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School board decision ignites fireworks

By From page A1 | March 21, 2014

Friday morning’s meeting of the Davis school was brief, but fiery:

* The board voted to rehire Davis High volleyball coach Julie Crawford;

* Former school board trustee Nancy Peterson excoriated the board for rehiring Crawford on Friday after just voting last week to uphold an earlier administrative decision not to offer the coach a variable services agreement for this season’s boys volleyball; and

* The board also voted on a consent agenda item that included the resignation of DHS athletic director Dennis Foster.

Peterson, who resigned on March 6, spoke during public comment at the beginning of the meeting. She began by quoting school board policy in regards to employees who permit or engage in retaliation. A parent complaint against volleyball coach Crawford was brought by Peterson’s husband, and involved the couple’s daughter. Nancy Peterson then expressed dismay at statements made after last week’s school board upheld (on a 3-1 vote) the administrative decision not to renew Crawford, and ruled against Crawford’s appeal of that decision.

Peterson said: “I wonder why members of this governance body, including the superintendent, have been issuing statements lately that speak to harming a student in order to retaliate against a parent as just a simple mistake. Let’s just forget it happened and move on.

“To summarize, just last week, the Board of Education voted to uphold the findings of the administration regarding a parent complaint about an employee and within four days the same administration is putting that same employee forward to coach the very team in which the findings occurred. Four days … is this an example of restorative justice?

“If so, some might be wondering about the student and what Mr. (Winfred) Roberson has done to ‘heal the harm’ done to the student involved. Nothing, is my answer. Here we all are seven months after the complaint was filed, and he has never even spoken to the student, neither has any other administrator (principal or athletic director), or trustee. In fact, the coach never even bothered to speak to her player of three years.”

Peterson then zeroed in on comments made last week by school board president Gina Daleiden, who voted against upholding the administrative decision not to renew Crawford as volleyball coach. Looking at Daleiden, Peterson said “since your biggest issue seemed to be why this wasn’t ‘handled’ before setting a ‘Code 3′ in motion. Here is my answer … that would have required someone from the district or even Davis High School to speak to the student. And that I can assure you never happened.”

Turning to the superintendent, Peterson said: “Mr. Roberson … you are busy appeasing your employee, the student that was harmed has been left to wonder why those in charge and entrusted with the well-being of the students, the Davis High principal and the full-time athletic director never tried to help or protect her. What did she do wrong?

“So much for the ‘student-centered decisions’ you are always touting,” Peterson said.

Peterson then referenced school board policy, state education code, and CIF athletic regulations relating to retaliation, saying, “Prohibiting retaliation would appear to be important, critical.”

And she mentioned the mid-season decision by the school board in the case of DHS girls basketball coach Jeff Christian, who Peterson said, “removed two players from his team and was fired for that.”

Peterson suggested that the difference between the school board’s decision to fire Christian several years ago and Friday’s decision was because “Coach Christian wasn’t a teacher and therefore the Davis Teachers Association wasn’t backing him with all their political power, and the school board didn’t really have to worry about the impact of alienating them.”

Peterson concluded by stating: “Students and the school community should be the priorities and not the political prowess of a union out to preserve members regardless of their activities. I am left to wonder if families feel safe now. How many will dare bring their concerns to this administration or this board?”

The school board has a longstanding practice of not responding directly to public comment. So the meeting continued, and the school board approved most of the items on the consent agenda, including a certificated personnel report (on the consent agenda) that contained a new variable services agreement for Crawford, who was hired as girls varsity volleyball coach at Davis High, with a $4,289 stipend. The certificated personnel report also listed the resignations of two school district administrators: DHS athletic director Dennis Foster and King High Principal Jeff Rogers. There were no comments by the trustees or others in attendance on those two resignations; Foster was not present. It was not immediately clear whether Foster’s resignation was related in any way to the Peterson complaint, Crawford’s appeal of the decision in that complaint, or the school board’s decision to rehire Crawford.

Daleiden, vice president Tim Taylor and trustee Susan Lovenburg participated in Friday morning’s meetings; trustee Sheila Allen was absent. Roberson said there will be an item on the agenda for the April 7 school board meeting to discuss the process of filling Peterson’s seat.

Jeff Hudson

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