Sunday, January 25, 2015

Bob Dunning: Volleyball investigation cost us $22,041


From page A2 | February 19, 2014 |

MONEY TO BURN … like any journalist worth his salt, I was curious as to what our current vicious volleyball vortex, now officially known as V-Gate, was costing the taxpayers of this fine city … so Monday afternoon, near the end of our three-day weekend, I fired off a friendly email to the superintendent of schools that read in part: “I’d like to request a full accounting of the cost of the Sperry report concerning the Julie Crawford/volleyball situation. Put simply, how much did this investigation and report cost the district?” …

The superintendent’s reply was prompt and direct … he said he had forwarded my request to the appropriate department and an answer would be forthcoming pronto … not long after, someone in the DJUSD business services office sent me an email that said: “Pursuant to your request from the superintendent, I am sending you the following information on his behalf: Total dollar amount of investigation and report concerning the Julie Crawford volleyball situation: $6,075.” …

Now, I don’t practice law, but I did attend a few classes at the UC Davis School of Law, and it’s my understanding that it would be hard to get anyone in the legal profession to even type a 72-page report for $6,000, no less do the research required to produce it … so, smelling a billable-hours rat, I tried a different approach and fired off yet another friendly email stating I was “looking for something a bit more detailed” in terms of hours worked, hourly rates and other relevant facts …

I was about to give up when I received yet another email from the business services office admitting that “Based on our research for your request, we have found that the information we gave you previously was incomplete. This is an updated and complete accounting record of the investigation.” … and here, fellow taxpayers, is where you’d better pour yourself a nice tall beverage and take a seat in your favorite chair …

Sadly, the $6,000 figure is woefully short of the actual cost … the new total for this investigation and report that will remain forever under lock and key is $22,041 … yes, over three times as much as the previous accounting came up with … turns out there were 99.4 hours billed at rates varying from $250 an hour down to $180 an hour … I knew I was in the wrong profession …

EVEN MORE MONEY TO BURN … given that we have public school teachers using their own money to pay for basic classroom supplies, just imagine how far $22,000 would go if it were spent on something worthwhile … conservative estimates are that $22,000 could supply every first-grader in Davis with shiny new crayons and two graham crackers apiece until the turn of the century … we, the taxpayers, have not been well served by this free-spending fiasco …

PARCEL THIS … if every parental complaint about a teacher or coach in the Davis Joint Unified School District results in a $22,000 investigation, we’ll need another parcel tax just to pay our legal bills …

MAD AS HELL … a Blue Devil coach tells me that after processing the mess that is V-Gate, “It became clear to me that the DHS coaches need to unite. Regardless of which side of the issue we are on, it most certainly impacts the entire coaching staff. Heck, we could be fired due to long practices, names on the back of sweatshirts that graze the buttocks, and clearly, if we happen to cut a board member’s or administrator’s child.” …

To that end, this coach contacted fellow coaches with an email that said in part: “It appears that we as coaches are susceptible to unfair scrutiny when it comes to dealing with the school board and district officials. Regardless of which side of this issue you are on, no coach should be treated like this even once, let alone two times. I honestly believe that any of us could one day be in the same situation as Julie.

“If we happen to cut a board member’s or administrator’s child from a roster, reduce their playing time, change their position on the ladder, practice too long on a given day, or heaven forbid, place names on the lower portion of the back of a team sweatshirt, we, too, may be fired. I have yet to read these stipulations in the coach’s handbook.” …

This coach goes on to say, “Our job as coaches is to form competitive and cohesive teams while nurturing and mentoring our student athletes. Cutting players is not fun, yet we have standards that we set each year for our programs. It’s a privilege to play on a varsity team at DHS, not a right. If we have to keep a player based on parental status, then we have jeopardized the integrity of our program.

“We were hired because the interviewing panel, athletic director and the school board thought we were the best choices to coach our specific sports. It appears we have lost control of that right. Our tough decisions that we make every day for our athletes may no longer be ours to make. This is not fair to us, our programs, and most importantly, our athletes.” …

The coach suggests that others in the profession show up at Thursday’s 7 p.m. school board meeting … just a wild guess, but I suspect it will be standing-room-only …

— Reach Bob Dunning at





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