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Bob Dunning

Bob Dunning: An articulate voice for wary teachers

By From page A2 | March 13, 2014

WORDS OF WISDOM … the latest Hero of the Week is Davis High School teacher Kelly Wilkerson, who had the fortitude to speak forthrightly and courageously to the sitting members of the Davis school board last Thursday … Wilkerson spoke of the frustration so many teachers and coaches in the district are feeling at this moment … her words were heartfelt and right on the money …

For those who missed it, Wilkerson said that while she doesn’t know Julie Crawford well, “I had hoped and trusted that the site administrative staff — larger now than it’s ever been — would look into any allegations and make a swift and definitive ruling so that our school and the students involved could move on.” … the site administrators, in the persons of the DHS athletic director and the DHS principal, approved keeping Crawford as coach … that should have been the end of it … it was the district that decided to pull her contract …

Added Wilkerson: “What I never expected was the long and confusing odyssey that has transpired over the past several months. I know (the trustees) have heard from hundreds of people. I’m here tonight because I want you to know how this has affected the teachers you employ.” … one can only imagine how difficult the district’s actions have been for them …

“We are confused. And we are wary. We don’t understand the process that’s been used. We don’t understand why a private personnel matter has become so very public. And we really don’t understand the sudden, confusing turn last week when the coach was asked to hire a mediator to resolve this dispute herself.” … a jaw-dropping turn of events, to say the least …

Concluded Wilkerson: “We wonder, is this the new normal? What if a parent lodges a complaint against us? Should we expect an ad hoc response that changes weekly?” … take a bow, Kelly … you put words to what many of your colleagues were feeling …

SPEAKING OF MEDIATION … given that the district’s $22,000 outside investigator concluded that “coach Crawford and Nancy Peterson have had a contentious relationship for the last couple of years as a result of Ms. Peterson’s critique of coach Crawford’s coaching decisions and attempt to remove her as the DHS volleyball head coach,” shouldn’t the school board’s 11th-hour call for mediation have been issued several years ago? … clearly, the board didn’t want to touch this radioactive issue and attempted instead to hand off its responsibilities to an outside mediator … tonight, it will have no choice but to finally make a decision and hopefully put an end to this much-too-long drama …

EVEN MORE OPINIONS … we knew when the board announced it would hear Julie Crawford’s appeal in closed session tonight that both sides would ramp up their public relations campaigns … thus the letter to the editor the other day from a parent who claimed coach Crawford required her son to still “attend” volleyball practice even though illness prevented him from actual physical participation …

I can understand how that might sound heavy-handed to a concerned parent, but unless a kid is contagious or home in bed and unable even to attend class, most coaches I know at the high school and collegiate level expect attendance at all practices … it’s all about being part of the team … depending on the sport, practice is generally 75 percent mental anyway — focusing on strategy and technique and maybe watching film — and only about 25 percent physical …

I know in my own limited athletic experience that several times I was injured and unable to do anything but sit and listen, but it never occurred to me to miss practice … the same for my teammates … high school varsity sports are no longer Little League, where an 8-year-old will miss a whole week of practice and several games so he can go to Disneyland … going out for the high school varsity is optional … practice isn’t …

SPEAK NOW OR FOREVER HOLD YOUR PEACE … for weeks now we’ve heard not a peep from any board member about the incredible number of dollars spent on an outside investigation that should have been settled in-house by administrators already on staff … allegedly, this is because they have been advised not to talk about any aspect of the case — even the cost — before this thing is done and gone …

Well, tonight’s the night … once the Board makes its decision, I’ll be waiting for board members to look directly into the eyes of those district staff members who approved this expenditure and say, “This was not a proper use of our precious resources.” … I’ll be surprised if we hear any such admonition …

— Reach Bob Dunning at [email protected]

Bob Dunning

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