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DHS girls situation should have been avoided

By January 4, 2011

Enterprise columnist

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For what it\’s worth, there\’s something happening here …

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What it is, ain\’t exactly clear.

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Nobody\’s right, if everybody\’s wrong.

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It\’s time we stopped … everybody look around.

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When Davis High twin sisters Khaliya and Malika Wilkins removed themselves from an “unsafe situation” (according to their mother Lorraine), the report from Lady Blue Devil basketball coach Jeff Christian the next day was that he had dismissed the pair from the squad for “conduct detrimental to the team.”

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His announcement, as we all now know, lit a firestorm that remains out of control.

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As some school officials, most notably first-year DHS Athletic Director Dennis Foster (ironically now the DHS girls basketball coach), stood behind Christian\’s decision, Lorraine Wilkins posted

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a series of concerns on The Davis Enterprise Web site — and thus went public with a four-year drama involving the Wilkins sisters and Jeff Christian.

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In fairness to Foster, maybe he didn\’t know the whole story after the first meeting with Christian. Foster\’s comments were made Saturday — before a series of Monday meetings that led to Christian\’s removal.

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Through phone calls, e-mails and personal contacts, I\’ve spent almost a week trying to ferret through the accusations and the official reasons for Christian\’s termination.

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A slipperier slope was never encountered.

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The district and high school officials won\’t talk about what happened.

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Lorraine Wilkins, who went public with the most recent episode involving Christian and her daughters, remains the only one being candid.

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Even Christian told me Monday he wasn\’t clear on why he was fired, but promised to go quietly (my words, not his).

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The whole situation — the he-said, she-said being portrayed on our Web site — is wicked and now

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disproportionate to what might have been avoided with appropriate intervention by officials when the first hint of conflict reared, almost four years ago.

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But look at the high school hierarchy. Fine people. No question. But hamstrung by not having

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background. In four years, DHS has had three athletic directors. In the past three years, three principals.

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With that kind of personnel movement, things will fall in the crack. It\’s a damned shame this

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relationship did. It was avoidable … and aside from how it impacts so many in such a dramatic way, it makes me sad.

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My policy as a community journalist always has been that what happens in a locker room stays in a locker room. One has to trust coaches to do their jobs — while expecting players to compete within rules and be respectful of teammates.

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When it comes to personnel matters, they are, well, personal.

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Unless somebody comes forward publicly with a beef (like Lorraine Wilkins), there\’s a certain amount of respect that I think the press must pay to the privacy of people\’s lives. (Not always a popular policy in my business, especially as it relates to TV journalism.)

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Nonetheless, when we come to what we have in a case like Christian\’s removal, isn\’t the school district responsible to explain their actions and, in turn, take the praise or heat?

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By leaving the public in limbo, the give-and-take in guessing what happened does more harm than the original action.

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Yeah. It\’s personnel (personal). Yeah. It\’s a touchy subject. But maybe in this case, is there much ado about nothing? Probably not. This is a deep cut from a double-edged sword. Did a player curse at a coach in a meeting? Did the coach intimate players? What happened?

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Bottom line here is the kids know what went on.

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But I\’m not going there. To quote the Lady Blue Devils or have their teammates see that they\’re “talking to the press” isn\’t helpful. They are kids, trying to learn life lessons and have a little fun playing basketball.

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You want a deeper story on what caused the termination of Jeff Christian, you\’re going to have to ask Lorraine Wilkins or Christian himself.

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You\’re getting nothing more from the school district, Associate Superintendent Kevin French made that clear Monday. And, unless that changes, you\’re not getting anything more from me.

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It\’s all just very sad.

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— Bruce Gallaudet is the DHS girls basketball beat writer for The Davis Enterprise. Reach him at [email protected] or (530) 747-8047. Comment on this column at www.davisenterprise.com

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