Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Retaliation may be at root of coach’s dismissal


A sign taped to the Davis High gym indicates that Blue Devil boys volleyball tryouts are cancelled until further notice. DHS is without a coach after Julie Crawford's VSA was not renewed. Fred Gladdis/Enterprise photo

From page B1 | February 13, 2014 | 42 Comments

Davis High School volleyball coach Julie Crawford retaliated against her leading critic, school board member Nancy Peterson, by cutting Peterson’s daughter Emma — a varsity player since she was a sophomore — from the girls roster last summer, a school district investigation concluded.

That retaliation was in violation of board policy, the investigator said, and it may be at the root of the district’s decision not to rehire Crawford as boys volleyball coach for the spring season.

Though the investigation was concluded in November, it wasn’t until Feb. 5, according to Crawford, that she was told her variable services agreement to coach the DHS boys would not be renewed. That was less than a week before tryouts were scheduled to begin.

Superintendent Winfred Roberson and Assistant Superintendent Matt Best have declined to state the reasons why Crawford’s VSA has not been renewed. In a statement released to the media Wednesday, they acknowledged “the angst that the players and parents in the boys volleyball program may feel” but added, “It is DJUSD’s legal and ethical practice to strictly maintain employee privacy and confidentiality in personnel matters.”

However, The Enterprise has obtained a letter from Best summarizing attorney Alex Sperry’s investigation and which describes the violation of board policy that may have cost Crawford her coaching job. She remains employed as a physical education teacher at Davis High School.

The investigation was triggered by a Sept. 3 complaint filed by longtime Blue Devil volunteer sports doctor Rob Peterson, Nancy’s husband and Emma’s father, after Emma was cut from the volleyball team. She had played for Crawford for three seasons — two on varsity and one on JV when she was moved up as a freshman — and had started nearly half of the team’s matches as a junior in 2012. Emma was the only returning player not to make the 2013 team.

Crawford’s decision to cut Emma came just two months after the coach was initially told in late June that her VSA to coach girls volleyball last fall would not be renewed. However, after an outcry from some community members in support of Crawford, further discussion by the board led to a 3-1 vote that reversed the decision and allowed Crawford to continue as coach.

Trustees Sheila Allen, Gina Daleiden and Susan Lovenburg voted in favor and Peterson dissented. Trustee Tim Taylor, who participated in most of the discussion via conference call, was not on the line when the question was called and did not vote.

Leading into that controversy last summer, Nancy Peterson had raised several oral complaints to the district administration about Crawford’s coaching decisions during the 2012-13 school year.

The girls volleyball roster was finalized — without Emma Peterson — on Aug. 15, at which time Rob Peterson asked to meet with Crawford and DHS Athletic Director Dennis Foster.

“When I showed up to the meeting I was surprised to find not only the coach and AD but the union rep as well as the principal,” Rob Peterson said, adding that the meeting was unproductive. ”At that point I filed a complaint about Emma (being cut).”

The complaint triggered the investigation, which was completed around Thanksgiving, when the findings were sent to the district. Sperry’s conclusion — which was detailed in a Dec. 17 letter from Best to Rob Peterson — was that ”more likely than not, Coach Crawford’s decision to cut Emma Peterson from the varsity volleyball team was influenced, at least in part, by Coach Crawford’s feelings about Nancy Peterson.”

He added that Crawford’s action was in violation of Board Policy 1312.1, which “prohibits retaliation against a complainant who brings an oral or written complaint against a district employee.”

The findings went on to say that “Crawford did not display core ethical values of trustworthiness, respect and responsibility set forth in the Athletic Handbook for Coaches.”

However, Crawford told The Enterprise she believed she would be the coach — up until last week. She said her VSA was signed by DHS Principal Will Brown and Foster and was submitted to the district office sometime in January. The VSA, however, wasn’t sent to the school board to be confirmed at the Jan. 23 meeting (along with the VSA for every other Blue Devil spring coach).

The 11th-hour removal of Crawford as coach forced the cancellation of the tryouts that were scheduled to begin Monday. Parents of boys volleyball players were notified by Brown that “we have yet to identify a coaching staff for the 2014 season” and “in the meantime, practices will be canceled until a coaching staff is identified.”

The volleyball season opener is scheduled for Feb. 28.

Rob Peterson told The Enterprise he has been pressing the district for information about Crawford’s status since December.

“At that point (after receiving Best’s Dec. 17 letter) I was advised that this is a personnel matter and it would be dealt with confidentially,” he said. “Two weeks later, after not hearing anything, I sent an email asking what was going on and got a meeting with Winfred Roberson (on Jan. 6). At that meeting I was led to understand that the complaint was being taken seriously.

“I still didn’t hear anything for a while and then, because my son was planning on playing boys volleyball, I looked at the website on (Feb. 7) to get the tryout times and Julie Crawford’s name was still listed as coach. So I called Winfred Roberson to ask what was going on and was told she was not going to be the coach.

“That was the desired outcome, but that was desired to come in December. Of course, it’s a disaster for that to happen (a few days) before tryouts.”

Brown and Foster had no comment or did not reply to emails from The Enterprise on Wednesday. Nor did Crawford, who was asked if she knew about the investigation.

— Reach Chris Saur at csaur@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8049. Follow him on Twitter at @CSaurDEsports


Discussion | 42 comments

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  • February 12, 2014 - 11:48 pm

    I'm confused...... 1. How is a parent told that someone was fired prior to that coach knowing? 2. If this was a confidential personnel investigation why was Mr. Peterson given the reason for the firing....isn't That a "personnel matter" and can't be divulged? 3. So the husband of a a board member (the boss of the superintendent by the way) continually harassed that same superintendent because he was not happy with the answers he was receiving....again this is the husband of your boss.....enough said 4. "may have" is not fact or proof that Ms. Crawford did wrong. It is just speculation....o wait by a lawyer who is independent but paid by the district who is filled by the board. 5. I also find it funny that Ms. Crawford kept and played Nancy and Rob Petersons son after the first attempt of Nancy to fire her. If she were going to retaliate then why did she wait to cute one of her kids.....why not cut them both? Having said all of that I think it is time that the superintendent really back his actions up ..."I have the public to answer to" - Mr. Roberson, we are the public, we are speaking loud and clear but you are not listening!

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  • February 13, 2014 - 12:31 am

    So the coach was found not to have the core ethical values of trustworthiness, respect and responsibility and the principal and AD still signed her VSA? I find this extremely disappointing and I would have expected more from our high school administration. If the Superintendent is the one that pulled the VSA then I applaud him! There is no excuse for retaliation against a student.

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  • February 13, 2014 - 5:48 am

    This is truly ridiculous.....the lawyer who investigated and Nancy Peterson have this opinion....the school administrators, students, players, parents and all staff members do not have this opinion and have shown it by their public support and out cry....who should we believe ? One petty self serving board member and one lawyer or the 1000 other voices who work Ms. Crawford daily? I think hat judgment is one of the worst statements I have heard....and the fact that the lawyer couldn't even find fact or proof that Ms Crawford did anything proves this bogus claim.

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  • February 13, 2014 - 7:30 am

    What the Petersons are doing is retaliation and has been ongoing since before the Sept 3 cut mentioned above. I would think that the coach could choose to cut a player simply because the player (or the player's family) brings too much drama into the season, distracting the coach's attention from the rest of the players. Is that retaliation or just common sense. As for showing up with a union rep? If I had a person in a position of power repeatedly trying to get me fired for personal reasons request a meeting with me and my supervisor, I would want to have someone on my side as well. I feel sorry for all of the kids involved, both Peterson's and the rest of the boys and girls teams. They are the ones paying the price for all of this.

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  • Nancy McTygueFebruary 13, 2014 - 11:40 am

    Doctor Peterson is doing what every parent has a right and responsibility to do - advocate for his child's well being and fair treatment by public school officials. He has for years donated his time and expertise to the district, local schools, and our children. I remain grateful for his service to our community and hope that school and district leaders can find a way forward that acknowledges the mistakes that have been made and commit to a more respectful, timely, and thoughtful decision-making process going forward.

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  • AugustFaelynFebruary 13, 2014 - 3:00 pm

    I know of Julie as a teacher. I was on campus quite a bit, many of the kids knew me and it was a general consensus among them that they did NOT want to end up in Julie's PE class. The kids said they were afraid of her. She looked hateful and acted like a snob everytr I saw her. I rarely saw a smile on her face, which amazed me, since she chose to work with kids. Did it bring her joy? I never saw her having a positive exchange with the kids except when she was involved with volleyball. I've often wondered if she only decided to teach so she could have a shot at coaching a sport she clearly loves so deeply. I know of complaints about her rude and demeaning conduct with members of the general student population. We need to remember it's not just about winning, it IS about these kids. And reminder, it's possible Ms. Peterson was aware of some of the complaints or write ups in Julie's file when she chose to vote against rehiring Julie as the coach.

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  • lawrence morenoFebruary 13, 2014 - 4:25 pm

    who is this august faelyn? my response to this peterson sychophant is-"take a look at the photo of the kids rallying around her cause. A F sounds like a low-information person- an emotional, obama voter.

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  • Bob SimonsFebruary 14, 2014 - 7:11 am

    Because this case involved Nancy Peterson's children directly, it establishes a conflict of interest. She should not be directly involved in the votes or official Board of Trustees' discussions. She finally realized this but her husband who is privy to confidential information from his wife the board member, is continuing to carry the torch. The above undocumented information relating to Julie Crawford's PE students appears to be an attempt at dismantling her reputation. Every teacher has students who wish they could be in someone else's class. Many just don't like PE. (I have a BA and MA in PE and 30 years experience in education.)

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  • AugustFaelynFebruary 14, 2014 - 7:35 am

    Not out to "dismantle" anyone's reputation simply stating there's 2 sides to every story. I was around the other 2 PE teachers quite a bit at the school for over 3 years so I do kinda know what I'm talking about. HUGE difference between the PE teachers - personality, approachability. HUGE. And you are right, Ms. Peterson should've been removed from voting, there was a clear case of conflict of interest.

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  • Coach RobFebruary 14, 2014 - 1:10 pm

    My name is Coach Rob. I am sorry for the communities outreach in one direction or the other. In the IMMEDIATE, this is about our kids moving forwarded in a volleyball program ASAP. Please help me to inform the ATHLETES that we will be having an open gym tonight at Davis Senior High, in the Small Gym, 8pm. Also, I will say parents, "lets get them playing and you grown ups, hash out the rest." Athletes, "Lets play ball boys' and leave this to the grown ups, hope to see you there tonight."

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  • February 14, 2014 - 2:59 pm

    Is this the Peterson approved replacement? This is an ongoing debacle, and who knows how the students may react. That could follow your lead, or they could protest, march, or boycott the decision. Some of these students are also young adults.

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  • February 13, 2014 - 6:43 am

    Is it possible the student was cut from the team only because there were better players than her? Isn't that a coach decision?

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  • February 13, 2014 - 6:55 am

    This is 100% true. In that same coaches handbook of also says that coaches have the right to make team selections. There is a burden of proof because there is no retaliation. Again the Peterson son was not cute and got playing time.

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  • February 13, 2014 - 7:22 am

    There is no way to justify the coaches actions.

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  • An involved parentFebruary 13, 2014 - 10:00 am

    I was there this morning, and listened to Mr. Peterson's remarks. My comment is, I hope that the attorney has coached a youth sports team. During my years of coaching, I find that the ability to work well with others, a good attitude and "coach ability" are necessary qualities needed to play on a team sport - maybe even more so than physical attributes/qualifications. I would put the need of the team over the need of one player, who has/would bring a negative environment to the team. Period. I believe Julie not putting a girl on the roster was not retaliation for her parents' actions, but for said girl's actions during tryouts, and from the previous year. There are hundreds of witnesses to Julie's integrity as a coach. We are supporting her. As no attorney was there at tryouts, how on earth can they say why she was cut from the team? Wow Petersons……wow.

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  • February 13, 2014 - 10:32 am

    Can you describe the players actions which were objectionable? It seems like this "lawyer", if he / she were objective, would also ask to speak with fellow players to see if she what kind of player and teammate she was.

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  • Marc KennerFebruary 13, 2014 - 8:21 am

    How does a parent findout the coach is be fired before the coach does? How do the AD and principle sign the coaches new contract only to have the Superintendent pull it? And for the most important part, the kid. As a parent, what are you teaching your kid??? You get cut or don't play, fire the coach!?!? What a joke!!!!!

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  • February 13, 2014 - 9:28 am

    Your child started half the game the year before... why are they suprised they were cut. Sound like typical davis parents whining at this point and untill proof comes out otherwise, thats what it will be. (And i dont care if spelling or grammar is wrong, im on my phone)

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  • February 13, 2014 - 9:29 am

    The public really needs to let the school board know how they feel about this. After all, they work for us.

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  • MLFebruary 13, 2014 - 9:57 am

    I didn't think this soap opera could get worse, but it has. First, there should be volleyball statistics to rank what Emma achieved - kills, digs, aces, etc., so we can see how her stats compared to her fellow players. Is it fair to say she is a decent, or better, player? Secondly, however, if that player is part of continual harassment and undermining of the coaches opinions and objectives and authority, then the coach has the ability to remove that distraction, it seems, according to the school's own handbook! If this player doesn't "play well with others", then it could really undermine the team. I can only imagine the distractions with both parents there, both highly educated and well heeled (so they can potentially game the system?), the daughter, the school board, .. then add in Twitter for the kids ... what a disaster! And then we have supervisors and leaders spilling the beans on personel matters, before the coach is told what is going on, and then drug their feet for months!! And WHO hired this "lawyer"? Is this lawyer who investigated truly objective? Did he or she realize that the coach has the right to determine the makeup of the team? Did the AD and technocrats point this out to him?

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  • disgustedFebruary 13, 2014 - 10:38 am

    The problem with Davis High Athletics continues... which I think falls on the AD. This entire situation is horrible. I agree with the comments above, their should be documentation and witnesses at the tryouts that can verify her performance. I could not imagine wanting to cut one sibling then having to deal with the wrath of the parents for a whole season. Seems to me if it was true retaliation she would have cut them both. There are tryouts for a reason, if your cut... your cut. This is not setting a very good example for the daughter.

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  • February 13, 2014 - 11:31 am

    The AD has been %100 supportive of Julie but once paperwork gets to the district level he has no control over his supervisors and decision they make. This is not the ADs issue but a district level leadership (or lack there of) problem.

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  • Bob SimonsFebruary 13, 2014 - 10:35 am

    I would ask the obvious question.....Did the coach retaliate because of this issues created by the board member or did the board member retaliate against the coach for the coach cutting her daughter? Bear in mind, the prospective coach of the team coaches the team her son was associated with and made inquiry about members of the team over a month ago. This was a planned effort, in my opinion, of the board member Peterson, for cutting the daughter. Just look at the chain of events. They don't point in the board member's corner......

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  • February 13, 2014 - 11:23 am

    Another nasty Davis scandal. Tut tut The volunteer team doc is Doctor Peterson (not Mr. Peterson), I assume, an orthopedic surgeon at Sutter Davis. And mom's on the school board? Well, it doesn't take a surgeon to see that this is a personal issue that has gotten way out of hand. Nasty stuff.

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  • February 13, 2014 - 12:36 pm

    Julie is a great person and a leader of our youth. Very slanderous stuff being said about her. I support you Julie. Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

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  • HamishFebruary 13, 2014 - 2:00 pm

    How many committed and winning coaches must DHS dump before this unprofessional and destructive vetting process is revamped? Is this the fifth or sixth coach whose head has rolled ... I've lost count? Might now be a good time for the school board and administrators to refocus on the jobs we elected/pay them to do? Given that the Athletic Director and the Superintendent have both refused to forward coaches' contracts for renewal in fear of 'losing their jobs,' one wonders if this lawyer Alex Sperry who conducted the investigation also feared for the same sort of retaliation from the School Board if he didn't provide them with the "right" answer. There are so many perfectly legitimate reasons to not add a given player to a team's roster, to assume that any one of them is 'more likely than not' is a weak reason for concluding anything; more importantly, it's an inexcusable reason to fire a coach.

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  • former coachFebruary 13, 2014 - 2:06 pm

    sounds like a classic example of dysfunctional parents trying to live their lives thru their kids. how sad! coach C is a class act and a true professional. i strongly recommend that coach C seek legal counsel. is there any way to recall this board member?

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  • MLFebruary 13, 2014 - 2:37 pm

    Has Coach Crawford improved her team's skill-level? Check. Have their records improved? Check. Has she gained the support of virtually all her players? Check. Did she help inspire more boys to come out for volleyball? Check. Is she a respected PE coach? Check. Did her superiors give her positive reviews? Check. Did she cut the sibling of the player involved? No. Did she cut a struggling player who had historically meddlesome parents? Check.

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  • February 13, 2014 - 5:07 pm

    I am not surprised that a coach retaliated against a player. Hang around the high school for a few minutes and you will find out that this is not an isolated case nor is it limited to volleyball. I have lost count of the times I have heard parents say that they would speak up but they are afraid their student will pay the price. It's time to clean up the athletic department at the high school! If our current AD is incapable of doing this, then the first step that should be to replace him

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  • MLFebruary 13, 2014 - 5:26 pm

    Yes, fire them all! Then, let them have their iPhones of the bench so they can Tweet ... hey, let's let the know-it-all parents coach! Is that what Julie Peterson wants? To be the coach?

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  • AnonymousFebruary 13, 2014 - 10:03 pm

    My daughter was a student at DHS and didn't make the softball team one year (while being cut the coach brought up the fact that the year before she'd seen my daughter playing rec ball in another community and disgustedly asked her "why would you do that?!" - really? held a grudge against my kid and cut her over that? Rec ball?!) Later my daughter got into a discussion with one of her DHS teachers about whether she played sports for the high school and she told the teacher no, she didn't make the softball team and he (a coach at Davis High!!!) said he wasn't surprised, said he noticed they tend to pick people they know or have a bond with. I LOVE sports, but I tell ya, this is just high school sports folks, not the Olympics.

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  • February 13, 2014 - 7:34 pm

    At least I know who I would never chose as a doctor!

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  • Debbie RamosFebruary 13, 2014 - 8:36 pm

    Please......everybody take a deep breath. Do these comments really help the situation at all. Please consider the feelings of all of the people involved. This young girl has to go to school........ think about how your own children would feel if they were at the center of a controversy. It sounds like a situation that has just spiraled out of control. Let's let the appropriate officials handle this and let's all reserve judgement. We teach our kids not to cyber-bully.......

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  • Not so New DavisiteFebruary 13, 2014 - 9:59 pm

    No "appropriate officials" here. System geared to screw the coach. Hopefully her union stands up for her.

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  • AnonymousFebruary 13, 2014 - 10:10 pm

    This particular coach, if memory serves me, was almost eliminated a year or two ago for some reason (before anyone's daughter was cut), wondering why.

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  • February 13, 2014 - 10:25 pm

    Anon 10:10. Same saga, mostly the same individuals involved. Pretty sad.

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  • February 13, 2014 - 10:27 pm

    There are plenty of horror stories about how students have been treated at Davis High over the past three decades. Most parents let the unfairness, emotional abuse and law-breaking by teachers and admins go unpunished for the sake of their child's sense of self-esteem, reputation and future prospects. Just to say, one of these days your child will graduate and you won't have to deal with this crap anymore..and you get to vote "NO" on school bonds!

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  • February 14, 2014 - 5:54 pm

    Jim R. Um, what?

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  • February 14, 2014 - 3:29 pm

    The Davis Vanguard has reported that the Mike Best letter was leaked by Dr. Peterson... who filed the original complaint.

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  • February 15, 2014 - 10:50 am

    I find it interesting that so many of the key players who are involved, or voted to remove Coach Crawford, aren't named in these articles. The Superintendent is Winfred Robeson. The education board members are Sheila Allen (President), Gina Daleiden (VP), Tim Taylor, Susan Lovenburg, and Nancy Peterson.

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  • February 15, 2014 - 12:46 pm

    I think it would be beneficial if you told us that this is the third time that Nancy Peterson has tried to remove Coach Crawford, and her 4th or 5th vote against Coach Crawford. Coach Crawford also recently won a Coach of the Year award, and had a high turnout for both teams. Also, I find it interesting that Coach Crawford felt compelled to list strict rules on when parents could speak to a coach before, during, or after a game ... which seemed to imply that someone was pestering her. In all my years of playing sports, my parents never did this.

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  • February 15, 2014 - 9:00 pm

    I do not have kids in sports any longer as they have moved on to bigger and better things. However, as a parent and district employee, I feel that this entire situation has been handled poorly. If Julie-who I do not really know-was indeed acting in such a way that was vindictive, inappropriate or otherwise, she should have been reprimanded by her direct supervisor. However, what has been shared by The Davis Enterprise is that is not correct as her evaluations have been stellar. If there were circumstances that were noticed by parents, board members or others, they should have went through the proper channels. What is happening here is that a young woman; one who obviously enjoys working with students, is being hung out to dry and has become the victim of public opinion. Having worked with at risk youth for many years, I find it very sad that this situation is happening to her and to our kids. All DJUSD students need a person who is willing to dedicate time, effort, and be a mentor to all students. By adding fuel to the fire-with articles such as this and with continued coverage of this matter it is taking away from the situation at hand which is that kids who need this type of outlet are now waiting to to see what other drama unfolds. They are also being subject to all this drama. If in fact Nancy Petersen and her husband had problems with Julie, they chose to crucify her in the court of public opinion and use whatever clout, money or whatever they have to manipulate the situation. If they did not go to her direct supervisor, they are at fault for not allowing him to do his job. Is that fair to the other kids who really want to just play and have positive experiences while learning how to work with others and do their very best? Probably not as this is now a giant bunch of drama. What a mess.

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