Thursday, April 17, 2014

Bob Dunning: Tune in to ‘As the Volleyball Turns’


From page A2 | February 18, 2014 | 22 Comments

VOLLEY THIS … wow, it used to be we gained worldwide fame from things like Village Homes and the occasional quirky decisions of the Davis City Council … but now our fame seems to stem more from such diverse negative events as pepper-spraying college students and the incessant coaching carousel at Davis High School … the City of All Things Right and Relevant has suddenly become the City of All Things Wrong and Ridiculous, with the emphasis on “ridiculous” … it’s a regular soap opera, lacking only a title, but there are some strong candidates, including “As the Volleyball Turns,” “All My Volleyballers,” “Davis of Our Lives,” “The Young and the Reckless,” “The Misguiding Light,” “One Life to Spike” and “Peterson Place.” …

YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK … after spending untold thousands of public dollars to hire private attorney Alex Sperry to investigate our vicious volleyball vortex and file a 72-page “confidential report,” the district sent a summary of the report to Rob Peterson, who had filed a formal complaint after his daughter, Emma, was cut from the Davis High School volleyball team … apparently, as a complainant, Peterson has a right to some sort of response from the district, while those of us who paid for the report remain in the dark about its contents …

In a letter to Peterson outlining Sperry’s findings and conclusions, Assistant Superintendent Matt Best writes: “As you know, this investigation involves students and staff and it includes confidential information. Moreover, because of the various claims of retaliation and the desire to avoid further claims of retaliation, the district requests that all parties refrain from disclosing or discussing this letter with staff, students or members of the public.” …

Well, Peterson delivered the letter to The Davis Enterprise, perhaps because the findings and conclusions are highly critical of volleyball coach Julie Crawford … my questions to the district are these: how’s your request for confidentiality working out now? … And when are you going to let the rest of us in on the secrets you were willing to share with Rob Peterson? … we, after all, paid dearly for this 72-page report …

And finally, is every complaint to the district handled in this fashion? … if one of us in the bleacher seats files a complaint, will the district hire a high-priced attorney to file another 72-page report? … do we really have endless dollars to spend on this sort of nonsense? …

CONCLUSIVE OR INCONCLUSIVE? … in Best’s letter to Peterson outlining the “investigator’s factual conclusion,” he states that “After weighing the information provided, the undersigned finds by a preponderance of the evidence that Coach Crawford’s decision to cut Emma Peterson from the DHS girls’ volleyball program was influenced, in part, by her personal feelings about Nancy Peterson.” … two things here … first, the investigator, Sperry, cites the “preponderance” of the evidence and also reasons that Crawford cut Emma Peterson “in part” because she didn’t like Nancy Peterson … sounds more like an opinion to me than a factual conclusion …

WAIT, IT GETS EVEN STRANGER … so last Friday the district hired a new “interim” volleyball coach in the person of Auburn resident Rob Cole … seemed like a big break for Cole, who immediately set about trying to put the boys volleyball program back on an even keel … however, after serving for all of six hours in his new position, Cole was informed that the district had decided to go in another direction … speaking of the district, Cole said, “It’s obvious that the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing.” … I’d say the “preponderance of the evidence” supports Cole’s conclusion …

STRANGE AND STRANGER … after short-circuiting Cole’s coaching career, the district instead hired Crawford’s assistants, Ron Duer and Jordan Friend, to run the boys volleyball team on an interim basis … Duer told The Enterprise: “Jordan Friend and I are co-interim coaches until Julie gets her job back,” which puts them directly at odds with the district, which just relieved Julie Crawford of her coaching duties … a more prudent course during this rocky time might have been for the district to hire interim coaches who don’t have a dog in this fight, despite the experience that Duer and Friend bring to the table …

— Reach Bob Dunning at


Discussion | 22 comments

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  • Fred HarveyFebruary 18, 2014 - 7:16 am

    Based upon the public disclosures of the antics and bizarre judgement calls of the Davis School Board and its esteemed school administration, it would only follow that they all join Crawford on the bench. The expressed mentalities of the board and administration clearly indicates that they should not be in charge of something as important as schoolchildrens' educations. And where are the puffed up educated citizens of Davis sporting all of those doctorates in all of this? How come there have not been calls for impeachment of the board?

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  • OBDFebruary 18, 2014 - 2:23 pm

    Impeachment, yes! But regarding doctorates ... Nancy Peterson has one of those ... I'd prefer common sense to help diminish the Housewives of Davis behaviour.

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  • MLCFebruary 19, 2014 - 9:04 am

    Very sad situation. As a former DHS alum and outside observer my take on the situation is that the coach is clearly not the problem. Don't know anyone involved personally but definitely agree with the Housewives of Davis characterization. A $22,000 tab to look into why a board member's daughter was cut from the volleyball team is clearly an abuse of power and an ego trip. Disgusting!

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  • DHS Alum embarrased as heckFebruary 18, 2014 - 9:33 am

    Davis needs two High Schools with full athletic and music programs (OK, maybe one combined football team). How many talented musicians, singers, athletic students, do not have an opportunity to play, because there are only 1-2 slots for someone with their particular talent. It turns into a mob scene to get on to teams or placed in madrigals, etc. Parents who donate money or time expect that their children will get on the teams, leaving out talented kids with fewer resources. Two Varsity sports teams, two Jazz Bands, Two madrigal choirs.... Imagine.

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  • RobertFebruary 18, 2014 - 1:33 pm

    Children of parents who donate time and money DO get on the teams...Just ask Dan Ariola, Kevin Keefer, and Bob Creely....they all operate this way. Talent, ability, and dedication are irrelevant. If your name is at the top of the boosters plaque, your kid is in. If not, you kid is a "free-rider" (a term used freely by the three aforementioned coaches).

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  • Mike HenleFebruary 18, 2014 - 8:58 pm

    I know Dan Ariola, personally and his record speaks for itself! His program has produced two Section Titles and a number of League Championships. Dan runs a very strong and respectful baseball program at Davis High, it's one of the best in the area! If you have any guts on blasting someone, have some guts on posting your last name!

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  • Mike HenleFebruary 18, 2014 - 9:09 pm

    Coach Dan Ariola, is one of the best coaches in the area and the best baseball coach Davis High has ever had! He's a former Blue Devil who loves winning and his record speaks for it's self. Coach Ariola evaluates his players by talent, desire and good attitude first and only! That's why his program is one of the best in the area. GO BIG BLUE!

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  • Rich RifkinFebruary 18, 2014 - 10:41 pm

    Dan wasn't just a great baseball player for Davis High (Class of 1980). He was also an excellent basketball player. And an all-around great person. I'm not sure if anyone still calls him this, but Dan's nickname in basketball was "Ernie D." He won that moniker because he had to wear a type of protective athletic eyeglasses in basketball which made him look like the youngest boy on My Three Sons, Ernie Douglas.

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  • Marc KennerFebruary 18, 2014 - 9:37 am

    Bob, good article. You left out that the short term (6 hour)head coach is a member of the volleyball club that the petersons children play for in the summer. Seem strange?

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  • CBCFebruary 18, 2014 - 10:36 am

    I'm not advocating for either party. I don't understand how supposedly intelligent people can place themselves in harms way. It seems every move made against Crawford has backfired. Unless rectified quickly we're national news as helicopter parenting gone a muck. This has been a chess match from the start and checkmate has now been achieved.

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  • February 18, 2014 - 11:33 am

    Just an fyi about cole starting to right the ship. In his 6 hrs of employ he visited with the athletic office where he watched the athletic secretary finalize the uniform order that she and the AD had been working on prior to cole showing up. So he did not complete the order as he indicated. Then he took a walking tour of the high school....then left. I work at the school and witnessed these actions. These actions are are far less then the claim cole has laid about getting the program on track. Mr. Cole.....we have enough fuel on the fire please don't add anymore. Mr. Dunning maybe you should also ask people involved what actually occurred instead of taking things at face value.

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  • February 18, 2014 - 2:30 pm

    As usual, you won't get honesty from the people involved.

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  • February 18, 2014 - 3:09 pm

    If a picture is worth a thousand words, videotape must be worth much more. The Blue Devil HUBEXTRA had a nice article 5 days ago, with 4 video clips from a recent school board meeting. It is amazing to see so many young students up so early in support of their coach. Pretty amazing, and encouraging. One parent called the recent decision an "ambush", while Mr. Peterson essentially thinks the community's outrage is retaliation.

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  • The ObserverFebruary 18, 2014 - 3:14 pm

    I have a dream, that someday we parents will rise up and ALL realize that public schools exist as an employment agency and job protector for people with education degrees, and no longer as a place to benefit children.

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  • OBDFebruary 18, 2014 - 5:19 pm

    DJUSD UPDATE: The 72-page dossier coming in at a revised $22,000 and change. Cha-ching! Nice work, if you can get it. This doesn't include all the time, money and effort trying to right the ship that should have been steered correctly from the outset.

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  • Puddin TaneFebruary 18, 2014 - 9:01 pm

    I like how the district paid $22,000 for this investigation into volleyball. Let's repeat that: the school district paid $22,000 for an investigation to see if a volleyball player (who happens to be the daughter of a school board member) was cut for inappropriate reasons. One player, from one team. This is at a time when teachers are asking for much needed pay raises and the schools are trying to upgrade their equipment...and the district paid $22,000 to investigate a cut volleyball player. Doesn't anyone else think that this blatant waste is the most inappropriate part of this story?

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  • Puddin TaneFebruary 18, 2014 - 9:02 pm

    Check the Vanguard for that figure

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  • Dan WalkerFebruary 18, 2014 - 10:18 pm

    Not enough discussion here about the kids losses along the way.

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  • Napoleon Pig IVFebruary 19, 2014 - 12:18 am

    Much ado about nothing, I say. It is clearly the right of school boards to overpay hack lawyers to investigate things that can easily be addressed with honesty, intelligence, and most of all transparency. We mere citizens mustn't infringe this right of the privileged and their pet legal minions or we might not find anybody willing to become public servants. What a grim possibility! As for overpaid school district administrators, why should they have to listen to lowly parents and taxpayers, especially when they are not in lock-step agreement with said administrators? Through the parental bums out of the room! After all, if the administrators were not really, really good at their jobs, they wouldn't be paid so much. Have a little respect, folks!

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  • February 19, 2014 - 9:40 am

    Bob, can you find out how many other investigations have occurred in the DJUSD system and what their costs were? I think that would be very interesting to compare this case to others and find out if this case got "special treatment".

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  • simonssays11February 19, 2014 - 8:59 pm

    Attorney's...yuck...They will milk you dry. I'd check the linkage and arm's length of this investigation..What evidence exists to support conclusions that simply seem to be subjective. What hard facts were supplied within the documents? Whom did this attorney interview besides the Peterson Family?

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  • February 19, 2014 - 9:42 am

    After finding out how the school district wastes our money by conducting $22,000 investigations I think from now on it will be "MORE LIKELY THAN NOT" that a new school parcel tax will ever get approved.

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