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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8055.