Board President Daleiden Attempts to Offer Some Answers to Burning Questions

volleyballTo date, the controversy over the district’s pulling the VSA (variable service agreement) for Volleyball Coach Julie Crawford has generated many questions and much frustration in the community.  Adding fuel to the fire was the revelation that the district spent over $22,000 on a nearly 100 hour investigation into a coach’s decision about a player who happened to be the daughter of a school board member.

That investigation generated a seemingly nuanced finding, in which the investigator apparently concluded it was “more likely than not” that the coach’s decision was “at least in part influenced” by her dispute with the school board member.

While there are many specific questions in the community, many of those involve sensitive and confidential personnel matters that school board members and personnel are precluded from answering.  Many of the 18 main questions and followups that the Vanguard did pose to Board President Gina Daleiden are procedural, and we should note that Ms. Daleiden went out of her way to answer questions as directly as possible, but she did have to clear many with district legal counsel.

One of the key questions that arose last night after the Vanguard ran the story regarding the $22,000 in expenditures on the 100 hour investigation is how often these investigations occur, whether the district spends this much typically on an investigation and, if not, how much do they typically spend.

For the most part, the Board never sees most investigations, as they get handled administratively and the board generally only gets involved if and when there is an appeal.

District Expenditures on the Investigation of Julie Crawford

Ms. Daleiden did state on the record that “there are different types and levels of investigation.”

“Generally speaking, you might imagine that when an investigation involves a Board Member or a top administrator, it really needs to be done by someone outside the DO (district office) rather than internally,” she said. “The nature of the complaint might also necessitate an outside person or an attorney/professional investigator. It does very much depend on the individual case.”

For the ease of understanding the first portion of questions that Gina Daleiden answers, we will use a Q&A format.  It is important though to remember that where she avoids direct answers, she may have legal constraints that prevent her from answering as much as perhaps she would like.  The way she was able to answer many of the questions was to avoid talking about the specifics of this case.  These are the answers to the first four questions.

Vanguard:   Who ordered the investigation and determined who would be the investigator?

Gina Daleiden:  “In any complaint process, once the District receives a formal written complaint, the District administration must determine which complaint policy applies and who is appropriate and available to investigate to some extent.  Investigations are often conducted by personnel within the District, by general counsel to the District, or by other investigation professionals like an attorney or a private investigator.”

Vanguard: Who is entitled to have access to either “the report” or a summary of the report?  Do you see conflicts between the investigator and other work that they have performed?

Gina Daleiden: “Because the Board itself may, in any given case, ultimately have to act in a quasi-judicial role and impartially consider the case, details or even the existence of various complaints are usually not shared with the Board until an appeal is requested.  Once the Board decides to grant an appeal, the Board may access the report and relevant material. Because the District endeavors to protect the privacy rights of employees and students, investigation documents are often deemed ‘confidential’ because they contain personnel or student information that should not be released to the public.  Investigation documents may also be privileged from release to the public on other grounds, such as attorney-client communication.

“In terms of specifics on the case you are referencing, the Board has yet to go through all of the relevant material and detail, and so at this time I do not, as an individual Board Member, have an opinion about possible conflicts.”

Vanguard: Would the complainant receive a copy of the report or a letter from the district HR Administrator?

Gina Daleiden:  “The District provides the complainant and the respondent with correspondence regarding the results of the investigation, including the factual findings, conclusions (if any), and the next steps in the process. “

Vanguard:  Would that document be considered a personnel document? 

Gina Daleiden: “The District has an obligation to protect confidential personnel matters, confidential student matters, attorney-client communications, and the deliberative process.  Investigation documents are often deemed ‘confidential’ because they contain personnel or student information that should not be released to the public.  Each document is unique and is handled on a case-by-case basis at the administrative level.”

For more detail, see the DJUSD Administrative Regulations listed here:


Gina Daleiden later added, “In the next few days, I expect the Board to have further detail from counsel about the appeal process and how and when we will access detailed information about this current complaint/appeal.”

As we reported yesterday, on Sunday we learned that Ron Duer and Jordan Friend have taken over the team on an interim basis.  But Rob Cole was apparently told by district administrators that he would be the interim coach and then the district changed its mind.

According to one source that asked to be anonymous, the Vanguard learned that Mr. Cole has close ties to Nancy Peterson and coached her kids in Sacramento.

Mr. Cole was quoted in the paper having believed he was offered and would receive that position; however, by the end of the day the district went with Ron Duer and Jordan Friend.

Mr. Duer said, “Jordan Friend and I are co-interim coaches until Julie gets her job back.”

Board President Gina Daleiden told the Vanguard late Tuesday, “It’s important to remember that employees are not ‘hired’ until the Board votes to approve employment.”

She explained that the hiring process for coach includes screening, panel interview, reference checks and fingerprinting.  She said, “Information is gathered at each stage in order to inform employment decisions.”

She added, “It is not uncommon that an offer of employment is withdrawn if there are legitimate reasons. In this instance those legitimate reasons did not come to the attention of our staff until after the employment offer had been made.”

The Vanguard will receive additional responses and publish those accordingly.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. Fremontia

    Nancy Peterson ran as a candidate that was interested in educational equity for those less fortunate and falling behind as a result of race, poverty or cultural dynamics. Most of her time on the board has been spent mired in a mess that smacks of privilege for her own family. $22,000 would buy a lot of computers or classroom aide support. I guess all students are equal in her view but a few are more equal.

    1. TrueBlueDevil

      Add in the time for staff, managers, senior manager, and in-house council to review and communicate about this reserve player losing her team slot, and this whole fiasco might have cost the citizens of Davis more than $100,000.

      More difficult to calculate are the “opportunity costs” involved. What if all of these individuals each had 2 more hours a day, 5 days a week, for 2 or 3 months, to work with at-risk students. That is the true travesty.

  2. SODA

    I appreciate Gina being willing to answer questions, but I didn’t get much from her answers….I would especially invite questions regarding the Board’s role and ethics….and the Board’s role in assessing competence of administrations in handling these matters.

    1. Don Shor

      Conversation that should have happened.

      “Dad, she cut me from the team!”

      “Oh, man, that’s really too bad. I’m so sorry. I wish we could do something about it, but since your mom’s on the school board it would look like a conflict of interest if we got involved. Maybe there’s another sport you could play. I know, it doesn’t seem fair, but that’s what’s best for everyone.”

      1. iPad Guy

        Your persistent defense of the utterly indefensible is amazing.

        In fact, I cannot believe this is a discussion you would have had with your child, based on your past descriptions of how you’ve handled your own dealings with the school district. My impression is that you feel the education of the children comes first and that you’ve acted on that belief.

        You would willingly accept a school coach cutting your child in retaliation for what your wife did as a school board member? You’re fine with the district treating student athletes so unfairly, just let such a practice continue without speaking up.

        You and David argue that a student’s well being and a family’s complaint rights outlined in district policy no longer should apply once one parent is elected to the school board? That school employees should get free shots at children of board members they dislike?

        “Best for everyone?” Maybe for the screwed up adults involved.

        1. Don Shor

          I consider high school athletics very unimportant, that being on a team is a privilege, and that coaches have — and should have — a great deal of latitude as to who is on the team. Unlike you, I don’t remotely believe that “the district treat(s) student athletes so unfairly.” I frankly find it amazing that anybody cares this much about volleyball. There are other sports, other coaches, and other ways to enrich your high school experience.

          I think you are way off the mark, completely and totally, in your relentless defense of the actions of the Petersons. Since you post anonymously, I have to assume that you are a friend of the family.

          1. Matt Williams

            Don, your two answers above help me understand your perspective very well. It is a perspective that is held by a substantial portion of the nation’s population. I doubt Davis is any different from the rest of the Nation. For the most part I agree with your perspective. Call it the “suck it up buttercup” perspective. Life gives us all setbacks/challenges and situations like the one that the Petersons’ daughter experienced prepare each of us for dealing with similar setbacks/challenges that come in the future.

            That same perspective is precisely why I oppose non-academic intra-district transfers. The personal challenges a student may have within their academic learning environment are opportunities to grow their personal character.

          2. Don Shor

            And, as noted before, any policy based on your opposition to “non-academic intra-district transfers” would be very harmful to individuals, and would have destroyed my child’s academic outcomes, as well as that of other individuals that I know. But I don’t expect you ever to change your position in this regard, nor am I surprised that you chose to inject it into this thread. You simply have no idea what you are talking about on this topic.

          3. Davis Progressive

            but a lot of people consider high school athletics very important – hence the amount of coverage in what amounts to a coaches decision to cut a player. while i may agree with your point mostly, i have trouble reconciling your individual value judgment with community standards.

            besides this ends up being a far more important issue when you consider conflicts of interest and abuse of power.

          4. Don Shor

            How many players get cut across the various sports options every year in DJUSD? What criteria do the coaches use? Is it simply stats, or are there subjective criteria involved? How do the other coaches feel about this kind of micro-managing of their decisions-making processes? How many different sports are available, team and club and what-not, for a student to choose from?
            I understand that sports can teach kids lots of valuable lessons. This one is teaching some pretty murky lessons, I’d say.

          5. hpierce

            PE is important… competitive teams playing other schools for ‘glory and honor’, not so much in my opinion. Perhaps another solution, moving forward, is to get rid of the team sports program, and redirect the funds and efforts to physical education for everyone, more spending for resources to promote the arts (for ALL students), industrial arts (again, for all), ‘core stubjects’ deferred maintenance, capital improvement, and/or reduction of parcel taxes. Please note I specifically did not include salary increases, but would definitely make sure basic medical/dental was covered.

            I wonder how much money would be freed up by eliminating all the “professional HS” sports programs.

          6. Nancy Price

            This is the best reform of policy and use of funds suggestion, I’ve read in the entire discussion.

          7. Jeff Simons

            By that logic, should we also remove the competitive orchestra and band programs which require auditions to join and replace them with general music classes which could benefit all students? Replace any program or class that costs the district money and benefits a handful of students with simpler programs that benefit everyone?

          8. Jim Frame

            Competitive sports provide important opportunities for kids to develop self-confidence and a sense of identity that’s not tied to academics. Sure, the academic stars don’t need that avenue so much, but there are a lot of kids for whom sports make the rest of the school program palatable.

            I wouldn’t object to some budget analysis to ensure a rational balance between the various academic and non-academic programs, but calling for elimination ignores the whole student.

            I also wouldn’t object to the elimination of excessively dangerous sports like football, which I think is going the way of the dodo eventually as a result of liability exposure. But then we’re a baseball family, not a football family. 🙂

          9. iPad Guy

            Well, there the difference. I consider it important how district employees treat students in our schools as important, whether it’s in the classroom, gym, shop, cafeteria or principal’s office.

            You misrepresent my questions about how you suggest you’d deal with the situation for which you provide the dialogue “that should have happened.” Are you really saying that you’d remain silent if you felt illegal retaliation was involved with your own child?

            It helps to understand that you feel high school athletics is “very unimportant.” Still, they’re there and the “privilege” to belong should be determined on a fair basis for all.

            Coaches do have “a great deal of latitude”–as long as it doesn’t devolve into inappropriate biases that violate school policy.

            Full disclosure about the Vanguard moderator’s snarky comment, assuming that I “must be a friend of the (Peterson) family”: absolutely wrong. I’ve never even met any of the parties in this drama.

            I’d hope that you would weigh comments on their content rather than whether they come from a pseudonym poster.

            Time for you move next to attack secret poster TrueBlueDevil whose “relentless defense of the actions” of the coach have been filled with allegations against players and baseless misinformation.

          10. hpierce

            It’s unclear if the athlete and/or the parents contacted the coach, to ask for an explanation, but I see no evidence that this occurred, per the procedures outlined elsewhere. It is unclear whether the next steps, following procedures, were followed either. From what I’ve seen written, it appears the “nuclear option” or “power play” kicked in immediately. That is just wrong and inappropriate, if that is what occurred.

          11. iPad Guy

            The Enterprise story described an administration meeting with Dr. Peterson, Coach Crawford and others in an attempt to resolve the issues. After this fell apart, Dr. Peterson filed a complaint.

          12. Michelle Millet

            In the broader interest of the community that Nancy Peterson serves, this may have been a good place to drop it.

            If they were unwilling to do so, it may have been the time to resign from the school board.

          13. hpierce

            Yet the first step was to have a disussion with the coach. No evidence I’ve seen to date that discussion was reqested, or took place. That’s a foul.

          14. Don Shor

            Are you really saying that you’d remain silent if you felt illegal retaliation was involved with your own child?

            Illegal? No, I wouldn’t remain silent. You believe the coach acted illegally?

            Still, they’re there and the “privilege” to belong should be determined on a fair basis for all.

            So, what method is ‘fair’? Only an objective measure? On that basis, we could just have a computer determine the team roster.

          15. iPad Guy

            Of course, you wouldn’t remain silent. But that’s what you say Dr. Peterson should have done when he believed the coach acted illegally (or in violation of DJUSD policies)

            No, I don’t know if the coach cut the player out of spite. But, that’s the complaint and that’s what the district investigation apparently determined (to the administration’s satisfaction).

            What’s “fair” for students? No need for a computer, just don’t use prohibited considerations to make selections.

            Using race isn’t fair. Being pissed at a player’s parent isn’t a fair contribution to player evaluations.

            This isn’t rocket science.

          16. TrueBlueDevil

            Funny, I keep waiting for the Coach Crawford / Bobby Knight meltdown scenario to become public, but all I read and see is that the Peterson family is still whining from the decisions from last summer. I read the stories last summer, and they smelled. They were loaded for bear from that point.

            I think the more interesting items to me were over 20 student-athletes showing up to support their coach at a 7 AM meeting, as well as parents. The Blue Devil student newspaper included 4 video clips that were telling to me. Second to this is maxpreps and the statistics it presents.

            I’m sure that at some point, Coach Crawford may have raised her voice, or had some manifestations of the stress that she has been under for over a year. She is human, after all. But I value loyalty, respect, hard work, and commitment, and she has apparently put together several excellent volleyball teams and true team unity. I have seen no Bobby Knight meltdown, maybe one is hidden in the double secret report.

            But I have read where Mrs. Peterson wanted an assistant coach fired from the previous coachs’ staff, and then Coach Crawford’s staff. How presumptuous and overbearing. If this is true, then Coach Crawford would be at minimum the 3rd coach she has wanted removed in a short period of time.

            Nuances keep getting revealed. The recent line is whether the Peterson’s used lower-level conflict resolution options. It appears that they may have gone for the nuclear option (another poster’s term), which makes sense given their unresolved bitterness and seeming sense of entitlement.

            But I guess given your opinion, you feel that the assistant coaches and 20+ players are part of some grand conspiracy?

          17. Michelle Millet

            Are you really saying that you’d remain silent if you felt illegal retaliation was involved with your own child?

            I am all for standing up for what is right. But at some point it’s not worth the price tag. I would not be okay with the district spending $22,000 to decide if my child was unfairly cut from a team, even if I knew I was right.

          18. enoughsaid

            ” I consider it important how district employees treat students in our schools as important, whether it’s in the classroom, gym, shop, cafeteria or principal’s office.”

            I agree!

        2. David Greenwald

          I think the key point you are missing here is that Peterson is trying to have it both ways – she is trying to be a school board member and a parent. There are times when those two roles conflict and once she decided to not only vote no but issue a strong statement, she was better served sending her daughter to Sacramento playing volleyball on a sports club.

          1. iPad Guy

            I understand the point you keep making.

            I think the key point you won’t acknowledge is that this is a question about whether Coach Crawford engaged in retaliation by cutting the student athlete from the team.

            Of course, you’re correct that the coach wouldn’t have had the chance to get even with the family this way if the daughter had decided to try out for another team in Sacramento. Or, applied for transfer to another school. Or….

            And, of course, we also wouldn’t have been in this fix if the coach hadn’t cut the student from the team, right?

            There are all kinds of options different people could have taken. But, here we are.

          2. hpierce

            And somebody should acknowledge is whether the appropriate ‘lower drama’ remedies were sought, prior to the “formal” complaint. In my opinion, that is crucial information before coming to judgement either way.

          3. David Greenwald

            I understand that. But when Nancy Peterson made those comments about her child’s coach, she put everyone into an awkward position. And that started the cascade of events. As you know, I’m much more concerned about official conduct by elected and upper administrators than whatever the coach did. That’s not totally dismiss her role in this, but it’s to understand the nature of the power discrepency.

          4. iPad Guy

            Well, it must be difficult if you can’t accept that the school district is dealing with the official conduct of the coach at this point.

            A “power discrepancy” also can happen at a lower level than is within view if you only look at the top. Between a coach and a student, for example.

            Sure, Nancy Peterson “put everyone into an awkward position” when she made her board meeting comments. But, that wouldn’t justify the coach cutting her daughter two months later, would it?

          5. David Greenwald

            “I think the key point you won’t acknowledge is that this is a question about whether Coach Crawford engaged in retaliation by cutting the student athlete from the team.”

            I guess where I differ with you is that I believe “there is a question” about whether there was retaliation, but I don’t believe “this” as in “this controversy” is about that.

            “we also wouldn’t have been in this fix if the coach hadn’t cut the student from the team, right?”

            Essentially what you’re suggesting is that once Board Member Nancy Peterson issued her statement, Coach Crawford could not have cut her. That problem I think illustrates that the real origin of this problem was not at the point where the player was cut, but rather at the point where Nancy Peterson believed she had the right to publicly criticize a district employee and then send her daughter to play for that district employee. To me that is the issue at hand and everything else flowed that flawed decision.

          6. iPad Guy

            So, you’re ignoring the issue at hand (Coach Crawford’s appeal) in order to place blame on the board member for her unwise official actions almost a year ago.

            We definitely are looking at two controversies here. Your’s is old and mine is current.

            Of course, I’m not suggesting that Ms. Peterson’s griping about the coach somehow protects her daughter from having to compete fairly in the future.

            You keep saying that Ms. Peterson “sent her daughter to play” as though that’s an indictment and without considering that the decision might have been the daughter’s alone.

            But, consider the flip side of your argument. Once the early dispute happened, should the coach be allowed to cut a player to retaliate for the mother-board member’s actions?

            That is the allegation/complaint that the district evaluated. Now, the board gets to decide whether the decision not to rehire the coach should be reversed.

          7. David Greenwald

            First I’m not ignoring anything, but I am more concerned about the conduct of an elected official than a coach and believe that the elected official precipitated this.

            It is an indictment and at the moment that Nancy criticized the coach publicly, she took the decision out of her daughter’s hands.

            The coach has to be able to do her job – which is to make sure the team is competitive and that means she has to have the ability to decide who plays and who doesn’t.

            To me the far more important question is the conduct of Peterson rather than whether the board decides to rehire the coach. But I recognize I’m in the minority on that point.

          8. TrueBlueDevil

            Thank you for your logic, David. If the well was poisoned last year, and now we are served bad water this winter (from said well), do we blame the wait staff? Or do we blame the person who spiked the well?

            Recent history has proven that Coach Crawford excels at her sport. Proof of this are her awards from the league. Her assistants support her wholeheartedly, and her players almost unanimously support her. Before the Power Play was unleashed by a well-known broker, her direct superiors were also supportive.

            If we are to believe Nancy Peterson, is everyone else that blind? And as a well-educated individual, why didn’t she follow the set protocol?

          9. The original blue devil

            Please let us not forget that this situation has been going on for the last 4 years. It was just the last three volleyball seasons that it became public because it was time to renew coaching vas’s (this just so happens to be the same time our newest board member was voted in). Lets not forget each time a large number of people have spoken out in support of Coach Crawford, not just once, but every time her credibility has been questioned.

            In fact we know that this board member continually was showing her unhappiness (verbal and non verbal) toward Coach Crawford for the last four years and continually not getting her way (the removal of one head coach from the program and then the removal of Coach Crawford).

            In my opinion, all the people who have stood up for themselves when they have been bullied in this situation have taken the heat, when in fact we should be reprimanding the one person doing the actual bullying.

            How do I know this? I have been watching it first hand from the very start. It is quite disturbing what has gone on, how it was allowed to continue to happen, and how Coach Crawford has been treated horribly both privately and publicly before and even worse after the election .

            This is not new information, however I just don’t understand why it is so hard for people to believe. This is and has been happening for quite awhile folks, its time to stand up to it.

          10. Michelle Millet

            If you have witnessed injustices I encourage you to stand up and speak out against them. Doing so anonymously lessens the credibility of your statements. You say its time to stand up, I suggest you lead by example.

          11. Leigh Whitmire Choate

            sorry my name didn’t originally post.

            I have said this over and over to the ALL levels of administration and nothing was done. I was told “we know she does stuff like this but there is nothing we can do about it”

            I actually filed a formal complaint against Nancy for bullying and harassment last school year and it was investigated by none other than alex sperry. He sided in favor of nancy.

          12. Michelle Millet

            this is a question about whether Coach Crawford engaged in retaliation by cutting the student athlete from the team.

            I guess this is the $22,000 question? Hope the answer was worth it.

    2. TrueBlueDevil

      Define reasonable. One of the handbooks states that the decisions on team makeup are the responsibility of the coach. UC Davis had a men’s basketball player in the D2 days who was 6’11” and played varsity for 3 years. He never played basketball in high school because the coach cut him.

      1. Davis Progressive

        unfortunately we are probably never going to know if it was reasonable, given it took 72 pages and 100 hours, we at least can be assured it might be thorough.

    3. true blue

      with all due respect in my opinion there is a reasonable explanation. However, every single time that explanation is brought up it is considered attacking an athlete. Just because the parents did not like the outcome of the tryout doesn’t mean that the explanation wasn’t reasonable for the athlete not making the team. It means it was just not reasonable enough for them, so they decided to take it to another level and file a complaint.

      1. TrueBlueDevil

        True, I agree with you. Coaches also have to think longer term, bringing in younger Blue Devils onto the team to be next years leaders. You’re correct, her objective statistics are listed at maxpreps. Even her ratios, which make the stats proportional, are at the bottom, or next to bottom, for almost every category.

        Twenty years from now these families will still recall this ugly mess. Imagine if the good doctor had suggested to his daughter and wife to “cut their losses”, and refocus on some new passions, club volleyball, and college admissions. After the previous mess, they had to know that there would be another very public uproar, and given the delayed notification, the parent (Olga Simons) who suggested this as an ambush doesn’t sound crazy.

        (Four videos from the last public meeting.)

      1. TrueBlueDevil

        In the Yahoo Sports article, which links to Maxpreps, there are only about 5 comments. There was one comment that was a classic.

        Danny: “As a coach myself, I start off with this sentence to the parents on our first parent/coach meeting over dinner ‘I don’t come to your house to tell you how to raise your kids, don’t come to my court and tell me how to coach.’ So far, it has been drama free for the past 15 years. =) Coaching, it’s a thankless job, but I love it. =)”

    4. hpierce

      According to procedure, you and/or the athlete should have talked to the coach LONG before a formal complaint was filed. I’ve seen no evidence of this having occurred.

    5. Michelle Millet

      If my child was cut from a team without a reasonable explanation, I would have filed a complaint too.

      I do not question the Peterson’s decision to file a complaint. I question the districts decision to pay $22,000 to investigate the complaint.

  3. iPad Guy

    “David, how much of the cost is for an investigation and how much is for the district to get legal review and advice on proceeding?”

    “That question ends up falling into a realm of attorney-client privilege, so if I had asked for more detail, I would have gotten a lot of blacked out portions of documents.”

    I am not following you here. My question refers only to the hour/rate columns on the table you’ve been showing called, “District Expenditures on the Investigation of Julie Crawford.” Not questioning anything that would be attorney-client privileged, just trying to gain an understanding of what you’re presenting that’s public information.

    Is the title of the table provided by the district or by The Vanguard? Is the white block just a cut-and-paste from the document the district provided? Maybe you could just you post a copy of your request and the district response and provide readers a link?

    We’ve expressed concern and outrage that the investigation and 72-page report cost over $22,000, and we’ve concluded that from the table. Does the table reflect only the cost of the investigation itself?

  4. Phil Coleman

    The Board President’s comments on the 6-hour coach does not remotely compare to what the coach related about his hiring process. He described being put on the payroll, ordering uniforms, and doing some scheduling of practices. This does not sound like a pending hire, pending a Board approval.

    1. TrueBlueDevil

      I concur. My hunch is that Coach Cole was exaggerating his contribution and butthurtness, which seems to be a pattern from one side. The volleyball teammate / friend of the cut player also claimed (in the Enterprise) that no other players or seniors were cut, which has been directly and anonymously refuted as patently false.

    2. Michelle Millet

      I’m assuming since the board needs to approve all hires he would not have been put on the payroll until this happened? The other stuff may just have been eagerness on his part to get started?

  5. iPad Guy

    “That investigation generated a seemingly nuanced finding, in which the investigator apparently concluded it was ‘more likely than not’ that the coach’s decision was ‘at least in part influenced’ by her dispute with the school board member.”

    Nuanced and weak. I’m assuming that you’re still referring to the original Enterprise story. But, then Dunning’s column added a more definite quote from the letter, a reference that I listed yesterday:

    “Dunning includes an interesting addition to the ‘burden of proof’ we’ve been discussing here, noting that the “investigator’s factual conclusion…after weighing the information provided…finds by the preponderance of the evidence….”

    As long as The Vanguard relies on The Enterprise for its understanding of the nuances of the letter, we’re at a disadvantage. Is Dunning reporting accurately about the “preponderance of the evidence”? Still hoping you can get your own copy of the letter from Dr. Peterson.

    1. PhilColeman

      Here’s my take, Mr. IPad, and I hope it helps in your understanding as I’ve struggled a bit here myself (That is NOT intended to be a condescending remark).

      Both Mr. Dunning and Mr. Greenwald are making their analysis and interpretations for the same source document–the summary of investigation letter given to Dr. Peterson. Both gentlemen quote key phrases in support of their understanding of the letter. There are some differences in the respective analyses–I don’t find them all that disparate, but that’s my opinion. You may certainly differ on this point.

      In administrative investigations the legal burden of proof is “preponderance of evidence.” Literally speaking, “more likely than not” is a valid synonym. Another way to say it would be, 50.1% v. 49.9%. That’s how literal “preponderance” can be shaved.

      Mr. Greenwald finds this distinction nuanced and weak. Dunning noted the “factual conclusion,” which is a more compelling term to assign fault to Crawford.

      Now, I’ll jump in and further split the hair. In any employee discipline or termination that risks venturing into the court arena, the employer MUST have a very strong position to justify taking away the livelihood of an employee. For all practical purposes in today’s labor litigation, the employer has the burden of proof to justify the drastic action of termination. Going back to the nebulous phrasing of the summary letter, there is little to support the District having a strong case to justify Crawford’s dismissal.

      1. iPad Guy

        Phil, I always appreciate your views on all matters bureaucratic. I agree with David’s view that we’re dealing with not signing a new contract for an at-will position rather than the drastic act of terminating an employee.

        David’s analysis doesn’t benefit from him seeing the document, and impossible to know whether Dunning’s “preponderance” quote really is accurate, additional information from the letter itself.

        Still, I agree that the district needed to have a strong case and partly because of the history of antagonism and public dispute. That’s why a sizable investigation bill and attention to official process doesn’t seem all that surprising.

        The wording of the letter probably isn’t intended to be as definitive and specific as the investigation itself, so I’m not all that concerned about parsing the language used.

        Confidentiality of 72-page investigation report must be protected. A carefully worded letter to a parent cannot be protected by the district.

        1. Michelle Millet

          Still, I agree that the district needed to have a strong case and partly because of the history of antagonism and public dispute. That’s why a sizable investigation bill and attention to official process doesn’t seem all that surprising.

          Why was it allowed to get to the point that the district needed to spend $22,000 to decide wether a coach, who I believe gets paid $2000/season, inappropriately cut a player from a high school team.

          At a certain point doing the what is in the best interest of the community should come before being right.

          Volunteers have worked very hard in this community to pass 3 parcel taxes is recent years. PTA’s work very hard to raise money for our schools. Local business’ generously donate good and services to support these fundraising efforts.

          Things like this creates large amounts of distrust from the public, undermining the legitimacy of the efforts to raise money for our schools.

          Was it worth it to decides wether or not a student was unfairly cut from a team?

    2. TrueBlueDevil

      Maybe there are multiple authors. It’s possible the report was drafted by the attorney and associate attorney or legal assistant, and the cover / summary was written by the insider counsel. That’s another potential question.

  6. TrueBlueDevil

    I think it would be a relevant question, and not privileged information, to know how many complaints the Petersons (and any proxy) have filed the past 3 years. If it is 2, that might be reasonable to some. If it is 6 or 7, that may allude to other issues.

    I believe the original email correspondence to the law firm should be requested. This could reveal who made that original contact, and if there was a potential bias. (If a student’s name was mentioned, it can be redacted.) After the Coach Cole-Peterson connection, we can’t take anything for granted, especially since both Peterson’s have been harboring these grievances for at least a year. I now include Dr. Peterson after watching his 2-minute youtube clip where he refers to the Board making the wrong decision last year. (Four videos were embedded into a Blue Devil student newspaper story last week. The students did a great job.)

    1. David Greenwald

      “I believe the original email correspondence to the law firm should be requested. ”

      That is not going to happen. The district will claim attorney client privilege and withhold it and I doubt any court would overturn it. The best we know is that it was an administrative level decision. As Gina’s response suggests, it is not unreasonable that the district go outside to investigate a complaint that involves a school board member or her family.

  7. hpierce

    Find this all reminding me of my senior year playing tennis. We had a ‘ladder’ system, where you had to beat the other players to get the higher spot. My friend and I consistently won against all but one player, and my friend and I were pretty darn “even”. Coach decided that we would deny us playing singles, as he wanted to develop a sophomore. One who we each beat most of the time. So much for the fairness of a “system”. The good news is my friend and I were pretty awesome in doubles, and won 6 of seven matches, including beating the team where every player also were part of a tennis club, coached by semi-pros. That win was especially precious, as a kinda’ in your face to “coach”. The kid who took our place in singles was 3 of 7 (also precious). Neither my friend nor I dwelled on the situation, complained to our parents, nor thought of bringing the unfairness we experienced to the administrators. We did like humiliating our coach by our successes, though, and just had a wonderful time, playing a sport we loved (and avoiding regular PE, as we were on a HS team).

    Last time I heard, being cut from a team doesn’t mean you can’t play a sport, but it might mean you won’t get your name or photo in the local newspaper. Too bad, so sad.

  8. Davis Progressive

    i think this is all ridiculous. a school district that has had fiscal trouble and cannot afford to purchase health insurance is spending $22000 to determine if a coach should have cut a player. that is the height of absurdity.

    we can’t get straight answers here because it is veiled behind a wall of secrecy of personnel stuff.

    fine. nancy peterson needs to resign. the school board needs to seriously look at winfred roberson, matt best, and the athletic director.

    HEADS NEED TO ROLL over this.

    1. wdf1

      In there district budget, I know that there is a line item for legal fees, and that it is a contingency item, and it is not funded by the school parcel tax. Some years more is spent, some years less. But there are almost always some legal action or complaint that the district is dealing with. This particular instance happens to be more public than most. Usually some indication of what legal action is going on is found in the closed session agenda. It is never very specific as to what legal action it is, though.

      1. Michelle Millet

        I understand your point. What I question is wether it was appropriate to spend these appropriated funds, which I am sure are limited, on this particular issue or wether they should have been reserved for more pressing legal issues that the district may face.

    2. SouthofDavis

      Davis Progressive wrote:

      > a school district that has had fiscal trouble and cannot afford to purchase
      > health insurance is spending $22000 to determine if a coach should have
      > cut a player. that is the height of absurdity.

      I’m betting that 95% of Davis thinks the same thing…

  9. growth issue

    I just love sending in my property taxes that included several DJUSD school parcel taxes knowing that my hard earned money is going towards a wasteful $22,000 investigation of why a volleyball player was cut from a team. If anything good comes out of this maybe it will be Davis residents finally waking up to say no to anymore school parcel taxes.

  10. hpierce

    Thinking about it again, if the athlete graduates in June, this whole prolongation of the discussion seems to be “payback” to the coach (vendetta?), or looking for lessons learned.

    1. SouthofDavis

      The Blue Devil Hub says:

      “Crawford, who also coaches the DHS women’s volleyball team, was dismissed from that job last June, despite the fact that she was the reigning Delta Valley Conference coach of the year.”

      The Vergara lawsuit going on right now mentioned a “teacher of the year” that was laid off (and a bunch of other stuff).

      In 2012 The Huffington Post wrote: “Michelle Apperson, recently awarded the title of “Teacher of the Year” for the Sacramento City Unified School District, has lost her job.”

      I wonder if the other “teachers of the year” had a board member mad at them?

  11. TrueBlueDevil

    The original blue devil – are you saying that Nancy Peterson tried to get the former volleyball coach removed, as well? Was she a big portion of her leaving the program?

    If yes, can you recall what her problem was with the previous coach, and if Peterson wasn’t on the school board, what perceived power did she have?

    1. the original blue devil

      yes, that is exactly what I am saying.

      When I was the varsity coach in 2010 nancy was my assistant, coach Crawford was the jv coach, and there was another woman coaching the frosh team. Nancy’s daughter never played for this frosh coach, yet one of nancy’s friends daughter did and she was very unhappy with how the season was going and unhappy with the coach. It was at that time that nancy approached me asking me to remove the coach and I said no. The next year and after over 23 years of coaching, I retired from coaching at dhs mostly because my daughter was going to start attending DHS and she is a volleyball player. Coach Crawford became the varsity coach and the frosh coach moved up to the jv position. Nancy then approached coach Crawford, a little more firmly and wanted the coach removed, you could very much say that she was picking on Julie because she is younger and a new coach. Julie stood her ground and said no. The jv coach remained until she finally resigned for personal reasons two girls seasons ago. When nancy did not get her way is when it started to turn ugly. She was not on the board at the time but she was heavily involved with the Blue and White Foundation. She used blue and white information inappropriately at a parent meeting for vb ( I was there to witness) and full on verbally attacked coach Crawford at the meeting. It then just got worse from there. Lots of bogus complaints, watching Crawford’s every move with a microscope looking for things to complain about or anything that would help remove her from her coaching position. She tried many times and complained constantly to remove her and was chirping in many an administrators ear on how horrible she thought coach Crawford was.

      The volleyball community is very connected, this was not only going on inside the district, but outside the district in club volleyball as well. Nancy was badmouthing Julie all over town and there were people that were continually asking why. This whole time myself, coach Crawford and the other coach asked for help from the administration at the district level and it fell upon deaf ears. Site level administration did their best by continuing to be supportive and by signing vas’s for her to continue coaching. This whole time Crawford earned positive coaching evaluations every single year. Not to mention winning records, playoff appearances, and coaching recognition from the leave and her players. Site admin hands were tied as they were powerless to the board as soon as nancy was made a board member. When she became a board member that is exactly the time that the problem with the vas’s started to happen. It is not a coincidence. This continued to escalate and here we are.

      All during this time, Nancy made it very difficult for Julie to be left alone to do her job and be a coach. She was always watching and taking notes at all games, she was taking stats on players from the stands, and her physical presence was both intimidating and rude/mean.

      It got so bad at one point, and in my opinion Nancy was bullying my daughter (a sophomore at the time, she plays for the DHS program and will try out again in the fall) and other players and parents that supported Crawford. I finally filed a formal complaint about Nancy with the district regarding this behavior. There were others that were afraid to speak up and one parent even said to me, “I don’t wan to say anything for fear my daughter will be treated like yours”. As you can probably guess, my complaint went in favor of nancy and nothing happened after that. The investigator that was in charge of my complaint was Alex Sperry. To my knowledge he only interviewed myself, my daughter, and Nancy. IMO it was a he said she said experience and I guess that I didn’t hold as much power as a board member.

      It is finally to a point that I am able to speak up because I am no longer in Davis and I am on a leave of absence from DHS. I am not afraid of losing my job anymore if I speak up. That is just the quick version of this ongoing issue.

      the two times that Crawford’s job has been up for grabs due to this mess and people were interviewed , two coaches that applied for the job were peterson kids club coaches. This whole thing has been in the works for quite some time.

      I will not go into detail regarding the cut player this last girls season, but there was a very good reason she was cut and it was not because of her mom.

      -leigh whitmire choate

      1. TrueBlueDevil

        Leigh, thank you for your enlightening response. This confirms some of my suspicions, and adds new details. I’ll just ask a couple of questions, and feel free to answer or not answer them as you see fit. There is an old saying, “There but for the grace of God go I.”

        Do you think any players would testify to the odd behavior / harassment that Coach Crawford and yourself endured?

        Did Nancy Peterson’s behavior push you to take a leave from DHS?

        Did you feel like (or know) there was any existing friendship between Alex Sperry and the Petersons?

        Is there any chance the current players would sign a petition or such admitting to the hostile environment created by Nancy Peterson?

        1. Leigh Whitmire Choate

          I do think that athletes will talk. Students have been trying but it has gone unheard.

          Nancy’s treatment of me and my family in part has something to do with the reason that I am on leave.

          I don’t know if the Petersons and Alex Sperry are connected any way other than he did both investigations.

          I do think people would sign a petition.

      2. PhilColeman

        Seismologists at UC Berkeley just reported an 8.6 earthquake in the Davis area.

        First off, Leigh, never met you, don’t know you, and I say this even if everything you just revealed is shown to be a complete fabrication. It took incredible courage for you to abandon your alias and then detail your uniquely positioned view on the Volleyball coach debate. You have a ton more guts than I would ever hope to claim.

        Nobody can ignore or counter one indisputable fact. Ms. Choate certainly provides a lot of new information previously left to blind speculation. She gave a tight chronology of relevant events on who, what, and when, the kind of material can be researched and substantiated. Ironically, we might be seeing another $22K investigation of the same school policy violation by another employee.

        Most important, this portrayal is in the context of multiple persons having witnessed key elements of Choate’s story. Interviews of these persons will lend credence or refute the disturbing allegations shown here. I have a sense that Leigh will provide a list of potential witnesses.

        Finally, a hopefully, not futile, plea for anybody else reading this thread. Suspend the construction of the gallows for Boardmember Peterson. Please hold such efforts until she has an opportunity to reply. She’s a human being with feelings and deserves a moment of restraint. Don’t mimic a behavior that allegedly exists in somebody else, and finds you doing the same thing–being mean-spirited and spiteful.

        1. TrueBlueDevil

          I agree. Moreover, Ms. Choate is showing our young people how to stand up for themselves, and our brothers and sisters.

          I don’t understand the complete ramifications of this, but it sure looks like there could be a pattern of this kind of uncivilized behavior. Is DJUSD aware of this potential for a District leader to create a hostile working environment? If 2 strong women only begrudgingly come forward, might there be more low-key employees afraid to report their concerns?

          While no one wants to drag them into it, if student leader(s) stepped forward to relay what they witnessed first hand, that would be difficult to brush under the rug.

          Can we learn if Alex Sperry interviewed any team members or assistant coaches?

          1. Matt Williams

            TrueBlueDevil, is there a reason why you are not following Ms. Choate’s excellent example yourself? It appears that you are showing young people how to stand behind the veil of anonymity and in the process are not standing up for yourself, or your brothers and sisters.

          2. Grassroots

            TrueBlueDevil, I agree it is important to show students how to stand up for themselves but more important is to show them better ways to solve their problems, for example Restorative Justice. This is certainly the kind of situation that is divisive and harmful to Davis as a whole. There can only be losers. As a citizen of Davis who has participated in Restorative Justice (RJ) through the Neighborhood Court Program, I am hoping that the Davis School District will not only use its mandated process but also employ RJ, a process to have the offender(s) take responsibility for and fix the harm(s) done to the victim(s), and to restore money lost. RJ would be good for Peterson and Crawford. The effects will ripple through out the hearts and minds of our residents demonstrating to our youth a more effective way to solve our problems and leaving our community healed and more safe. Please help carry this idea forward.

          3. Davis Progressive

            while i like what you say, i hope this doesn’t become a way to get peterson off the hook here.

          1. Don Shor

            According to the Yolo County Clerk’s office, there were 43,138 registered voters in the 2012 DJUSD election. Recall petition, if I understand the site correctly, requires # of signatures equal to 20% of that number. So I guess 8,628 signatures would put a recall on the ballot. It seems they have 120 days to get the signatures, and then a couple of things have to happen, and then “The election shall be held not less than 88, nor more than 125, days after the issuance of the order, and if a regular or special election is to be held throughout the electoral jurisdiction of the officer sought to be recalled within this time period, the recall election shall be held on the same day, and consolidated with, the regular or special election.” So, four months max to get signatures, 3 months +/- to election thereafter.
            Somebody who actually knows this stuff should check my analysis:‎

  12. Robin W

    David, You suggest that it would not be possible to get the communications between the district and Sperry re the investigation because of attorney-client communication privilege. I beg to differ if Sperry’s investigation is being used to justify the decision not to renew Crawford’s VSA, which is my understanding of what has been published in a The Enterprise and on the Vanguard blog. Either Sperry was acting as an independent investigator in performing the investigation (in which case nothing about the investigation is covered by attorney-client privilege) or he was advising the district as an attorney (in which case he was not conducting an independent investigation, and any conclusions and report cannot be used in court as support for the action taken against Crawford). If Crawford sued and the district tried to rely on the $22,000 report as justification for its action, no court would allow the district to also claim attorney-client privilege re the report or any other communications between the district and Sperry re this matter. This is one reason many lawyers would never undertake to do a purported “independent” investigation of a workplace dispute for an existing client. Furthermore, Matt Best’s action in “summarizing” Sperry’s report and giving that summary to Dr Peterson could also have waived any attorney-client privilege that might otherwise exist. (I can’t be sure of the latter since I have not seen the “summary.”)

    1. TrueBlueDevil

      Another bombshell? Lotta legal meat there for David Greenwald and Bob Dunning to chew on.

      I relayed the summary letter and report synopsis issue with a seasoned lawyer. He complimented your thought process, and said the summary letter has no attorney-client privilege, and it’s possible the whole 72-page report might not, either. A search for case law might answer that question. Do the personnel confidentiality rules then kick in?

    2. Davis Progressive

      part of the problem is that you have overlapping rationale for not releasing the documents. first, they can claim attorney client privilege. second, they can claim it’s a personnel record. you correctly point out the rules of discovery but fail to differentiate between evidence code and the public records act. the public records act is extremely weak in California and would enable the district to effectively block the release of the documents under various exemptions for personnel, legal, and the deliberative process catch all.

  13. Grassroots

    This is certainly the kind of situation that is divisive and harmful to Davis as a whole. There can only be losers. As a citizen of Davis who has participated in Restorative Justice (RJ) through the Neighborhood Court Program, I am hoping that the Davis School District will employ that process to have the offender(s) take responsibility for and fix the harm(s) done to the victim(s), and to restore money lost. RJ would be good for Peterson and Crawford. The effects will ripple through out the hearts and minds of our residents demonstrating to our youth a more effective way to solve our problems and leaving our community healed and more safe. Please help carry this idea forward.

    1. PhilColeman

      Nice sentiment and fascinating idea. Now, imagine a governmental body, already lawyered up, under siege, surrendering its individual and collective political fate to a panel of randomly chosen citizens—never happens.

  14. wdf1

    Vanguard: ‘Board President Gina Daleiden told the Vanguard late Tuesday, “It’s important to remember that employees are not ‘hired’ until the Board votes to approve employment.”’

    The school board maybe approving the hiring of Duer and Friend tonight (Thursday, 2/20/14), as their names are listed in the personnel report for approval under the consent calendar.

    1. PhilColeman

      Ok, I’ll fully subscribe to Gina’s admonishment that “It’s important to remember.” Here is what I remember concerning the coach who was hired, but not really hired.

      Wasn’t there some kind of official announcement from the School District naming this coach as a new hire? If my failing memory failed me again, I’ll apologize. Who has a better memory of this particular event?

  15. TrueBlueDevil

    “In the case of the Davis High boys volleyball team, the truth continues to be stranger than fiction.

    “Nine days after Julie Crawford was told by DHS administrators that she would not be asked back for her fourth year as Blue Devil boys coach — and one day after the school board agreed to hear her appeal of a school district finding that she violated board policy in the fall — the district hired Rob Cole as its new boys volleyball coach on Friday. Then, district administrators changed their minds six hours later.”

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