School Board’s Role in Crawford Scandal

volleyballby Michelle Millet

We learned this week that Julie Crawford, who has coached both the boys’ and girls’ volleyball teams at Davis High School since 2011, would not be offered the position of head coach of the boys’ team this spring.

As I’ve read public comment in both the Vanguard and the Davis Enterprise, it is clear that there is a lot of confusion about the role the school board played in this controversial decision, as well as in other decisions that have been made over the past year regarding Crawford’s employment status as the coach of both the boys’ and girls’ high school volley ball teams.

The confusion is understandable, given the way coaches in the district are hired.

Coaches positions are not tenured, so while Crawford is a full time PE teacher at the high school, she must reapply for her position as head coach of both the girls’ and boys’ volleyball teams separately each season. The principal and athletic director recommend coaches for school teams, then submit these recommendations to the school board for approval. The school board approves what is called a variable service agreement (VSA) for the length of the season. VSAs typically come up for renewal around 30 days before the start of the season.  It appears to be standard procedure for all VSA recommendations to be put on the school board’s consent calendar where they are typically approved as group.

At the heart of the controversy are the actions of School Board Member Nancy Peterson, whose daughter played on Crawford’s team for the last 3 seasons, but who was cut from the team this fall. While it is true that Peterson attempted to block the renewal of Crawford’s VSA to coach the boys’ team last February, and the girls’ team last June, what is not so clear, and what there seems to be a lot of public confusion over, is the role the rest of school board members played in this matter.

Some of this confusion was made clear to me in the following factually incorrect comment made by an anonymous blogger on the Vanguard yesterday.

“In Spring of 2013 she {Nancy Peterson} presented a one-sided complaint to the other 4 board members who took her at her word and they in turn inappropriately decided to not renew Crawford’s contract. Only after there was a public outcry and the other 4 board members decided to listen to a broad range of opinions on the matter, they reversed course but still allowed Peterson to vote on the issue.”

In order to help clear up public misconceptions regarding this situation, and better understand the school boards role in it, I put together the following timeline of events starting from last February.

In February 2013, Crawford’s VSA to coach the boys volleyball team was placed on the consent calendar of the school board agenda. Trustee Nancy Peterson requested that Crawford’s VSA be pulled from the consent calendar so that her contract could be discussed and voted on separately.  Ultimately, Crawford’s VSA would be renewed by a 3-2 vote, with Board Members Gina Daleiden and Nancy Peterson casting the dissenting votes.

This action provoked a strong letter to the editor by former DHS football coach Dave Whitmire who wrote, “Some members of the Board of Education in Davis are using their power to micro-manage the athletic program at Davis High. Coaches and other district employees are afraid to say anything in support of a coach for fear of losing their jobs. This is a blatant abuse of power.”

On June 27 2013 a press release was sent out by the district office announcing that Crawford would not be returning as head coach of the girl’s volleyball team that fall.  Davis High Athletic Director Dennis Foster reported to the Enterprise that he and Davis Schools Personnel Chief Matt Best made the decision not to submit Crawford’s VSA to the school board for approval. He did not comment on a reason, citing that it was “a confidential personnel matter.”

Crawford, according to an Enterprise article, got a call from Foster the previous Monday informing her that her fall variable services agreement would not be submitted to the school board for renewal.

“At this point I have no idea why I am not being asked back as varsity volleyball coach,” the DHS physical education teacher told the Enterprise. “I was completely unaware that I was not going to be asked back,” she said. “I have had two very successful seasons in a row as head coach and, most recently, was selected as coach of the year.

In addition, Crawford pointed out that she had received positive post-season evaluations from Foster, including one that lauded her for “developing a culture in the girls volleyball program where the young ladies feel connected to one another and their community.”

On July 17 2013, after a two-hour closed discussion, the school board voted, in open session, to reverse the earlier administrative decision made by Dennis Foster and Matt Best, and rehire Crawford as the DHS Girls volleyball coach for the upcoming fall season.  Trustees Sheila Allen, Gina Daleiden and Susan Lovenburg voted in favor and Nancy Peterson dissented. Trustee Tim Taylor  participated in the discussion via conference call, but was not on the line the when the vote occurred.

In her dissent Peterson cited a passage from the school district’s handbook for coaches regarding “integrity,” and added, “My vote reflects nothing more than my continued pursuit of ideals centered on children. I cannot in good conscience vote to approve Ms. Crawford as a coach for young adults.”

On Feb 11 2014 the Davis Enterprise reported that Crawford was told last Wednesday by Davis High Principal Will Brown, that she would not be coaching boys’ volleyball this season. She claims she was told that, while Will Brown and Dennis Foster signed her VSA “it was pulled at the district level prior to the (Jan. 23) board meeting.”

Davis School Board President Gina Daleiden confirmed that “the board has not been briefed on this matter. We expect to receive information from the superintendent at the Feb. 20th meeting. At this point, this is all coming from the administration.”

Mr. Roberson referred questions from the Vanguard to Matt Best, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources & Secondary Programs at Davis Joint Unified School District.

“I know that that you both have received many inquiries regarding DSHS Mens’ Volleyball. Please feel free to reference the District’s statement below regarding this matter,” the statement read.  “We understand the angst that the players and parents in the Boys’ Volleyball program may feel this week. We value our Boys’ Volleyball team, and expect to have a coach in place to work with the team as it prepares to start the season.”

The statement continued, “We have been asked several times this week ‘what is going on with the coach?’”

“It is DJUSD’s legal and ethical practice to strictly maintain employee privacy and confidentiality in personnel matters,” the statement continued.  “As a result we are unable to comment on those matters.  As a public entity, we also have various personnel and administrative procedures to follow, even with ‘at-will’ coaching positions.  Those procedures are in place to protect all parties and to give people an opportunity to respond.”

They concluded, ”Sometimes adherence to these procedures causes delay and unintended interruptions with respect to the District’s day-to-day workings and hiring timelines.  We will continue to do everything in our power to ameliorate those effects.”

On Feb 13 2014 the Enterprise reported that they obtained a letter summarizing a investigative report that was triggered by a complaint filed by Rob Peterson, Nancy Peterson’s husband, on Sept 3, after their daughter was cut from the girls’ volleyball team this fall. Their daughter had played for Crawford for the last 3 seasons and reportedly was the only returning player not to make the team.

The report concluded that ”more likely than not, Coach Crawford’s decision to cut Peterson’s daughter from the varsity volleyball team was influenced, at least in part, by Coach Crawford’s feelings about Nancy Peterson.”

“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.”

Also on occurring on Feb 13 2014, after a nearly three-hour closed session meeting, Sheila Allen, Gina Daleiden, Susan Lovenburg, and Tim Taylor voted in favor of hearing an appeal from Julie Crawford. According School Board President Gina Daleiden, “Nancy Peterson was absent because she recused herself from public comment, closed session and voting on this matter.”

Reading from a statement after the meeting, Daleiden also announced  “The Board will continue, at public Board meetings, to address the overarching issues under the Athletic Policies and Regulations.”

The statement continued, “The District and Davis High School will continue their efforts to identify and secure an interim coach for Boys Volleyball as soon as possible.”

Daleiden also stated that the board hopes to set a hearing on the appeal on or before the regularly scheduled March 6 school board meeting and, “In the meantime, the Board encourages the parties to come together to find a reasonable resolution that is in the best interest of the students and the School District.”

What this timeline makes clear is that every official decision to not rehire Crawford has always come from the district level. While Nancy Peterson, acting as a school board trustee, twice tried to block the renewal of Crawford’s VSA, the School Board has never voted to fire Julie Crawford or remove her as head coach of either the boys’ or girls’ volleyball teams. In fact, every vote the School Board has made so far on this matter had been in Crawford’s favor.

Hopefully, clarification of the facts regarding this confusing sequence of events will help move the public discourse on this issue in a more productive direction then it is currently taking. I also hope that that the school board and school administrators can work together in finding ways to avoid a similar situation occurring in the future for while it may never be clear to the public who is most at fault here, it’s unfortunate to see our student athletes pay the price for adults in their life, whoever they may be, acting badly.

About The Author

Michelle Millet is a 25-year resident of Davis. She currently serves as the Chair of the Natural Resource Commission.

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86 Comments

  1. Phil Coleman

    “What this time line makes clear is that every official decision to not rehire Crawford has always come from the district level.”

    About as clear as mud. If the district (administrative officials) were of the mind NOT to retain Crawford, she would not have received laudatory performance appraisals. Nor would these same administrators signed off on the proposed contract for her continued retention as volleyball coach.

    And as far as the term, “official decision” is concerned in the above quote, that wording suggests that the Board–as a body–is less accountable for this fiasco. In the process, Peterson is being tossed under the proverbial Davis School District bus. I’ll defend Peterson only from the perspective she does bear further scruitny, but so does the rest of the Board.

    True enough, School Board member Peterson made numerous family-interest “official decisions,” pulling the contract from the consent calender, voting against Crawford’s continued employment, and publicly questioning Crawford’s integrity. The Board’s response: At one juncture, the Board voting showed some measure of support for Peterson’s attempts to get rid of Crawford. Then there was a shift in voting results after a public outcry. In a related episode, another Board member conveniently made himself absent following discussion and before a final vote was called. This was hardly the Board’s finest hour.

    Did any other Board member ever say during this protracted episode, “Nancy, chill, you’re embarrassing us all.”? Apparently not, and for which every board member must now be publicly accountable. It wasn’t just Nancy at fault here.

    There’s only one way to resolve this latest school board soap opera. Ms. Crawford should publish a full waiver of her rights to personnel confidentally, followed by a public plea for the release of ALL written information regarding her performance, including the investigation report (not just the ambiguous findings). Mr. Peterson saw fit to improperly publicize the summation of the Crawford investigation because it appeared to serve his family’s interests. Let’s all see the entire investigation and allow Crawford’s representative to cross-examine the investigator.

    No longer having the convenience of “can’t talk about that,” thanks to Crawford’s signed waiver, each Board member can now step forth and speak freely to the media on their individual roles and responsibility in this saga.

    1. SODA

      Agree with Phil’s comments completely. The Board has a role in this, not the least of which is based on prior episodes of coachs’ difficulties with the hiring/firing process, the Board should have provided direction to the administration on improving the process, etc. Michele, with all due respect, I think you are giving the Board an unwarranted pass on this, especially the Board leadership at the time. The role of the Board is NOT to micromanage, but is to provide oversight, ‘supervise’ ethical handling of policy issues, and if policy needs changing, to be proactive.

      1. wdf1

        J.B.: In addition, this whole situation gives us a window into what kind of Council member Sheila Allen is likely to be. Where is the oversight? Where is the ethical guidance? where is the proactivity?

        It takes three votes to make something happen on the school board.

        This Thursday there is a school board agenda item on the issue: Link

        A good opportunity to make your views known in public comment or by e-mail if it’s an issue that is important to you.

    2. iPad Guy

      “About as clear as mud. If the district (administrative officials) were of the mind NOT to retain Crawford, she would not have received laudatory performance appraisals. Nor would these same administrators signed off on the proposed contract for her continued retention as volleyball coach.”

      Whatever “laudatory performance appraisals” from the athletic director and/or principal might be in the coaches files, it appears that the decision not to offer another contract is based on the specific actions and ethics issues covered by the investigation. The “district level” being described is the superintendent’s office, I think, not the high school level.

      I don’t think your idea of full disclosure waiver by the coach will serve a useful purpose. You probably know better, but I’d question whether the government body could accept such a waiver.

      Even if an employee waiver could require the district to give up confidential employee records, such disclosure would just provide grist for more arguments. David observed earlier that there likely could be some gray areas involved.

      Assessing definitive guilt and innocence of the various players likely is an impossible task even is every piece of documentation is produced and all parties get questioned under oath. And, in the end, what value will there be?

      No one involved comes across in a very positive light. We’ve got a family and an employee fighting for their rights, an institution that can’t get its act together with management that can’t come to agreement and an elected body that can’t seem to provide oversight.

      Nothing can fix the damage that has been done. The worst thing for everyone involved would be to keep this episode dragging on to assess more blame. The best we can hope is that lessons learned bring changes that keep this kind of mess from happening again.

      1. TrueBlueDevil

        One Step is to find out who funded this supposedly “independent” investigation. Lawyers for this type of case probably charge $300-500 per hour. Who paid for this “investigation”? And was Coach Crawford and her selection team (the team that selected the volleyball team) interviewed? It sounds like Coach Crawford was trying to be above board, while Nancy Peterson went for the jugular for the third time. If a government body paid for this “investigation”, a Freedom of Information Act” request (FOIA) should provide some information. And WHO provided the lawyer? I know that the lawyer named has done work for the UC Davis Medical System, and I know that Nancy Peterson’s husband is a doctor.

    3. growth issue

      I totally agree with Phil Coleman’s assessment.

      Does anyone know who found and hired the investigator? This might be of some interest. It’s also my understanding that the Peterson child only played for two years with Crawford as coach as she was cut this year.

      1. TrueBlueDevil

        Great question. Alexander M. Sperry is the lawyer hired (Van Dermyden Maddux Law Corporation, Sacramento). He has done work for the UC Davis Health System, according to his own website. Is it possible that he was referred by Dr. Peterson and his wife?

        There is NO QUESTION that Nancy Peterson is driving this train.

          1. iPad Guy

            I can barely wait for new, verifiable facts. Seriously.

            I hope you can find something definitive about whether Dr. Peterson violated the law if he shared his letter.

            Reviewed your past criticism of the investigators who get called in to quash investigations.

            Ironic that your old research actually adds to the credibility of the supposed findings of the complaint investigation of Coach Crawford’s actions.

            Rather that clear the school district and its personnel, the Sacramento firm found in favor of the complainant. Nothing swept under the rug here.

          2. David Greenwald

            I’m searching for answers, so there is no irony. I still think the investigation was pretty watered down in their findings.

          3. TrueBlueDevil

            Interesting that lawyer Alexander Sperry is not a licensed private investigator. But he works for one.

            Why not hire the licensed PI to do the investigation? And does Mr. Sperry have any familiarity with athletics?

      2. Michelle Millet

        It’s also my understanding that the Peterson child only played for two years with Crawford as coach as she was cut this year.

        My understanding of what I read, was that she played for Crawford for 3 seasons, starting her Freshman year, and was cut this year, I’m assuming this is her senior year.

    4. Michelle Millet

      And as far as the term, “official decision” is concerned in the above quote, that wording suggests that the Board–as a body–is less accountable for this fiasco.

      What I tried to do in this piece is clarify what “officially” the school board was responsible for doing. I realize that many unofficial things could have been happening, but I wanted to make a clear distinction between the two.

  2. iPad Guy

    Excellent job, Michelle, summarizing the history involved here. It’s helpful to have this in one place, unfiltered by all the hard feelings that understandably pop up.

    I wonder about one thing. Your description of the process shows the principal and athletic director submitting their recommendations for coach VSAs to the school board for approval. Doesn’t this leave out a critical step?

    I would think that the superintendent would be involved–first, in deciding on the recommendations and, second, in submitting those he approves to the board for final, usually routine, okay.

    The superintendent’s role seems to be implied by Coach Crawford’s claim in The Enterprise that Principal Brown told her that his recommendation was “pulled at the district level.”

          1. SODA

            I would think in this instance, Roberson would have wanted to be involved since so tricky. If he didn’t then think he should have.

          2. iPad Guy

            Agree, SODA. Either way, the superintendent is responsible for the personnel decisions. And, for handling the job in a way that protects students and teachers and minimizes public drama.

          3. Phil Coleman

            ” Either way, the superintendent is responsible for the personnel decisions.”

            That’s the way it SHOULD be, but it’s not. Otherwise, the Superintendent would hire, manage, and fire athletic coaches with input from his subordinate staff. The Board should never have the authority to be the final say in hiring or firing of anybody except the Superintendent.

          4. iPad Guy

            Very interesting. Sounds like someone speaking from experience with an organization that operates the right way, say, a city council, for instance.

            How much of this could have been avoided if all parties saw the superintendent as the person with the authority and responsibility?

            Instead, he sort of makes the decisions and everyone views the school board as the real authority. So, will the board overrule him in this case?

          5. Michelle Millet

            So it we go up the chain of command, we have the athletic director, the school principal, the personal director, the superintendent, then the school board?

    1. Michelle Millet

      If I was a real reporter, (needless to say, and what is probably quickly apparent, I am not one), I would have called the district and figured out the exact hiring procedures, I have some questions about the process as well.

      This piece was put together quickly based solely on information I was able to get from local media coverage, because I thought it would be useful, like you said to have all the fact in one place. There are many holes that I’m sure could be filled with people more knowledge about how the process works.

  3. growth issue

    I hope at some point that Ms. Crawford can tell her story because so far we’ve only heard leaked info from the other side. In all fairness she should be able to publicly defend herself.

    1. Michelle Millet

      I’m not sure, but I believe Crawford is allowed to tell her story.

      If I was her I might choose not to though. There is a lot of mud slinging going on, even if she is clean, she would get mud on her just by entering the public forum.

      1. Michelle Millet

        I hope Crawford receives a fair decision by the school board when they hear here appeal.

        I will add, if she has been unjustly targeted I regret that she has been put through any of this, much less be forced to defend her action through an appeal.

      2. iPad Guy

        Correct. Coach Crawford has the right to tell her story and already has chosen to do it by appealing the superintendent’s decision and by talking with The Enterprise reporter. She decided not to continue when she turned down an interview with The Vanguard.

        You worry too much, hpierce. She must have tenure*.
        ________
        *See rabble-rousing article on this topic in today’s Vanguard.

  4. growth issue

    “In her dissent Peterson cited a passage from the school district’s handbook for coaches regarding “integrity,” and added, “My vote reflects nothing more than my continued pursuit of ideals centered on children. I cannot in good conscience vote to approve Ms. Crawford as a coach for young adult.”

    So if this how Nancy Peterson feels why did she let her daughter try out for the next year’s team?

    1. TrueBlueDevil

      It sounds like she likes the drama. And maybe she wanted another bite at the apple.

      There may also be the possibility of a lawsuit here, which may include causes of action including intentional interference with prospective economic relations (her job as volleyball coach), and defamation.

      On top of that, I think the school district, human resources, or such, should find out who leaked this confidential “investigative” memo to The Enterprise. Unnamed sources have claimed that Dr. Peterson leaked it to the media; if so, where did he get it from? Did he pay for the lawyer?

        1. Michelle Millet

          Leigh I basically was trying to compile a timeline of facts that I gathered from the Enterprise and Vanguard. I didn’t want to put anything in that I wasn’t able to confirm, so my guess it that many other details are missing.

          1. Michelle Millet

            Again I’m sure there are a lot of missing details. My intention was to compile factual information that has been publicly reported on in multiple pieces into one piece.

            I hope that the holes in this piece can be filled by those who know more details and are willing to share them.

  5. DT Businessman

    I’m not sure how many of the VG readers have for profit, non-profit, or governmental board experience, but if the account and timeline in the article are correct, flawed governance underlies the entire scandal. The very first step in February 2013 is a major foul.

    How the heck can Peterson vote on the consent calendar item, let alone PULL THE ITEM? Peterson should not even be in the room. And how can the rest of the Board members, individually and collectively, sit idly by as she was doing it? All of the Board members should have been calling a point of order. Were none of the Board members aware that Peterson’s child played or had played on the team? From there, the Board and Peterson repeated the foul over and over again.

    Imagine this were happening on the City Council where a CC member was repeatedly pulling consent items and voting on them wherein he/she had a vested interest? I’m quite sure the VG would be going ballistic.

    PS: If the account and timeline are inaccurate, I pull my comment.

    -Michael Bisch

    1. Mark West

      The actions of the Board Member in February 2013 was a clear (moral) conflict of interest and a blatant abuse of power. It was incumbent upon the rest of the Board, particularly the Board President, to stop the abuse and prevent it from reoccurring. They did not do so.

      Where was the appropriate standard of governance from this Board?

      The fact that this has been allowed to continue for more than a year, with no sign that any Member of the Board recognizes their complicity, suggests that none of these Board Members understands their responsibility to the community. Now that one of them wants to be on the City Council, we need to ask if this is the standard of governance we want for the City?

      1. iPad Guy

        “It was incumbent upon the rest of the Board, particularly the Board President, to stop the abuse and prevent it from reoccurring. They did not do so.”

        Actually, it is not reoccurring. The board member is not a participant this time around. Not that any of them should be given a lot of credit for adapting in the face of overwhelming public pressure.

    2. Michelle Millet

      The very first step in February 2013 is a major foul. How the heck can Peterson vote on the consent calendar item, let alone PULL THE ITEM? Peterson should not even be in the room. And how can the rest of the board sit idly by as she was doing it? All of the board members should have been calling a point of order

      I share your sentiment, and I am little baffled about how this event in particular played out, and troubled by it. IMO if a board member has a complaint against a coach that their child plays for they should follow the same procedure as any other parent would follow. Once the complaint was filed she should have recused herself anytime a decision on Crawford’s employment as a coach was being made. Not sure why this didn’t happen and why no one else on the school board objected when it didn’t.

  6. DT Businessman

    I should also point out that the inclusion of the statement prefaced by ”more likely than not” is very troubling. It’s conjecture, which means it might be true or it might not be. Had there been evidence to support the claim, there would be no need to preface the comment with ”more likely than not”. Can you imagine a governing body making decision after decision based on consultant reports starting with ”more likely than not”? I.e. “We don’t have any evidence to support policy or project, but it kind of feels right.”

    One can only hope that there is some solid underlying evidence in the report upon which the district and the board is acting upon.

    -Michael Bisch

  7. DT Businessman

    Having competed and coached at a competitive level for decades, having a parent at odds with a coach is a nightmare for the coach, the players, the other parents, team supporters and anyone else involved. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to have a parent at odds with the coach who is also higher up the chain of command.

    For all I know, the parent in this instance has a legitimate complaint, but then it’s incumbent upon her to set priorities. Which is more important? Being a board member or being a parent of an athlete? You cannot act on both as the roles are clearly in conflict. It is incumbent upon the parent/board member to make a choice. And splitting duties with a spouse doesn’t fly either.

    -Michael Bisch

    1. SODA

      “It is incumbent upon the parent/board member to make a choice.”

      Agree and as we both have said above, if the parent won’t the Board certainly should. Yes, any of us who have been on boards have been shown that perceived conflicts of interest are real and must be dealt with. With most boards this does not come up often, but with a school board, as David has pointed out in the tenure article, if the board member has a relative who is a student or a teacher, this can come up frequently. Disappointed in Board and District.

      1. hpierce

        Just to be clear, “conflict of interest” can mean multiple things… under CA law, the only “conflict” that is sanctioned is a FINANCIAL conflict of interest… that being said, outside the law, there are moral/ethical conflicts that electeds should avoid for THOSE situations,.

        1. iPad Guy

          I didn’t realize that “conflict of interest” in California law refers to financial conflicts rather that all the things that most of us see as conflicts or potential conflicts. That could explain why the school board didn’t react when one member didn’t “leave the room” last year when the issue was one of general coach suitability. Once action on an individual member’s child became the issue, however, everyone has to recognize the conflict even if it isn’t financial.

          1. Tia Will

            If it is the case that only “financial” interest counts for “conflict of interest” it potential makes the other board members decision making more complicated. In what way would they then be able to address the issue other than with her personally to take up the issue of the appropriateness of her actions ? I don’t see that there would be any way to criticize their public positions if conflict of interest did not apply. And we certainly are not privy to what ever private opinions they may have expressed or private actions they may have taken.

        2. Michelle Millet

          This is what make this tricky. Let’s say other Board Member did not want Peterson to vote on Crawford’s contract. Did they have any legal standing to do so?

          1. hpierce

            No, not a legal one. But is my opinion that each board member had a moral and/or ethical obligation to raise the issue in public session, so their concern would be on the public record. They could not prevent the board member from voting, but certainly could try to “shame” the member to do the right thing.

          2. Michelle Millet

            I agree. Which begs the questions, did other school board members not have a problem with Peterson’s actions? If the did were they trying to avoid a conflict on board by not addressing it publicly? The have to get through and disseminate a lot of information, did it just slip by them?

            There is plenty of room for speculation on this one.

    2. Michelle Millet

      Which is more important? Being a board member or being a parent of an athlete? You cannot act on both as the roles are clearly in conflict. It is incumbent upon the parent/board member to make a choice.

      If her child was unfairly treated, being on the board should not take away her right to do something about it. Nor should her being on the board give her any more right, or power, to do something about it. She should have followed the same procedure any other parent would have followed to file a complaint, then recused herself from any decision regarding this issue. She also should have been given the same access to information any other parent in a similar situation is given.

      1. TrueBlueDevil

        Nancy Peterson claims to have recused herself from the actions and discussions of the past week. A FOIA request might prove or disprove that.

        Also, has she recused herself from all discussions leading up to this decision, since last August or so? Or did she help plant the seeds, till the soil, water the plants, and then step away when the fruit was harvested?

        1. Michelle Millet

          IMO, she never should have voted on the renewal of Crawford’s contract. If she had a complaint she should have filed it through appropriate channels, it that complaint made it’s way to the school board she should have recused herself.

      2. iPad Guy

        When you went back to track the events last year, did you find anything that indicated Nancy Peterson had a complaint pending against Coach Crawford?

        As I remember the dustup, there were concerns expressed about her coaching rather than a specific complaint regarding the children of the board member. If a complaint had worked its way through the system, the “conflict” would have been apparent (as it is this time around).

        And, TrueBlueDevil, you don’t need a FOIA request. Here is the Enterprise report:

        “Reading from a carefully worded statement, school board president Gina Daleiden announced that the decision was made on a 4-0 vote, with Nancy Peterson ‘absent because she recused herself from public comment, closed session and voting on this matter’.”

        Feel free to speculate on what Ms. Peterson might have been doing since her daughter was cut from the squad. But, everything so far indicates that Dr. Peterson carried the water for this matter. And, that the board member purposely stayed at arms’ length for whatever reasons.

        1. Michelle Millet

          When you went back to track the events last year, did you find anything that indicated Nancy Peterson had a complaint pending against Coach Crawford?

          I did not find anything to suggest that she did or did not officially file a complaint. I can go into hearsay that she was constantly complaining about the coach, which leads me to believe she may have officially complained but that would be an assumption on my part.

          Lets say, for the sake of argument that she did file a complaint about Crawford’s coaching through official channels, the complaint was taken into consideration by the powers that be, but Crawdford VSA was still recommended for board approval by the athletic director and the principal.

          What recourse does she or any other parent have in this situation? If I felt strongly about a coach I didn’t like, I would go to a school member about it.

          Which again she has every right to do, but it makes it trickery that she is one.

          My recommendation, after she learned that the VSA was sent to the board, she should have alerted the 4 other board members via email, so it was part of the public record, about her concerns, and immediately recused herself of further discussion on the issue.

          1. Michelle Millet

            To finish my thought, she should have let the other school members know of her concerns, recused herself from further discussion on the issue, and let the other school board members handle the issue in the way the sought fit.

            That is what any other parent would have had to do.

          2. iPad Guy

            I asked if you found anything specific because I remember only general discussions about whether the coach should be kept on. If so, there’s no reason for a board member to recuse herself if there was nothing personal involved.

            Once her daughter was cut from the team two months after the public mess, it seems she recognized her difficult position as a mother and as a board member and she both recused herself the board considerations and left the complaint process in the hands of the student’s father.

            I don’t see what else she could have done once her daughter was cut, apparently partly because of the earlier confrontations, without giving up the family’s rights to complain as any other family can.

            Most everyone involved in this could have done better. It’s interesting that there’s so much residual resentment about the board member that we can’t even allow for the possibility that the administration and its investigation could be correct about the coach’s actions.

          3. Michelle Millet

            If so, there’s no reason for a board member to recuse herself if there was nothing personal involved.

            Her daughter and son both played on teams Crawford coached.

            Because of this IMO, she should have taken precautions above and beyond what was necessary to not do anything that could be interpreted as an abuse of her power.

            Pulling Crawford’s VSA from the consent calendar and voting against renewal of her contract was such an act.

          4. iPad Guy

            IMO, the fact that she had children on the team isn’t an automatic recusal situation unless she couldn’t be objective because of some history. In the best of situations, she just would have more information to offer during the board’s considerations. She should be able to make the right call. Her colleagues should speak up if they know of any reasons to help out.

            That said, I’m having to reevaluate based on Coach Crawford’s predecessor’s testimony in The Vanguard today. If legitimate, her view puts a different perspective on the whole matter.

            Last time around, I was critical of the board member’s involvement in a personnel matter that rightly (I thought) rested with the superintendent.

            This time, I tried to keep an open mind because of the rationale (a serious breach, I think) that apparently drove the administration to its decision.

            If the picture painted by the former coach is accurate, however, it puts into question whether Ms. Peterson is so driven by a sad volleyball compulsion that it’s impossible for her to operate where she should.

            And, that said, Coach Crawford shouldn’t be rehired if she did let what may have been an unreasonable relationship with a board member influence action against the daughter.

            One would hope the day will come soon when the superintendent makes the personnel calls and the board supports him.

          5. Michelle Millet

            IMO, the fact that she had children on the team isn’t an automatic recusal situation unless she couldn’t be objective because of some history.

            In general, I agree. If it is true that she openly opposed the coach, then her objectively could be put into question. IMO, once that happened it doesn’t matter wether she could be objective or not. I think elected officials should take great care in situations like these to not give even the appearance that they are using their position of power to wield undue influence.

            And, that said, Coach Crawford shouldn’t be rehired if she did let what may have been an unreasonable relationship with a board member influence action against the daughter.

            Agree.

          6. Michelle Millet

            It’s interesting that there’s so much residual resentment about the board member that we can’t even allow for the possibility that the administration and its investigation could be correct about the coach’s actions.

            I wanted to focus this pieces of the school boards official involvement, which I think is a separate issue from wether the administrations investigation is accurate. Wether it is or isn’t is not relevant to wether Peterson’s, or the school boards , actions in this matter were appropriate.

  8. Robin W

    Good article summarizing board action. However, it might have been helpful to include the actions Petetson’s husband took in the last few months pressuring the district administration, since those actions appear to have led directly to the district administration pulling Crawford’s VSA at a very late date that hurt the program and other students. From the point of view of the district administration – and any unrelated third party – this was probably perceived as pressure directly from a School Board member. I am not sure what the other School Board members could have done to prevent this or could do to ensure Peterson and her husband stop their unethical conduct. I would be interested in knowing what the public can do. Can School Board members be impeached or recalled for abusing their authority?

    1. Michelle Millet

      However, it might have been helpful to include the actions Petetson’s husband took in the last few months pressuring the district administration, since those actions appear to have led directly to the district administration pulling Crawford’s VSA at a very late date that hurt the program and other students. From the point of view of the district administration – and any unrelated third party – this was probably perceived as pressure directly from a School Board member.

      There was no public record documenting this information that I could find. Do you know where I could gain access to it?

  9. TrueBlueDevil

    There are a lot of KEY, Unanswered question here. Please add any more you feel are missing. I have tried to leave out items that might be considered personal or protected (HR).

    1. Who hired this “investigative lawyer”?

    2. Who referred this “investigative lawyer”?

    3. Does lawyer Alexander M. Sperry or his firm, Van Dermyden Maddux Law Corporation, Sacramento, have any business or personal ties to Dr. Peterson, or Nancy Peterson?

    4. Has a Freedom of Information Act been filed to find out WHO paid for this lawyer? And what District officials directed / supervised him?

    5. Did he interview one, two, or three members of the Peterson family?

    6. Did he interview Coach Crawford?

    7. Did he interview her volleyball selection committee?

    8. Did he interview the assistant coaches?

    9. Did he review the volleyball team statistics from last year’s team?

    10. WHEN was he contacted, and WHEN was he hired?

    11. What other lawyers were considered, or was he the only choice?

    12. Who allegedly released a confidential “investigative” memo to either The Enterprise, or Dr. Peterson, or both?

    13. Was Coach Crawford made aware that an investigation was underway?

    14. Did Nancy Peterson take part in conversations last Fall regarding Crawford’s VSA agreement?

    15. Did Nancy Peterson meet with Alexander Sperry regarding the Crawford investigation?

      1. iPad Guy

        There’s no evidence that Dr. Peterson was treated differently (or behaved differently) than any other parent would be. There’s lots of speculation about the letter he was sent. It should be easy to determine whether it provided him some kind of unauthorized information since a copy of the letter is in the hands of The Enterprise.

          1. TrueBlueDevil

            I’m unclear what you’re seeking. The Enterprise to publish a complete letter into “the public domain”?

          2. Phil Coleman

            Possibly I can help clarify the legitimacy of the summary of investigation letter received by the Petersons. Unless the letter was noted to be “confidential” or similar phrasing, the Petersons can rightfully say the letter was given to them, and they can do whatever they want with “their” property.

            Following that notion, the question becomes, “It may be legal, but was it proper?” Both Petersons had association with the School District. They held a delicate position on how they would be perceived with the publishing of the letter. The source of the letter was withheld by the Enterprise; either it was received anonymously or their identity was asked to be withheld. Nothing redeeming in either circumstance.

          3. iPad Guy

            Thanks for clearing up this issue. I don’t see how there could be some limitation on how Dr. Peterson used the letter once it became his, but some people were pretty insistent that he was legally bound to confidentiality.

            I’m not sure that he can be much criticized for his interview with The Enterprise unless you’re prepared to make the same judgment about Ms. Crawford’s actions in providing extensive “inside” information (quoting private conversations with her supervisor about the superintendent’s office, etc.).

            The coach holds at least as delicate a position with the school district as the doctor. Since both “sides” obviously feel victimized and righteous, it’s not surprising that both have taken their dispute public. And information that would seem to be better kept private is coming out via surrogates.

            Nothing redeeming in either side’s approach. But understandable.

          4. TrueBlueDevil

            WHO gave Dr. Peterson the letter in question? That is the big issue.

            Writing “Confidential” might show some kind of intent, it does not create a duty – which would happen if two individuals signed a Confidentiality / Non Disclose Agreement.

  10. TrueBlueDevil

    FWIW, Alexander Sperry has lived in Davis before, so he may know one of the players in this drama. He has also been active in The Junior League of Sacramento.

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