Wednesday, July 23, 2014

School board sets March 13 date for Crawford hearing


Julie Crawford, center, is joined by former Davis High School football coach Dave Whitmire for moral support at the Feb. 20 Davis Board of Education meeting. The board has granted Crawford an appeal of the school district's decision not to renew her variable services agreement to coach boys volleyball. Fred Gladdis/Enterprise photo

From page A1 | February 28, 2014 |

The Davis school board, meeting in closed session on Thursday evening, formally set March 13 as the date for hearing an appeal in the dispute over Davis High School’s volleyball coach.

At the same time, the trustees issued a blunt statement urging their colleague, Nancy Peterson, and the coach, Julie Crawford, to hire a mediator and settle their differences before the appeal is heard.

“The board has set the hearing date for the Crawford appeal of the Peterson complaint for March 13 in accordance with district policy on formal complaint/appeals,” board president Gina Daleiden said, reading from a prepared statement in open session.

“However, the board strongly and unanimously urges the parties to enter mediation to settle this conflict,” Daleiden read. “We want to state in the clearest terms that we want our district removed as the battlefield.

“The Davis Joint Unified School District needs our resources, our focus and our energy to move forward with educating our students. The board encourages the parties seek professional mediation on this matter so that there can be some healing in this painful process and so that the district can get back to the business of serving our kids.”

Daleiden made it clear that this “strong” recommendation reflected the views of trustees Sheila Allen, Susan Lovenburg, Tim Taylor and herself. (Peterson did not participate in the closed-session discussion, having recused herself.)

The disagreement is between Crawford and the Peterson family — Nancy, husband Rob and their teenage daughter, who played for Crawford at DHS for three years. Trustee Nancy Peterson voted against hiring Crawford as a coach twice  in the past, Crawford later cut the Petersons’ daughter from the team, the Petersons filed a formal complaint with the school district alleging that their daughter had been singled out for retribution and Crawford was not offered a contract (as a variable services agreement) for the current season.

The announcement that Crawford would not be coming back as coach — made only days before the season was to begin — sparked immediate reaction in the community, as well as considerable public comment at several school board meetings.

Crawford is appealing the Peterson family’s complaint. The appeal — if it is not settled before March 13 — will be heard in closed session, since it is a personnel matter.

Crawford remains employed as a physical education teacher at Davis High School. Her job is not at issue, only her coaching assignment.

In addition to the brouhaha over the Petersons’ daughter being dropped from the volleyball team and Crawford not being renewed as volleyball coach, the school district also came in for criticism for hiring an attorney to investigate the complaint and prepare a report, at a cost of about $22,000.

The school board also came in for criticism during public comment at recent meetings over the way other coaching situations have been handled at the high school. Several coaches have been dismissed or not renewed in recent years.

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


Discussion | 25 comments

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  • MLFebruary 28, 2014 - 8:43 am

    Resolving this privately may be the only way for the Peterson's to regain some of their severely damaged credibility. But if they seek blood, they can roll the dice. I did a quick review of this year's team to see if anything popped out. Something did pop out. It looks like 2 Freshmen played a significant role on the years volleyball team. (Both players may be from club volleyball, which is supposedly more competitive.) So a reserve player whose production went down (the Peterson's daughter) was replaced on the team by two new talented players. Competition. But if this fight continues, the legal bills will continue to climb. And will Mrs. Nancy Peterson then ask for Coach Crawford's VSA for girl's volleyball to be pulled?

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  • Marc KennerFebruary 28, 2014 - 11:34 am

    At what point after trying to fire a coach three times do you remove your personal ego and let it go? I can't believe that one family's complaint can result in the misuse of time and money from our district? How does this happen three times?????? How does every member of the board look at themselves in the mirror everyday and think this ok????What a joke!!!!

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  • Noreen MazelisFebruary 28, 2014 - 12:17 pm

    Marc Kenner writes, ". . . I can't believe that one family's complaint can result in the misuse of time and money from our district?" I can. Easily.

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  • February 28, 2014 - 1:42 pm

    I don't think anyone should judge the Petersons without knowing the whole story. There was an investigation of some length -- and yes quite expensive -- that resulted in the finding that Emma was cut in retaliation for her parent's complaint. That just is not OK. Ever. As a parent of a child who was cut from a sports team by a well-known Davis coach specifically and admittedly out of retaliation (coach was quite clear about the reason) due to my "misconduct" in inviting an older child's mother to allow her older child try out for my older child's team in a different city -- I personally know that some Davis coaches egos are themselves "legendary" and not in the best interests of the kids. We have some totally awesome coaches in Davis -- Spencer Elliott and Bill Gregg are stellar examples of how coaches SHOULD behave -- they are incredible coaches and role models. On the other hand, we have a few self-aggrandizing coaches whose egos far exceed their coaching abilities and who believe "the rules" are only for others to follow. And there are many Davis parents that fear the influence these coaches have over their kids' likelihood of being chosen for a team -- unrelated to their talent. It is also true that sometimes parents in Davis make unfair complaints about coaches, who are often volunteers or very underpaid. I have helped defend a coach in that situation as well. Ultimately, I think it is unfortunate that the investigation cannot be made public, so we can all hear more of the other side of the story. I do not know Coach Crawford, and have no experience with her -- and I don't know the Petersons either. But both sides should have a fair hearing.

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  • February 28, 2014 - 7:56 pm

    Track coaches, cross country coaches, swim coaches...they don't cut players, and every kid can participate. Who wouldn't like these coaches? It's a whole different arena when you're talking about sports like volleyball, soccer, baseball, basketball, ect. Making the team is hard, and playing time can be even harder.

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  • March 02, 2014 - 4:27 pm

    While every kid can "participate" in track and cross country, not every kid can run in every race. The child has to be one of the best on the team to be chosen to run Varsity, relays, etc. It is true that it is less subjective to choose "the best" as individual times, measurements, etc. make the choice easier. But coaches who work hard to encourage and develop ALL players on the team from the slowest and least competent, to the super stars, are special. Also, I know a competitive soccer coach who actually encouraged two of his own players that were much better than the rest of their go play at a different club on a better team -- because there they would develop more quickly and have a better chance to succeed at the next level. That, in my book, is putting the kid's best interest above the coach's ego and need to "win" -- which should be the top priority of all youth coaches.

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  • March 01, 2014 - 5:02 pm

    Very well said. There are some great coaches at DHS but also some very unethical ones who border on being abusive. Unfortunately, many parents don't want to speak up because they don't want their child to be viciously attacked by the lynch mob that ensues with the coach's supporters. Every coach will have their fans and their detractors but the viciousness that we've seen in Davis is out of control. Maybe if the Athletic Director was competent things wouldn't get to the board level.

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  • Duncan McMartinFebruary 28, 2014 - 2:41 pm

    Interesting choice of words by Gina Daleiden. I assume that when she says 'our district' she means everybody; the students, coaches, etc, who all have an interest in the outcome, not just the board. Also, 'remove our district from the battlefield'; a poor choice of inflammatory rhetoric for a start, but the district is the 'battlefield'; its the framework and environment for the initial conflict and the source for a multitude of missteps and administrative decisions that has exasperated this situation, and should be, in part, a contributor to the solution. Finally, 'move forward with educating our kids' and 'back to the business of serving our kids' seems to imply that athletics are not educational in nature. It seems that the Board has perhaps forgotten that the purpose of this complaint and hearing should be in part how to best serve and educate the kids. Athletics and education are a challenging mix, but interscholastic athletics must be viewed as an educational vehicle, and incorporate as many curricular elements and learning outcomes as possible. I have not coached at Davis High School for over 25 years and have no connection to any of the parties. However, as often happens in High School athletics, most everybody is an impassioned expert while only having a very limited picture of the scope and depth that they encompass.

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  • DHS AlumniFebruary 28, 2014 - 4:59 pm

    Whitmire's looking good! He should take the podium and tell the story of Jackrabbit Wilson and then motion to install himself as the new coach. Seriously people, who cares.

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  • Curt MillerFebruary 28, 2014 - 10:25 pm

    Democrats doing what they do best; mismanagement, obfuscation, using the levers of government for personal gain and enrichment, etc. It never ends. And to think some of the clown car members of the school board want to be on the city council. This ladder climbing perfectly explains the caliber of leadership we get on the city council. People with no management experience, no training with fiscal control matters, etc. The only thing they excel at is busting budgets to buy union votes and dreaming up gimcrack ideas like raising taxes again and again to pay for their reckless and untalented spending schemes. Meanwhile, Davis voters, disguised as a herd of sheep, endorse this nonsense year after year...

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  • February 28, 2014 - 11:15 pm

    It is amazing how the well educated people in this town jump to conclusions on all decisions that they are not responsible for making. Apparently everyone must all check in with Mr. Dunning, Mr. Greenwald and the other self appointed vocal experts in this town before they make a complaint, a decision or have an opinion or thought of their own. OMG if someone goes against their judgment. Let’s publicly flog everyone who has an independent right or opinion out of line with this vocal minority. Get the torches and pitch forks and run them from town, as they are not worthy to remain in here in their superior presence.

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  • Mike HenleFebruary 28, 2014 - 11:22 pm

    It seems like the coach is on trial. This is a joke! No one on the school board should have this much power to cause this much of a mess! Keep Crawford and Kick out Peterson!

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  • February 28, 2014 - 11:46 pm

    Great idea. When Nancy Peterson turns around her board, and gets two "Board Member of the Year" awards from an objective body, come talk to me.

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  • March 01, 2014 - 1:08 am

    The coach is an employee of a legal entity, the district. The official legal authority by State law for the district is the school board.

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  • Catherine HaskellMarch 01, 2014 - 11:44 am

    Enough with negative comments, I to choose to be positive. Something I learned during this drama is that Davis High has a FEMALE coach for the Varsity Mens Volleyball team. Wow, that is amazing! I have seen many males coach Varsity women's teams, but this is the first time I have seen it the other way around. Good for you Davis high, good luck and best wishes Coach Crawford.

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  • surpriseMarch 01, 2014 - 7:55 pm

    It starts at the top and flows to the sheep below (School Board) and the victims (Teachers, Coaches and Staff) - right after a new (overpaid/overblown) Emperor and team was crowned and knighted did all these dasterdly deeds occur.....disgusting.....the demise of what was once a great place to raise and educate a family....

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  • ChrisMarch 10, 2014 - 1:08 pm

    My daughter played Varsity for Julie Crawford for 2 years. We have seen her be petty and vindictive on many occasions. It is not at all surprising she cut the Petersen's daughter just to be vengeful, who is good and did not deserve that. This is Julie's MO. She seems to really like the boy's team, but regarding any of the girl's VB teams, she's often openly petty & mean to any player who does not suck up to her and treat her like a god. We have noticed she has also created that same culture with the Frosh & JV girl's VB coaches as well. DHS VB is so much better without her. Davis can be a small place, so the dissenting voices have not stood up to say what Julie is really like, but Nancy should be supported 100% for her votes against Julie since day one.

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  • Rich RifkinMarch 10, 2014 - 8:22 pm

    "It is not at all surprising she cut the Petersen's daughter just to be vengeful, who is good and did not deserve that." .......... Even if your view of the conflict were 100% true, it misses the main point of the Peterson story. Because Mrs. Peterson was on the School Board and because her daughter was in conflict with a School District employee, it was wrong and unethical of Mrs. Peterson (and her husband) to take up their daughter's case. They could have let their daughter fend for herself. Or, if they felt that would neglect their duty as parents and they just had to act, Mrs. Peterson should have immediately resigned her position on the School Board. Ultimately, she chose to do the right thing. However, allowing her husband to go after a school district employee while she was in a position of power over that employee showed shockingly bad judgment and is the cause for all the hurt feelings in the school community outside the parties involved. Additionally, as so many other coaches have said, the power play by the Peterson family in this case (prior to her resignation) has made the other coaches feel insecure when it comes to dealing with the children of those in authority positions. If the field hockey coach or the basketball coach does not play the child of another person in power in our school district enough minutes, will that coach be fired or otherwise punished?

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  • Rich RifkinMarch 10, 2014 - 8:31 pm

    The bad judgment in this case was not exclusively shown by Nancy and Rob Peterson. The other four Trustees of the School Board--Sheila Allen; Gina Daleiden; Susan Lovenburg; and Tim Taylor--ought to have spoken out long ago about their colleague's conflict of interest in this case. They should have told Nancy Peterson that she had to resign or drop this matter altogether. Those four let this go on without a peep. If this kind of problem is to be avoided in the years ahead, the current members of the school board need to adopt a new ethical standard which formally prohibits any Trustee of the Board (including spouses of members) or anyone else in a position of power in the school district from challenging the actions of a teacher or a coach or other district personnel who has authority over that Trustee's child or the child of someone close to the Trustee's family. If such a policy had been in place 3-4 years ago, this entire saga would have been avoided.

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  • March 11, 2014 - 7:28 am

    Rich- teachers and coaches are not gods. Some are good and some are bad, but they all make mistakes at some point because they 're human. The policy you suggest is not fair to student or parents. EVERY PARENT has the right to complain when they feel their child has been hurt.

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  • Rich RifkinMarch 11, 2014 - 8:41 am

    I agree with you that every parent has that right. However, if the parent is in a position of power over the coach, the parent has to first step down from that position if he wants to take up for his kid. At long last, Mrs. Peterson was convinced doing so was best for all. ............ That said, I think too many parents think they are obliged to fight their children's battles for them. I'm not sure that is always in a child's best interests. I think in many cases--especially for a high school student--a better life lesson can be learned by allowing the child to defend himself. I believe (but I have no proof of this) that in my day (Davis High School graduate, Class of 1982), parents were far less likely to raise a stink if their kids felt they were not treated fairly by a coach or an administrator. We seem to be living in a different culture, now, where parents presume their kid is always right, and until he graduates from a university, they will fight his fights for him.

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  • March 11, 2014 - 1:24 pm

    Class of 82'- district leadership failed to act decisively. That is the cause of this mess not the complaint. 99 percent of parent complaints are ignored by djusd and that keeps bullies like DW, LWC and JC in positions of power over students. I was there in 82' as well my friend and I remember DW and he was a bully.

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  • March 11, 2014 - 3:05 pm

    I love the fact that we're talking about school, that you graduated 30+ years ago, and that you still don't know how to abbreviate a year, i.e. '82 vs 82' - seems that maybe learning the definition of the word "bully" isn't the only thing you missed out on. Maybe a few more years at DHS would be helpful!

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  • March 11, 2014 - 3:55 pm

    A HUGE mistake indeed, but my words are still true. A bully is not hard to spot, all YOU need to do is find a mirror.

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  • KimMarch 11, 2014 - 4:09 pm

    But what is the abusive conduct that needs to be put in check? I haven't heard anything yet that sounds so horrible. If she really was abusive, I too would be on board to to get her out of coaching (and teaching PE). Regardless, I think the separate (and bigger) issue was Mrs. Peterson's use of her board power to pursue a very personal agenda. The fact that her initial complaints seem to have been petty make her later actions seem more offensive. Had they been legitimate complaints, we might be more understanding of her transgression, though not necessarily entirely forgiving.

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