehill.



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