Wednesday, July 23, 2014

School board prepares to hear appeal in volleyball dispute

From page A1 | March 09, 2014 |

The Davis school board is preparing for a special meeting Thursday evening, when the trustees will go into closed session to consider Davis High School volleyball coach Julie Crawford’s appeal of an administrative decision not to renew her contract this season.

The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. at the school district office, 526 B St.

The dispute, which has stirred up considerable community discussion in recent weeks, stems from a contentious relationship over several years between Crawford and parent Nancy Peterson and her husband Rob Peterson. The Petersons have two children who have who played volleyball under Crawford.

“The last couple of weeks have been extremely challenging for all of us who care about our schools, our community and our kids,” school board president Gina Daleiden said after a recent board meeting.

In an interview Friday with The Enterprise, Daleiden elaborated on what is to come.

“The board will review the complaint process and the details that have unfolded around it,” she explained. “Our objective in this appeal process is to assure fairness and due process for all.”

She also recapped the board’s role in the process thus far: “A formal complaint was filed at the district. Complaints, and investigations of complaints, are handled administratively on a case-by-case basis. The board is not involved in the administrative procedure” as complaints are investigated.

“The school board enters the process if, and when, there is an appeal,” Daleiden continued. Trustees Sheila Allen, Tim Taylor, Susan Lovenburg and Daleiden all voted to hear Crawford’s appeal. (Nancy Peterson, who has since resigned her seat on the board, recused herself from that vote since it involved a member of her family.)

“Once the board decides to hear the appeal, the board them become a quasi-judicial board, and must maintain impartiality,” Daleiden said. “This is why we (as trustees) cannot comment on the substance of the complaint or the handling of the complaint, including the investigation of the complaint, until after March 13″ when the appeal is heard in closed session.

“After March 13, the board will be released from the strict impartiality requirement, and we can express opinions on the whole process,” she said.

“As with any closed session, there will be an opportunity for public comment (at the outset), prior to the board going into closed session,” Daleiden continued. “The appeal will be heard in closed session, in accordance with administrative regulation 1312.3.”

She said because the discussion of the complaint might involve district staff as well as other students, the confidentiality of a closed session is required.

Daleiden added that the discussion may be attended by the employee filing the appeal (in this case, Crawford), who has the right to bring legal counsel. The parent filing the original complaint (in this case, Rob Peterson) is not included in the closed session. A presentation of the appeal will be made, the board members can ask questions, and then they will deliberate.

“When a decision is reached,” Daleiden said, “it is reported to the employee appealing and to district staff. Then the school board president makes the appropriate Brown Act announcement of the decision in open session.”

The decision that is announced by the school board is final, at least as far as the school district is concerned. It is possible that one of the parties might choose to go to court to appeal the board’s decision.

This sort of appeal “is not something we do frequently, but we have done it before,” Daleiden said, adding that most often, appeals involve student discipline issues, such as expulsion.

Nancy Peterson was elected to the Davis school board in November 2012 and twice voted against hiring Crawford to coach both girls and boys volleyball. After Crawford cut daughter Emma Peterson from the team last summer, as she was entering her senior season, Rob Peterson filed a formal complaint, alleging that the move was an act of retaliation.

The Davis school district hired an attorney to investigate the complaint and prepare a report at a cost of $22,041. The investigator concluded that “coach Crawford’s decision to cut (the Petersons’ daughter) from the girls volleyball program was influenced, in part, by her personal feelings about Nancy Peterson” but also added “at the same time (the investigator) does not find that coach Crawford acted with ‘willful mal-intent’ to harm (the Petersons’ daughter). … Rather, through no fault of her own, (the daughter) simply became a casualty of the ongoing ‘volleyball drama’ involving coach Crawford and Nancy Peterson.”

After the investigation was complete, the district informed Rob Peterson that “the district cannot reveal to you the specific disciplinary or corrective action taken with an employee. However, we can reassure you that the district intents to take appropriate action commensurate to the behavior and to prevent the discovered misconduct from happening again.”

Sometime in the closing weeks of 2013, administrators at Davis High — who had not handled the investigation of the complaint — forwarded Crawford’s variable services agreement extending her service as volleyball coach to the district office. However, district administrators did not forward that VSA to the school board for approval.

Interim coaches later were hired for the boys volleyball season.

— Reach Jeff Hudson at or 530-747-8055.







Discussion | 18 comments

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  • MLMarch 09, 2014 - 1:23 am

    But is it true that Coach Crawford had little to no input on this "investigation"? Were the 4 members of the volleyball selection committee interviewed? Did the report note the two outstanding Freshmen players who landed positions on the volleyball team, one who played outside hitter, like Emma Peterson?

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  • March 09, 2014 - 12:01 pm

    Yes, there were four people . Why not investigate all of them? Why only coach?

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  • March 10, 2014 - 4:58 pm

    Yes that is true, very little input, and the same went for the rest of the team.

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  • concernedMarch 09, 2014 - 3:56 pm

    i wonder how the other DHS coaches feel about their coaching positions? will they now need to consult w/ the school board before deciding on who makes their team? sounds like the city of Davis and their sch brd members need to learn a little reality and realize that not all the time does everyone get a ribbon.

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  • March 10, 2014 - 5:00 pm

    Yes the coaches are very concerned about the admin and board micro managing, especially since when the AD and principle do there job, they are told they can't and overridden

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  • ConcernedTooMarch 10, 2014 - 8:44 am

    I hope when the air clears that more about this situation isn't left to speculation... I'm really worried Davis is on a downward spiral and getting ready to crash, if it didn't already(?). Right now, as someone who's been out of Davis since High School, over a decade ago, it really seems like either this Peterson family is crazy or this volleyball coach does questionable stuff. I definitely was victim to a middle school basketball coach who stole $100 from me and a few other players, and parents were mad, but it was just $100 so nothing happened, that guy went on to keep coaching, not sure if he's in Davis anymore, but even as a student in Davis I did watch DJUSD employees steal money from the parents of students in a way that didn't cause enough "rage" for him to get into any real trouble for it. I'm conflating situations here, but, all the closed doorness of this situation makes this a perfect storm for speculation. (My best coach ever, who coached at emerson jr, was a Bob Knight guy, he had to make tough choices cutting people, and he didn't even know sometimes if he was right or wrong, but he was able to communicate the intricacies of his decisions to students, and those that wanted to be on the team and were cut, never felt they shouldn't keep working to make the team next year, but in this situation, it seems to me that the Peterson's daughter didn't feel like she had a chance in the future, which seems to me that something horribly petty took place on the part of this coach. I've noticed a lot of petty 30-40 somethings, who are relatively new to Davis too, which has me worried about Davis, eventually, being one of those communities who "Crash".

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  • MLMarch 10, 2014 - 10:04 am

    FYI, their daughter is a senior, so it wouldn't be possible for her to work hard to make the team next year. DHS is pretty large at 1400 students, and volleyball is one of 4 or 5 sports that is highly competitive. If someone wants to donate $50 Million to create a second high school campus so we can have 2 sets of sports teams, then maybe we'll make a few families feel better about expanded athletic opportunities.

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  • Rich RifkinMarch 10, 2014 - 10:15 am

    "DHS is pretty large at 1400 students." ........... There are actually 1,720 students at DHS this year. 10th grade: 578; 11th grade: 604; and 12th grade: 538.

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  • wdf1March 10, 2014 - 11:46 am

    Plus Da Vinci students, ~300 total, participate in DHS athletics.

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  • Davis ParentMarch 10, 2014 - 1:39 pm

    Plus all the 9th graders who are housed at the junior highs but are eligible for DHS athletic teams.

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  • March 10, 2014 - 2:52 pm

    So now our school board president is posting on Facebook about this! It is clear that she has her mind made up before looking at the report and is incapable of remaining impartial. Regardless of what side your on this is unprofessional, unethical and an embarrassment to our community. Her actions speak to a larger problem than just volleyball!

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  • March 10, 2014 - 4:57 pm

    Know your facts before you spout! Yes the board president posted on her FB page about this. She posted a copy of this Enterprise Article you are commenting on. Nothing more nothing less. In the words of Rob Peterson "Calm Down"

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  • Napoleon Pig IVMarch 10, 2014 - 7:50 pm

    Ah yes. Let's quote Rob Peterson, shall we? Such an objective voice of reason in this whole matter. Perhaps we should also nominate him for a role in resolving the Ukraine-Russian conflict?

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  • March 10, 2014 - 9:22 pm

    It was actually the PhD Nancy Peterson who told us to "Calm Down"! Let's be fair.

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  • Napoleon Pig IVMarch 10, 2014 - 4:11 pm

    The less transparency in this process the better. We can't have well-informed sheep, or they may imperil the dominance of us clearly superior and entitled pigs. Let the sheep bleat. They have short memories. Remember: Power to the pigs.

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  • March 10, 2014 - 6:01 pm

    What’s funny is that all those HS kids are looking forward to summer and dreaming about the rest of their lives, and many of the adults seem to be just stewing over the stupid V-Gate scandal. It’s time to get over it!

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  • March 10, 2014 - 7:15 pm

    Social media has already played too big a role in this saga. Daleiden should have known better than to post anything.

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  • March 10, 2014 - 9:24 pm

    Her voice / delivery has an odd tilt to it... which I can't descibe. Can someone pinpoint a description?

    Reply | Report abusive comment


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