Bob Dunning

Bob Dunning: Evidence doesn’t support coach’s removal

By From page A2 | March 12, 2014

Tomorrow night, if we’re all lucky, we’ll finally have some sort of decision from our esteemed school board in the case of Peterson v. Crawford, otherwise known as V-gate.
We’ll know once and for all if Julie Crawford will be reinstated as the Davis High School boys and girls volleyball coach for the foreseeable future or whether she’ll never again call herself a Blue Devil head coach.
Whatever the board decides presumably will put an end to this public embarrassment from a legal standpoint, but the repercussions will be with us for some time to come.
For the vast majority of Davisites who have never met either of the combatants and simply don’t have a dog in this fight, the issue isn’t so much who’s right and who’s wrong here, but how much money the cash-strapped Davis Joint Unified School District is willing to spend on the case of one volleyball player who did not make the team for her senior season, despite previously having been on the roster.
So far, we know the district initially spent $22,041 to have three outside lawyers put together a narrowly focused 72-page report on the case, but the tab in staff time and further legal advice certainly will push that total much higher.
School board members have been mum on the advisability of such an expenditure, claiming that legal counsel advises absolute “neutrality” until after tomorrow night’s closed-door hearing.
Which is nonsense. A school board member can certainly express disdain over wasted dollars and still decide objectively about the case itself.
After all, the time to stop wasteful or foolish spending is while it’s happening, not after the fact.
Be that as it may, my highly placed source, Deep Quote (third cousin of Deep Throat), tells me there’s not enough “meat” in that 72-page report to permanently banish Julie Crawford from the Davis High School gym.
In fact, the four-page summary of the report that was sent by the district to Nancy Peterson’s husband, Dr. Rob Peterson, refutes Rob Peterson’s claim that Julie Crawford had acted with “willful mal-intent” toward the Peterson’s daughter.
The key part of the summary notes that “The undersigned does not find that coach Crawford acted with ‘willful mal-intent’ to harm Emma Peterson, as Dr. Peterson’s written complaint alleged. Rather, through no fault of her own, Emma Peterson simply became a casualty of the ongoing ‘volleyball drama’ involving coach Crawford and Nancy Peterson.”
In other words, Julie Crawford was not “out to get” the Petersons’ daughter, who sadly was caught dead in the middle of this battle in the very definition of a “no-win” situation.
On the other hand, and in the Petersons’ favor, “The investigator found that, more likely than not, coach Crawford’s decision to cut Emma Peterson from the varsity volleyball team was influenced, at least in part, by coach Crawford’s feelings about Nancy Peterson.”
Note the qualifying phrases “more likely than not” and “at least in part” in that sentence. Even the investigator was hard-pressed to state definitively that retaliation had, indeed, taken place. In any regard, it’s hardly the smoking gun that would decide this thing once and for all.
The “volleyball drama” referenced in the summary began “as a result of Ms. (Nancy) Peterson’s critique of coach Crawford’s coaching decisions and attempts to remove her as DHS volleyball head coach.”
Now, when a sitting school board member (Nancy Peterson) tries to remove you from your coaching position — not once, but twice — it’s understandable that a young coach might harbor some negative feelings toward that individual.
Among the many complaints Nancy Peterson registered with the district administration over the years was that Julie Crawford “Allowed high school boys to sit on the bench and chat with players on the girls varsity team,” “Issued volleyball T-shirts that violated the school dress code,” “Restricted spectators at team practices” and “Sanctioned inappropriate postings on the DHS volleyball Facebook page, calling for ‘tall attractive men to join the most killer sport.’ ”
Sounds like Julie Crawford was hardly able to breathe without fear of being reported to the district administration, an administration that serves at the pleasure of the Davis school board.
Clearly, there’s plenty of blame to go around here, but there’s simply not enough evidence to remove Julie Crawford as the head coach of our highly successful boys and girls volleyball programs.

— Reach Bob Dunning at [email protected]

Bob Dunning

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