Analysis: School Board Moves Meeting to Community Chambers; Debate Continues

volleyballAfter some behind the scenes concerns and deliberating, the school district has moved the open session portions of Thursday’s meeting to the Davis Community Chambers at City Hall, instead of holding the entire meeting in the smaller District Office Building.

According to the update: “Open Session has been moved and will convene in the Community Chambers, 23 Russell Boulevard. At the conclusion of public comment, the Board will convene in Closed Session. Following closed session, the Board will reconvene in the Community Chambers to address the remaining open session agenda items.”

The bottom line is this.  The meeting begins at 6 pm.  There will be a public comment prior to the closed session meeting.  The board will then move across the street to the District Office Building to hear the appeal.

The board will then come back to the Community Chambers and announce any decision that has been made during the closed session.  They are also agendized to make comments on the appeal and they will have a first reading of the conflict of interest policy.

While some have questioned the wisdom of public comment before a “quasi-judicial” review process, the rules governing public meetings require them to do so.

On Tuesday, an op-ed in the newspaper by Andrea Glasgow published a piece, “Let our voices be heard,” which served as a defense of sorts for Nancy Peterson.  It generated a large amount of comments, but, as with some of the other pieces, misses critical points.

Ms. Glasgow writes, “Nancy Peterson, this is for you.  Your statement in Friday’s paper, ‘may we become sensitive to and forever mindful of those who have not yet discovered the strength of their voices,’ has moved me to find my voice.”

She describes their personal relationship and then states, “I tell all spectators in this circus that you and your family are truly a class act and justified in your actions. The Davis non-volleyball community does not know the extent of the matters.”

This is what we have heard repeatedly – we do not know the facts of what happened and if we did, we would have a different view on the controversy.

The facts of the matter are somewhat different, however.  To a large extent, Nancy Peterson is being judged on a specific range of public actions: the fact that she could not separate her role as board member from her role as mother and, beyond that, her feud with Julie Crawford, her inappropriate statement on the dais about a district employee, the decision to leak the investigation to the press, her husband’s public comment, her condescending interview with iSeeDavis which has apparently been taken down and her even more condescending op-ed.

These are the actions on which she has been judged and these are public actions and, frankly, there is no excuse for any of them.

Ms. Glasgow continues: “Do they know that your daughter was moved up in volleyball and played at a high skill level for several years prior to the events? So why would she be cut now? The independent conclusion was retaliation.”

As we discussed yesterday, the independent conclusion is far more equivocal.  In fact, the investigator concluded that “coach Crawford’s decision to cut (the Petersons’ daughter) from the girls volleyball program was influenced, in part, by her personal feelings about Nancy Peterson” but also added “at the same time (the investigator) does not find that coach Crawford acted with ‘willful mal-intent’ to harm (the Petersons’ daughter). … Rather, through no fault of her own, (the daughter) simply became a casualty of the ongoing ‘volleyball drama’ involving coach Crawford and Nancy Peterson.’”

So the investigator actually concluded that there was no willful “mal-intent” to harm Ms. Peterson.  Instead, Coach Crawford and Nancy Peterson were embroiled in some sort of dispute and Ms. Peterson may have been collateral damage in this dispute.

One reason that Nancy Peterson was forced to resign is that she was never willing to accept even so much as an ounce of responsibility for what happened.

So, as Ms. Glasgow suggests, “So now your family is supposed to work this out? Unbelievable!”

At the very least Nancy Peterson could have stayed quiet and allowed the process to work itself out.  By speaking out, leaking to the press, she sealed her fate.  Nothing Ms. Glasgow writes changes those facts on the ground.

Ms. Glasgow continues, “It will be Davis’ loss now that you have resigned, Nancy, but maybe our superintendent and other members of the Board of Education can do what is right. But if not, you most certainly would win a lawsuit.”

So, basically, there is an implied threat to the district that if they rule against Nancy Peterson, they face a lawsuit.  We have assumed this to be the logical outcome for some time, but this adds weight to it.

We then get to the source of Ms. Glasgow’s complaint against Julie Crawford.

She writes, “Now, a glimpse at my story. My son played on the boys volleyball squad last year. He had chosen not to play for coach Crawford this year. While he was new to the team, he played recreationally weekly and loved the game. He rarely missed full practices. One week he came down with a flu virus. When I look back, it could have been H1N1.

“I emailed Julie and told her that my son was physically drained and that he would miss one week of practice. He told me the following week that Julie told him that he was expected to come in and watch practice that week.”

Ms. Glasgow argues, “Really! Does a coach believe that a player is going to learn as much by sitting and watching when he isn’t feeling well?”

She continues, “This type of intimidation does not put the health and welfare of our children first. Nor should a parent fear ramifications for legitimately dismissing a sick child, nor should a child fear being benched for being sick for a week. This is just one incident in a long list of perceived code of conduct or ethical issues.”

While we are not in a position to judge this incident, it does not seem that far-fetched that a coach would insist that a player watch his teammates unless there is a strong and compelling reason not to.

But from our perspective – this has always been about the conduct of a public official.  There are policies in place to protect students and the district has the ability to investigate and make a determination.

Ms. Glasgow concludes, “Let me state, however, that there are many wonderful coaches in Davis. They are respectful to both parents and players, and I thank them for taking on the huge responsibility in coaching our kids. But we must challenge anyone in direct contact with our children who has taken his or her power to another level.”

She adds, “Our little town does need to find its voice in this issue. I encourage anyone with past or present incidents with coach Crawford to email our superintendent and Board of Education. I have nothing to gain or lose by submitting this letter, just a hope that future sons and daughters can play volleyball in a different setting.”

—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. SouthofDavis

    David posted that Ms. (Mrs.?) Glasgow wrote:

    > I emailed Julie and told her that my son was physically
    > drained and that he would miss one week of practice.

    I hope Ms. Glasgow and other helicopter parents step back and look at how treating their High School age sons as “little boys” ends up.

    Today we have 40% of men 18 to 30 living at home with their parents and I’ve noticed that close to 90% of kids with Mom’s like Ms. (Mrs.?) Glasgow seem to end up living at home as adults (since they need someone to e-mail their boss that they can’t come in to work every time they are “physically drained”)…

  2. TrueBlueDevil

    SouthDavis +1

    Can someone enlighten me on what grounds (causes of action) Nancy Peterson would sue on? She is a public figure, there are no monetary damages, and she quit her position. (I’m no lawyer, but I think one could argue that the Coach is not a public figure.) Interesting that ISeeDavis buckled in taking down the video clip… did anyone save it?

    Have any local scribes followed up on the $10,000 net system purchase?

    Mr. Greenwald, is it more likely than not that the Board members read the Vanguard on a daily basis?

  3. Mr. Toad

    People who support Peterson are really grasping at straws at this point. Too weak to sit through practice but strong enough to go to school. Why didn’t she get a doctors note if it was that big a deal? If you said a coach overruled a directive from a doctor that would be a problem. It seems the coach tried to meet her halfway and was sensitive to the students individual needs by allowing him to show up but not fully participate. Its not like the coach disregarded this woman’s concerns or the health of the student.

    I bet if the young man had shown up and told the coach he wasn’t feeling well the coach would have sent him home. I once had a class with a mandatory lab attendance policy. One time I was sick, feeling bad and didn’t want to suffer through the lab. I showed up before lab and told the professor I wasn’t feeling well. He immediately excused me.

    Teachers and coaches use all sorts of motivational variables to get the most out of students. The one this woman describes is called “level of concern.” We’ve all experienced it. Its when the teacher ups the ante on something to motivate you to try your best. Still, skilled teachers know the limits of this technique and will usually make adjustments when needed. I’m sure Crawford would have made further adjustments if the student had spoken with her about his personal needs necessitating further accommodation. Good teachers usually do.

    1. TrueBlueDevil

      Did you read her parsing of words? “He rarely missed full practices.” So this could easily mean …

      – he missed this FULL week
      – he missed at least one other day
      – he may have been late to other practices (but not a full day)

  4. TrueBlueDevil

    In today’s Enterprise, writer Bob Dunning details more official “complaints” filed by Nancy Peterson with the district administration, which we can add to the list previously mentioned by Ms. Leigh Whitmire Choate here at The Vanguard. It is unclear whether Dunning got these from his source, Deep Quote, or whether he was given this from an official public information request.

    OK, here come the earthshaking revelations. Hold on to your bloomers! (I’ve numbered these, to add them to the previously identified complaints.)

    Bob Dunning: Evidence doesn’t support coach’s removal

    6. “Allowed high school boys to sit on the bench and chat with players on the girls varsity team,”

    7. ” “Restricted spectators at team practices” [Nancy Peterson?]

    8. ““Sanctioned inappropriate postings on the DHS volleyball Facebook page, calling for ‘tall attractive men to join the most killer sport.’ ”

    “…Even the investigator was hard-pressed to state definitively that retaliation had, indeed, taken place. In any regard, it’s hardly the smoking gun that would decide this thing once and for all.”

    “…Sounds like Julie Crawford was hardly able to breathe without fear of being reported to the district administration, an administration that serves at the pleasure of the Davis school board.

    “Clearly, there’s plenty of blame to go around here, but there’s simply not enough evidence to remove Julie Crawford as the head coach of our highly successful boys and girls volleyball programs.”

    1. PhilColeman

      From the perspective of a Peterson supporter, one could offer it does show strength of purpose. Now pardon me while I go back and look up, “bloomers.”

    2. Realist

      Saw NP at the track meet today with her sycophants. Expect another investigation as there were plenty of high school boys sitting on benches and chatting with varsity and frosh/soph girls from the track team. I feel sorry for those coaches.

  5. BusterMcGee

    In the “real world,” we’ve got families struggling to feed their kids right here in Davis – not to mention throughout the world. Families going through cancer, mental illness, job losses, divorce etc. To see a privileged family such as the Petersons lose all sense of reality and become obsessed with the perceived slights of a coach against their daughter is, well, quite sickening. The narcissism, myopia, entitlement, self-righteousness and sheer idiocy is mind boggling. And those dolts (Petersons) have the nerve to wrap this hot mess up in bow and call it – “the courage to speak up.” What a sad, sad, joke. But really, the school administration’s handling of this has been inane too. $21,000 on an investigation, then sitting on the results for months. It is time for some serious housekeeping at the district office….I wonder if the Petersons will ever wake up from their delusion. Quite frankly I feel sorry for their kids. How embarrassed they must be by their parents’ conduct.

  6. TrueBlueDevil

    The Notebook: A reader at The Enterprise this afternoon shared this – that Nancy Peterson carried around a notebook with which she would notate any of the alleged wrongdoings of the volleyball coaches / program. She would follow around the coaches and notate every move. (This may be why practices were eventually closed.) Apparently, Nancy and her notebook were joked about.

    Can Coach Leigh Choate or anyone else confirm this?

    More Board of Education Hijinks

    Another Enterprise reader relayed that board member Sheila Allen had her child called out of alpha order – last – at graduation, which was weird, and embarrassing, so that she could have an extra special moment with her child.

    And this: “Or numerous board members having kids in athletics so they decided to create independent lifetime sports so that they could bypass PE and their kids could get credit for their sport? (illegal by the way)”

    If these items are true, it looks like the BOE has become the playground of the rich and powerful.

  7. Jim Frame

    numerous board members having kids in athletics so they decided to create independent lifetime sports so that they could bypass PE and their kids could get credit for their sport

    I don’t know who was behind the implementation of ILS, but it makes life more manageable for all high school athletes, not just Board member kids. As for the “illegal” charge, color me dubious.

    1. TrueBlueDevil

      First time I’ve heard of it … I would need more information to judge it, but it sounds like they might be giving PE credits for athletic participation?

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