My View: Peterson Pulls No Punches, Lands No Blows

Nancy Peterson speaks against new hire at board meeting on Friday March 21, 2014
Nancy Peterson speaks against new hire at board meeting on Friday March 21, 2014

It was expected to be a routine meeting of the school board.  So much so that the Enterprise reporter was a bit surprised to see me there and told me there would likely be no fireworks.  That was literally two seconds before in walked Nancy Peterson.

The truth was that I was there to deliver the message that the community could not “move on” until the district had publicly addressed a large number of issues that arose during this controversy.

But the second Nancy Peterson showed up, the order of the day would change.  This was her first public appearance since resigning two weeks ago.  She would not disappoint.  She delivered what might have been a fire and brimstone sermon in a different venue, many times literally barely restraining herself from screaming at the board.

In our view, it seems that she is setting things up for a lawsuit – whether she has actionable issues at this point is difficult to assess.

A few weeks ago following Ms. Peterson’s ill-conceived op-ed to the Enterprise, we suggested that she was not helping her case and therefore needed to stop talking.  A few days later she would resign, but the way in which this matter unfolded makes it quite clear that, had they simply shut their mouths after they filed the complaint against Ms. Crawford and allowed the district to handle things, Nancy Peterson would still be a school board member.

Her resignation may have freed her up to be more outspoken here, but to what purpose?  It is clear she is not seen to be objective about the facts on the ground or honest about the findings of the report.

She started by reading from district policy regarding retaliation, that that those engaging in “retaliation shall be subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.”

Indeed, she seems to almost miss that the discipline action is “up to,” not necessarily “including,” dismissal.

She went on to argue that the Superintendent and Board “have been issuing statements lately that speak to harming a student in order to retaliate against the parent as a simple mistake.”  She sarcastically stated, “Let’s just forget it happened and move on.”

She made the same error as she did in her initial essay, focusing on the part of the investigator’s report summarized by Matt Best which stated “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 she forgets the second, “At the same time [the investigator] does not find that coach Crawford acted with “willful mal-intent” to harm [the Petersons’ daughter].”

Whether you want to categorize that as a simple mistake, it certainly mitigates the nature of the offense.

Nancy Peterson angrily added, “To summarize, just last week the board of education voted to uphold findings of the administration regarding a parent complaint about an employee and within four days the same administration is putting the same employee forward to coach the very team in which the findings occurred.  Four days!”

She then quipped, “Is this an example of restorative justice?”

No, it is not.  For one thing, as we know Nancy Peterson refused to accept the district’s offer to mediate the complaint.  A restorative justice approach would have sat down each of the parties in this case and assessed the harm and damage and then worked on remedies to restore those involved.

It is a powerful process but it takes two to participate and Ms. Peterson steadfastly refused.

Misunderstanding what a restorative justice process would entail, Ms. Peterson nevertheless continued borrowing from that language, “If so, some might be wondering about the student and what Mr. Roberson has done to heal the harm done to the student involved.  Nothing, is my answer.”

This is an interesting answer which is not the full story.  As we noted yesterday in a comment, Ms. Peterson’s daughter was actually given a tremendous opportunity in the aftermath of getting cut.

The Vanguard has learned and confirmed that, following the daughter being cut, she was given the opportunity to be a student-coach at Harper Jr. High. She was not to be paid for this position. The district utilizes a lot of recent graduates as coaches, but at the time she was one of two who were given that opportunity this year while still in school.

I was told that this was done – the decision – at the site level, not the district level.  It is not that I believe that the opportunity exonerates any mistreatment of Ms. Peterson, but it does remunerate some of the harm and it belies Nancy Peterson’s claim that nothing was done to rectify the harm to her daughter.

“Here we all are seven months after the complaint was filed and he has never even spoken to the student.  Neither has any other administrator, principal, or athletic director or trustee,” Nancy Peterson continued yesterday.  “In fact, the coach never even bothered to speak to her player of three years.”

Given the situation as it developed, it is not surprising that Coach Crawford might have been reluctant to speak to Nancy Peterson’s daughter.  Given the ongoing investigation and the need for the district to conduct an independent investigation, it is probably not surprising that administration officials would also want to allow the process to play out.

Ms. Peterson continued: “So President Daleiden, since your biggest issue seems to be why this wasn’t handled before sending a code-3 in motion, here is my answer: that would have required someone from the district or even DHS to speak to the student and that I can assure you, never happened.”

One of the things we do not know in this is what happened between the point that Ms. Peterson was cut from the team and when the family filed the complaint.  Certainly, once a complaint was filed and the district launched its $22,000 independent investigation, the opportunity was lost for alternative solutions.

This might have been a good time to go into a mediation, with a restorative justice approach.

Ms. Peterson accused Superintendent Roberson of “appeasing” Ms. Crawford.  That’s an interesting take.  One of the developments yesterday was the resignation of athletic director Dennis Foster and one of the things we have learned is that Mr. Foster backed Julie Crawford originally, only to be overridden by Matt Best and Winfred Roberson.

Ms. Peterson feels her daughter was never protected, but I think this goes back to one of our initial analyses at the time, which was that Nancy Peterson put her own daughter in harm’s way.

Last July, as we have noted, Nancy Peterson would be the lone dissenting vote in a 3-1 vote, with Tim Taylor not on the phone line when the vote occurred.  She then threw fuel on the fire when she stated, “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.”

In our view, Nancy Peterson probably violated personnel laws and created a hostile work environment for Julie Crawford.  She then compounded that decision by sending her daughter back to the team to play for the coach, the coach she had a few weeks earlier stated she could not “in good conscience vote to approve Ms. Crawford as a coach for young adults.”

Nancy Peterson was attempting to wear two hats – mom and school board member.  The moment she decided to vote against returning the coach and make the strongly-worded statement, she should have been making the decision that she needed to be a school board member first.  That meant not putting everyone in a tough spot by putting her daughter back on the team.  She should have sent her daughter to a club team in Sacramento for her senior year.  By trying to be both a school board member and a mom at the same time, she created a huge conflict of interest and, in both cases, put personal needs over the good of the school district.

More importantly, she did just as she accused the district of doing – she failed to protect her daughter.

Nancy Peterson then digresses into a strange attack on the DTA.

She cited the firing of Coach Jeff Christian from a few years ago and argued, “He removed two players from his team and was fired for that.  The technicality cited was failure to notify the players before announcing it. I wonder if he knew that technicality or was it a simple oversight through no fault of his own?”

“Perhaps the real difference is that Coach Christian wasn’t a teacher and therefore the DTA wasn’t backing him with all their political power and the board didn’t have to worry about the impact of alienating them,” she stated.  “Students and the school community should be the priorities and not the political prowess of a union out to preserve members regardless of their activities.”

It is a strange comment, given the recent history between the district and the DTA, where the district had opposed the DTA on several key issues including the need for DTA to take concessions and contract status.

The same school board and district had no problem bucking the DTA back then.

This simply illustrates that Nancy Peterson is attempting to throw everyone under the bus – Gina Daleiden, Winfred Roberson, the DTA, and she referenced the DHS Principal and Athletic Director by title, but not name.

I still have yet to hear a single acknowledgement of what Nancy Peterson did wrong.  I won’t hold my breath.

A few weeks ago I was told that supporters of Nancy Peterson during her 2012 election warned her that, once she was elected, she should stay away from volleyball.  Alas, she could not.  She was barely in office for two months when she instigated this incident by pulling the VSA.

This would become her undoing.  In essence she became Captain Ahab and she was destroyed by her obsession with revenge.

“He piled upon the whale’s white hump the sum of all the general rage and hate felt by his whole race from Adam down; and then, as if his chest had been a mortar, he burst his hot heart’s shell upon it.”

Ultimately, Captain Ahab was killed by his own harpoon, a victim of his own twisted obsession and desire for revenge.  He would not be alone in this tragedy, for his whole crew is eventually destroyed by the whale and the Pequod is sunk.

Nancy Peterson has failed to learn the lessons from Moby Dick and what will be interesting to see is what collateral damage she ends up doing to herself, her family, her former colleagues on the school board, and the school district.

Watch the video of Nancy Peterson’s public comment:

—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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96 Comments

  1. wdf1

    When Peterson ran for school board, she seemed to run on a platform of improving accessibility for all students, which appealed to me. The Vanguard ran a piece on this at the time, mostly about accessibility to Title I students. Greenwald ran another article on this a few days ago.

    What was missing from that essay is that she would have had a very good case to use this platform to increase opportunities and accessibility in the district athletic program by modifying policy objectives. As it is, the current outgoing Athletic Director has appropriately noted that about 300 more students are participating in school athletics since he started, but I think there is still room for improvement. Likely it would not have helped her child in the short term, but could have benefited many others in the long term. But we’re not focused on those policy discussions now. Instead we’re focused on a specific case and specific personalities.

    1. wdf1

      wdf1: but I think there is still room for improvement

      Specifically, the focus of school athletics is about providing a pathway for students to a top selective competitive varsity team. There is no opportunity for upper class students (juniors and seniors) to participate at a more recreational level against teams from other schools. On the other hand, the high school has a range of audition and non-audition music groups that serve all levels of students. In some cases, a student gains a more satisfying experience by being a leader in the non-audition group than in sitting in the back of the section of the audition group. I have noted before that Jesuit HS seems to have multiple varsity teams for rugby, seemingly the top select team and then other secondary varsity teams that juniors and seniors can play on.

      1. Hmmm

        Wdf1..with all do respect. I am pretty sure rugby is not as CIF sanctioned sport. Meaning it is considered a club sport/intramural sport. This would enable juniors and seniors to play on any of the teams being offered by any given school. No bylaws so to speak.

        1. Hmmm

          I couldn’t confirm but it states that a Jesuit Rugby player needs to pay $35.00 dollars to USA Rugby, plus multiple other costs. Including very strict uniform standards that must be bought through the team. I do not believe a CIF sanctioned sport requires this. I could be wrong, but sounds like a club sport. Which enables juniors and seniors to play at a recreational level, if they choose to.

        2. wdf1

          It is but one example. Somehow school districts across the state that are committed to a robust music program find ways for students of all grade levels and abilities to participate meaningfully in audition or non-audition groups. Why can’t this discussion about athletics?

          The main response I have seen so far is that a student who doesn’t get chosen for the varsity team should learn a life lesson and “move on” (a phrase that has acquired offensive baggage in this discussion). Okay. The student didn’t “pass the audition”, but what else is available then? We don’t kick a trumpet player out of the music program at any point because he/she didn’t make it into the jazz or symphonic band. Instead there are opportunities to participate in the non-audition concert band or the pep band. Students mature at different rates, students have variable stresses in their lives at different times. Sometimes a student’s course load is really too much to accommodate participation in an audition music group. This doesn’t have to be a conversation about excellence in all things or nothing else. It is worthwhile for a student to maintain a lifelong interest in arts and sports as part of being a well-rounded person. Many adults engage in playing with community bands or orchestras as well as city recreational sports leagues and activities. There is something significantly missing when a dedicated senior athlete’s only choice is the school varsity team or nothing else.

          I’m interested in ways to see the athletics program expand so that Crawford can have her varsity team and maintain her high standards, but there is something in there for a second tier of students (seniors not selected for varsity, maybe juniors on the cusp).

          1. Matt Williams

            Well said wdf. Very well said.

            I must say that I was very surprised to hear the DJUSD prohibits both seniors and juniors from playing on the JV team. Seems exclusionary to me.

          2. hmmm

            Wdf1. I respect your post and agree in the music/band ideaology of offering non-audtion spots to further the interests in what they want to pursue. I personally do not know much about that.

            I know the sports world. That to me, is simply unrealistic in the public school realm. Yes, private schools may be able to provide those luxuries in band/choir/athletics/drama/debate/ etc..

            If you are TRYING out for any inter-scholastic sport, you run the risk of not making the team. Unless, you are at a school like Davis Waldorf who do not make cuts or at the Jr. High schools in town who don’t cut. You end up with 25 kids on a basketball team, which in itself must be hard to run a practice. I could have missed more examples and I apologize. But the simple fact is, that is a risk you take trying to make the team.

            It really stinks not to make the cut when you were part of the team before and I get it. In my experience of playing sports and coaching, if a player is not quite good enough but shows heart, determination to be a team player, and knows his/her role, and be a positove influence I might keep them. Not sure there is a perfect answer to this dilema.

          3. wdf1

            DJUSD is blessed with having a higher than average concentration of involved students — students involved in sports, in the arts, in clubs, etc. I think a downside to this blessing is that it has created some tension in athletics. Right now there can only be one varsity basketball team, one varsity girls VB team, etc. You’re right that it simply doesn’t make sense to run a varsity basketball team with 25 players. Why not be able to split that and have two teams? Maybe a top varsity team and then a secondary varsity team?

            The answer I’m hearing is that CIF doesn’t allow it. Can’t this issue be raised with CIF? DJUSD can’t be the only school district with this problem. And I’m sure it would give CIF a sense of purpose and accomplishment to be able to expand the number of students who meaningfully participate in inter-scholastic sports. It would give DJUSD an opportunity to field more students and give more students a sense of belonging and organizational/community commitment and responsibility, which is supposed to be a hallmark of high school sports. I think this would allow a number of athletics programs to operate under less pressure than currently exists.

            One commenter below suggested that there be two high schools in Davis to allow for more sports opportunities. That is a very strange motivation for opening up another comprehensive HS (but there really isn’t enough enrollment to pull that off, anyway). Again, we don’t think of opening up another high school in town because there are too many students to be in one band class. Instead we open up other bands in the same school.

            If you’re a coach connected to DHS athletics, then please consider having this discussion with the next athletic director and with CIF.

  2. hpierce

    Don’t know how the approved policy is ACTUALLY worded, but it is clear from the video, that the former board member said…”up to and INCLUDING dismissal”. You may want to edit/delete your comment on that.

    In any event, IF a dismissal could result from cutting a player from a team, without ‘malicious mal-intent’, we need to modify the policy, quickly. This is becoming insane.

  3. Tia Will

    While I agree with most of your assessment, I feel that Nancy Peterson may have one valid point here.

    I find it inconceivable that an investigation would be conducted without an interview with the presumed victim.
    In my setting this would be the equivalent of a medical assistant ( or her representative )saying that a doctor was retaliating against her, and conducting the investigation without interviewing the medical assistant. This would be an absurd breech of process in my setting and I find it difficult to believe that it would not be in any setting.

    1. David Greenwald

      Well I thought about that but she stated that no one from the administration, DHS, or school board contacted her, she never said the attorney didn’t.

      1. Tia Will

        Ah…that is an important point that I overlooked. I wonder if she was interviewed by the attorney or representative since that would make all the difference.

    2. hpierce

      I’m inclined to agree with your main point, Tia, but I can see a couple of complicating considerations. First, even tho’ no-one has really accused the student for misbehavior (there have been some ‘what-if’s’), not sure of the legal constraints about interviewing a minor w/o parents’ knowledge/permission/presence. The other consideration was that those responsible for fact-finding/investigation were afraid. If the latter was a factor, and upper admin was “afraid,” then they should be purged, as their duty is to “do the right thing” even if there is a modicum of risk to their job security.

      1. Tia Will

        hpierce

        It seems we have more agreement than disagreement. However, I think the “fear” factor was removed by hiring legal counsel to do the investigation. I cannot believe that the attorney would have in any way been intimidated by Ms. Peterson. Or perhaps I am misunderstanding?

        I see a couple of different possibilities for going with an outside attorney in an investigation.
        One would be to remove the appearance of favoritism coloring the investigation itself.
        Another might be to ensure that those conducting the investigation are not intimidated by any party whose actions might be scrutinized by the investigation. Am I portraying this accurately ?

        1. hpierce

          Point taken as to why outside counsel would be sought. My point is if your are a high level administrator in the public school system, where hopefully ethics, respect, and honor are supported, if not directly taught, you should have a “pair” and weigh what is right over job security. I know number of people in the public sector who chose to do it. Sometimes they prevailed, and set a standard for behavior. Most of those who did not prevail, realized the were working for a corrupt agency, and gladly moved on.

      2. TrueBlueDevil

        I disagree.

        A month or so back we had one or two posters claim that the Peterson child was openly disrespectful and disobedient to the coaching staff. This is not an exact quote, but is very close to the intent of the original poster(s).

        This is one component in choosing a player for a team, and I believe being cooperative, a team player, and respectful are qualities listed in the volleyball rules, DHS athletic rules, and I’d imagine CIF rules.

        While, if true, the previous behavior were grounds for being cut; it looks like the addition of superior talent ultimately led to a slot not being open for their daughter.

        1. Tia Will

          TBD

          “A month or so back we had one or two posters claim that the Peterson child was openly disrespectful and disobedient to the coaching staff.”

          Respectfully we have no idea whether or not these claims have any validity.
          And I have already posted my comments about the multifactorial nature of player performance. I really believe that speculating about the actions of Ms. Peterson is not productive and should not be used as justification for the actions of the adults involved.

          1. Leigh Choate

            I guess I don’t understand, are you saying that the athlete shouldn’t be held responsible for her attitude, behavior, or level of play during tryouts and that the only reason she did not make the team was because of the adults?

          2. TrueBlueDevil

            I guess she is implying since we don’t know this for fact, and since I didn’t provide an exact quote, we shouldn’t address it. Hence, not valid.

          3. Tia Will

            Leigh

            That was not at all what I meant. If you will review my posts, I never spoke about the “only reason” but rather about the multifactorial nature of performance, in sports, part of which is dependent upon both team and individual coaching as well as individual athlete effort.

            However, TBD is accurate in the main assessment of my point.
            What we are dealing with in regard to the young Ms. Peterson’s behavior is hearsay and therefore invalid as a factor in making a judgement. Even if one were present at the time words were spoken, there is a very fine line between “telling it like it is” which many people equate with standing up for yourself and “being rude” . I just don’t believe that we should be judging the student athlete on hearsay provided on the basis of what is necessarily very subjective observation and interpretation.

  4. Ryan Kelly

    Nancy should talk to her daughter and explain why she screwed up her senior year. I can’t imagine the guilt and regret that Nancy might be feeling and her disparation to find somewhere else to lay the blame. Nancy needs to explain what she thinks was retaliated against and why she thinks committing her own retaliation will cure the harm done to her child.

    1. SouthofDavis

      Ryan wrote:

      > Nancy needs to explain what she thinks was retaliated against
      > and why she thinks committing her own retaliation will cure the
      > harm done to her child.

      It is ironic that while Nancy says it was wrong to “kick her daughter off the team” she has been working nonstop for YEARS to “kick the coach off the team”…

    2. Dave Hart

      If you read what David wrote, and presumably you are commenting on what he wrote, Nancy Peterson isn’t in a place in her mind or soul to talk to her daughter. She is, like Captain Ahab, intent on vengeance with no thought or reflection regarding the harms done to the community, the DJUSD Board or even her own daughter. Please stay on topic.

  5. TrueBlueDevil

    If it is true that the coach didn’t talk to the Peterson child for three years, this means that the volleyball coaching staff has been walking on egg shells for 3 years, or possibly years before, back to the Coach Leigh Whitmire Choate years. Coach Choate has said as much here on numerous occasions. Further, two BOE members published an opinion piece that they believe parental harassing may have occurred. (Imagine what documents and stories they have heard.)

    This might give us further proof that we have to deal with policies and procedures to protect coaches and teachers from meddlesome and possibly harassing / bullying parents. I suggested classifying a parent who has filed more than 2 or 3 complaints (pick a number) in a year as a Vexatious litigant. Maybe for these special parents, new criteria need to be established and reviewed by legal counsel.

    Given the enormous time, stress, and expenses the district and school have spent dealing with one parent – which probably total well over $100,000 – 200,000 – maybe a transfer or termination option should be strengthened. When you add in the “opportunity cost” of all the time and effort that could have spent teaching or mentoring other children, the costs are enormous. This would be complicated, but would only be used after numerous attempts at mediation and conflict resolution.

    If the Peterson’s are willing to fork over a $10,000 retainer, which will quickly become $20,000, it’s a free world. However, they could also prompt a counter-suit which might open up a treasure trove of documents that would be quite damning. Given that we know that eight silly complaints were filed in just one year, these eight are likely only the tip of an iceberg that would paint the picture of what DHS was dealing with for years.

    1. hpierce

      “Walking on eggshells” is not even close to the model I’d want to see teachers/coaches imbue to their students. I know I have confronted nearly every attempt to ‘bully me’, with strong resistance, even tho’ it cause be minor injury, as I was the ‘less strong’ one. Hell, in Jr Hi, I got ‘suspended’ for 3 days for getting into a physical fight with another student who was bigger, stronger and started the whole conflict. Didn’t care tho’, as I did a ‘stupid’, ducked into the punch, causing a laceration of my ‘inner mouth’, which required 3 stitches, got infected, and so I wouldn’t have been in school those 3 days anyhow. Like David’s characterization in the title of the article, I didn’t even land a punch. Funny thing… the student who fought with me and I realized we had both done ‘stupids’, and were pretty good friends afterwards (and needed not intervention from the school staff). Guess ‘kids’ are more resilient than ‘adults’.

      1. hpierce

        Just remembered… the kid I got in a fight with… his first name is David. But, not to worry, I only throw verbal or written ‘punches’ these days.

      2. Tia Will

        hpierce

        I respect your choice to “strongly resist” attempts to bully you. I would also hope the there would be respect for those who prefer not to use the same tactics as the bully in order to avoid/end bullying. There are some who chose to live in peace regardless of provocation and I believe that approach should also be respected and valued rather then derided as weakness.

        1. hpierce

          Time, place and method. However, I hope you can respect that there are times in life (I’ve had one, as an adult), where some of us are fully prepared to use lethal force to protect the life of a friend or loved one… or an “innocent”… it was a defining moment to be ready, but with luck and perhaps God’s grace, I didn’t have to go there.

    2. Tia Will

      TBD

      “This might give us further proof that we have to deal with policies and procedures to protect coaches and teachers from meddlesome and possibly harassing / bullying parents.”

      This part of your post I agree with. However, if this feeling of need to “walk on eggshells” led to avoidance or neglect of a player by a coach, the coach does not have a leg to stand on with regard to neglecting the development of a player because of dislike of or intimidation by a parent. If this kind of behavior is occurring, the coach ( teacher) should be working on this through the union and administration, not by either directly or indirectly taking it out on the student who is also dependent on the actions of the parent and thus in a completely no win situation if the parent is not behaving well as would seem to be the case here.
      My best wishes go out to the young Ms. Peterson who truly does seem to have been placed in an untenable position by the adults in her life.

      1. TrueBlueDevil

        We can only speculate. My guess is that the daughter received as much instruction as the other players, maybe more, and received as many opportunities as the other players in drills and team exercises. I can’t imagine neglect for three reasons. One, that is not why coaches coach, second, all of the coaches knew they were under a microscope, so they were being extra extra careful, and third, Nancy Peterson has not alleged it.

        The coaches went to their superiors, who apparently felt like they could not help her.

        The “walking on eggshells”, therefore, refers to Nancy Peterson’s claim that nobody talked to her daughter in three years and the possible harassment / legal implications. In my day, coaches never had a formal sit-down with a player, so I’m not sure what she was after. If we study history, possibly more badgering. I’m pretty sure they avoided any uncomfortable situations, which covers a lot considering NPs behavior.

        I’m pretty sure the coaches wouldn’t look forward to a meeting with Nancy Peterson, which repeated evidence shows would be a no-win situation. Common sense would dictate to stay away from meetings without superiors and witnesses to disprove any wild allegations. And since she made the team the first three years, I don’t see why a meeting was needed.

        Mrs. Peterson leaving out that her daughter was given a position as a junior high coach while still a student adds more context. That was a classy and wise move, and allowed her daughter to stay active in volleyball. Instead of taking this as a positive, new, promising development, Mrs. Peterson chose to go to war.

    3. Hmmm

      Can anyone clarify what “talk” is defined as? So, the coach didn’t say a word to her for 3 years? I find that hard to believe. I played competitive sports and if I didn’t play, I knew it was on me. Not once did I blame others because I didn’t work hard or wasn’t a positive influence for my team. I didn’t need a tutorial. Just my experience.

      1. Tia Will

        Hmmm

        Well, it may be that you had the good fortune to never encounter a hostile coach. My son was not so fortunate. He chose to leave his sport voluntarily after the most abusive year. The coach was fired in the same season. I feel that the student athletes were the losers in this situation through no fault of their own. This is not always one sided.

        1. hmmm

          Tia, I am sorry your son had to go through that. That is not OK.

          I grew up playing different sports quite a few years back. I did encounter that hostile coach (es). It was not fun, but I played through it. Just the way it was back then.

    4. Shell

      “In fact, the coach never even bothered to speak to her player of three years.”

      My initial interpretation was also … the coach never even bothered to speak to her player FOR three years .. What Mrs Peterson said, was ‘the coach never bothered to speak to her player OF three year’.

      Oh boy, what a difference a letter can make.

  6. tj

    It seems a bit strange that Petersons’ daughter apparently never initiated conversation with one of the coaches, her counselor, or other staff to ask for help herself if she really felt there was a problem. And, one wonders how vested she was in volleyball, since she turned down the opportunity to help coach a team.

    [edit — please avoid psychological analysis. Thanks. Don]

      1. isalim

        Yes, the daughter DID coach, at Harper Jr. High, her former school, and did a fabulous job. It was a classy and wise move on the part of the site principal there to recognize that this girl was talented and good with younger students and perhaps caught in the middle of grown-ups issues.

          1. Matt Williams

            TBD, if the Harper Jr. High site principal could see that, why do you think Coach Crawford couldn’t see that?

          2. TrueBlueDevil

            Matt, these are two completely different scenarios, so no, I don’t agree. You may need to rethink your comparison (see below).

          3. Matt Williams

            TBD, you are looking at this in Manechean terms (either/or). What prevents this from being a both/and situation?

        1. Matt Williams

          My immediate reaction when I read this post was that it really is the “smoking gun” that appears to indicate that retaliation was very much a part of the decision to coach a young student athlete. It is a shame that the coach couldn’t recognize the same “talented and good with younger students” characteristics that the Harper Jr. High site principal was able to see.

          1. Leigh Choate

            “talented and good with kids” at the junior high level where most volleyball players are new to the sport is entirely different than “talented” enough to play a highly competitive varsity sport at the high school level.

            I am sure that the site principal recognized that this new young coach might be beneficial to the program at harper (the junior high in which she attended) but lets not look past that fact that Nancy was a very dedicated volunteer at Harper for many years and served on various committees there, IMO it is entirely possible that it was a favor and not something based on qualifications. skill level, or coaching experience.

            I am in no way saying this to not give credit where credit is due if it was a valuable experience for both the new coach and the players, I am just saying that the two situations are totally separate and not comparable in terms of the qualifications to make a team.

          2. Matt Williams

            I understand your perspective Leigh, but this is a player who made the Varsity Squad both of the previous years. Is there any reason not to believe this is a both/and situation?

          3. Leigh Choate

            yes, year after year individual talent changes as does the talent pool that teams are chosen from, it is never a given to make a team. Not having a senior make a team that previously played as a junior is not an ideal situation but it does happen even if it isn’t a popular road to take, it might be the best one for any given situation.

            food for thought, what about the players that might be better than a senior, what about those athletes? Is it fair to not take a more talented athlete on a team just because a senior that isn’t as good is taking up a spot? Is it in the best interest of the team to take a player just because they are a senior? This is competitive athletics and not intramural sports or rec ball.

            Not having a senior make a team isn’t ideal, but it is a reality and it does happen. Ultimately, a coach has to make decisions for the team as a whole, even if that means making really tough decisions like not taking a senior.

            The reality is that when someone is better than you at something you get beat out of a spot, and in competitive athletics there are not enough spots for everyone. It happens in athletics, it happens in jobs, and it happens in life. People are not always going to make every team they try out for or get every job they interview for. Is it difficult to be the one that doesn’t make the team or that doesn’t get the job? Yes, and almost all of us have been there in one way or another, but that is what life is all about, how to learn to preserver when things don’t work out the way you would like, failure is one of the best teachers.

          4. Matt Williams

            Leigh, we have been at this juncture of this conversation in a prior thread. You have pointed out that it is “inconvenient” to carry extra players on the varsity squad, and while I agree with you that this is not intramural sports or rec ball, that does not change the fact that all coaches in high school athletics hold in their hands children who are at the the most emotionally vulnerable point that they will ever be in their entire lives. The competition … rather the outcome of the competition … is secondary to the personality building, character building aspects of sports. “It isn’t whether you win or lose, it is how you play the game” isn’t repeated long and loud for no reason.

            I agree that individual talent changes. I also agree that spots on a team need to be provided for the most talented. That is one of the reasons why coaching “convenience” doesn’t trump (for me) flexibility in setting the size of a squad. Regardless of what the squad size is, only the best players are going to play on game day, and the rest are going to ride the pine. What difference does it make whether the number of players on the bench during a game is one more or one less? The absoluteness of “spots” is a reality of game situations that does not have to prescribe the citizen-building that a coach is tasked with doing during all the non-game times, which far outnumber the game times.

            “It” does happen in athletics, jobs, and life … and it is almost always a subjective decision regardless of which of those three venues the decision is being made in. It is also becoming clearer and clerer to me as the additional evidence is being provided to us all that Julie Crawford made a subjective decision to cut a player, and that factors other than the player’s talent and direct performance clearly affected that subjective decision. Coach Crawford’s decision appears to have been very “human” but not very humane.

            With respect to your final paragraph, it appears to me, based on the evidence shared to date, that the lesson that the lesson that Coach Crawford was delivering was not to the younger Ms. Peterson, but rather to the older Ms. Peterson.

          5. TrueBlueDevil

            Matt, and just what new evidence is it that you’ve acquired? I think you’re back to the argument that a senior who made the team the prior year, can’t be cut. While probably over fifty percent of juniors who make a HS team make the team their senior year, it is not one hundred percent. There are many factors to weigh.

            Since you are after new evidence, let me offer some.

            The volleyball season is roughly 28 games. In one game this year, the freshmen player who played the same position as a former player, achieved roughly 50 percent of the former players kills and blocks for a whole season. In one game. And about 35 percent of the Aces. These are objective numbers. (These stats were pulled from maxpreps and The Davis Enterprise.)

          6. Matt Williams

            Those are game stats of a starter. Those stats are meaningless with respect to players who spend the whole game on the bench.

            The new evidence is the coaching assistant gig that the player filled after being cut.

            You clearly are looking at volleyball from the perspective of a win-loss record. Leave that to the players who get paid to play. At the level of high school sports, concentrate on citizen building … one player at a time. The age of the players playing high school sports is the most emotionally vulnerable age any time in the human life span. Keep your eye on that reality, not on a largely meaningless win-loss record.

          7. Hmmm

            Matt, I agree with you on some points. But, “all coaches in high school athletics hold in their hands children who are at the most emotionally vulnerable point that they will ever be in their entire lives” is completely wrong.

            A coach is there to teach/coach a sport. A parent, guardian, a caregiver etc should be there for their child in the vulnerable times. These student athletes are only in “their hands” for 3 months, 3 hours a day, 5 days a week. So 180 to 200 hours out of year.

            I agree only the best players in a high school setting might play, others might ride the pine, like you stated. But there is a huge difference for the role players in all facets of life. Take most jobs in the working sector. You have a team leader (coach), you have lead staff (starters), you have support staff(non-starters). Let’s say you have a support staff member that has attitude, late to work, doesn’t buy into his role, creates animosity with other staff members and can be replaced with a support staff(non-starter) that will support the team leaders mission? To make the team (workplace) better with unity and togetherness. Without losing productivity to the teams goals. Who would you take? Or, why would you keep a support staff member that is unwilling to support a team mission?

          8. Matt Williams

            Good feedback Hmmm, but I think your first two paragraphs look at the roles in an individualistic way rather than in a collaborative way. School teachers only have the students in “their hands” a limited amount of time as well. Are teachers only there to teach/coach an academic subject?

            The dance of adolescence produces at its end an adult. That adult is the result of many and varied inputs. If those inputs work as a collaborative “whole” the end result will be better.

            I fully agree with the example you have laid out in your third paragraph, but like iPadGuy, I have yet to get comfortable with the notion that the young Ms. Peterson had an attitude, was late to work, didn’t buy into her role, created animosity with other staff members and can be replaced with a support staff that will support the team leader’s mission. On the other hand it is crystal clear that the older Ms. Peterson had an attitude, was disruptive with respect to work, didn’t buy into her role, and created animosity with other staff members. There has been a whole lot of discussion about how the older Ms. Peterson was unwilling to support the team mission of Coach Crawford, but precious little discussion of whether the younger Ms. Peterson was unwilling to support the team mission of Coach Crawford.

  7. tj

    Don, Rather than attack Peterson for something she may not be able to help, I offered up my knowledge and experience. I’m not clear what would be wrong with that?
    [edit — Don]

  8. Don Shor

    To all blog participants: I have pulled and/or edited a couple of posts recently that contained psychological analyses of individuals involved in the DJUSD incident, another which implied possible illegal behavior at home, and another which contained a harsh personal characterization.
    Please do not make these sorts of comments. If you have questions, contact me at donshor@gmail.com, or contact David Greenwald at info@davisvanguard.org
    Thanks for your cooperation.
    Don

  9. Dave Hart

    Hold on, Don (if that is your edit in tj’s post above) this entire post is a psychological analysis and the most informative of any I’ve seen on this, what I now agree, is a very sad affair. Nancy Peterson as Captain Ahab, consumed by the quest for vengeance. That is a pretty profound psychological analysis and for the first time I am feeling truly sympathetic to the Peterson family not because of what actions they took, but because of the toll it has taken on them as well as the rest of us in the community. Vengeance is precisely what restorative justice seeks to avoid and it is extremely interesting that Nancy Peterson referenced it without understanding what it implies for her. It’s the Catch-22 of her situation: she can’t see the flies in her eyes because she has flies in her eyes.

    I am personally ready to forgive the Petersons. I wonder what will it take for the Petersons to be ready to forgive. The Moby Dick allusion advances the ability of the community to get there if we embrace it.

    1. Tia Will

      I am fairly sure that mine is going to be a minority and unpopular opinion.

      I feel that the “Moby Dick allusion” does nothing to advance any positive way forward. It paints an entirely one sided picture of events supported by having access to admittedly limited data. I continue to believe that the best conversations are those that exclude our presumed knowledge of the inner workings of the mind and psyche of another. I believe this to be true whether it is David venturing into the realm of mind ( or heart ) reading or any of the posters that insistent on telling others what they think, what they must know, and what their motivations are.
      For me discussion of points of fact, differences of points of view, exploration of differing views on alternatives and options all are useful in furthering a conversation. Speculating on motives rarely does anything other than to raise animosity amongst those with a differing perspective and provide a window into the way the speculator views the world. Often it sheds no light on the actual motives and view points of those involved but just turns back up the heat which is the last thing I believe we need in this circumstance.

      1. Dave Hart

        I disagree. I will guess that 90% or more of the comments on this post are continuing to hash the facts, alleged facts, rumored facts, of the entire episode. It can be rehashed forever. It looks like it may be if all of the comments here are any indication. The fact is that regardless of what actually happened, you have a school district Board in political crisis, an electorate that has had what little confidence it might have had in the DJUSD Board and District staff undermined which in turn puts at risk the willingness of the community to support the schools financially all because of a person who could not separate personal desires from public responsibilities. If you look at it that way, it becomes obvious that the way forward should be aimed at preventing such a small and petty issue from going “Code 3” ever again. That is the only lesson we have a right to take from VB Gate. Paid administrators whose job it was to insist or force sit down face to face mediation years ago didn’t do their job. It festered and allowed Captain Ahab to take the crew on the hunt. That ship should never have been allowed to sail. All this second-guessing about who did what when to who for what reason is water under the bridge. All discussion should focus on how this will be avoided.

  10. Shell

    “In fact, the coach never even bothered to speak to her player of three years.”

    My initial interpretation was also … ‘Her player FOR three years .. What Mrs Peterson said, was ‘ Her player OF three year’.

    Oh boy, what a difference a letter can make.

  11. TrueBlueDevil

    Matt, I admire your desire for more character building, but where do we make the volleyball cutoff? 16, 17, 18 players? I think to truly meet your needs, with upwards of 2,000 students (all units combined), Davis HS needs to be split into two HS to accommodate the 5 or 6 highly competitive sports teams.

    Placating the child of a powerful parent isn’t character building, and coaching a middle school sport is completely different than competing in competitive athletics on a varsity team.

    1. Matt Williams

      You make the cutoff wherever the quality of the player contingent at hand dictates. We adjust up and down classroom size without blinking an eye to accommodate the realities of enrollments and budgets. I see no reason why an arbitrarily set roster size threshold should trump the primary mission of schools … the growth and development of our youth. Just call me iPadGuy.

      With that said, I’d like to ask you to read out loud the first ten words of your second paragraph. Those words resonate with the real issue. For you this isn’t about the student athlete at all. This is about a test of wills between Nancy Peterson and Julie Crawford, and your loyalties are very clear … and very understandable … and very human.

      Regarding the rest of your second sentence, do us all a favor and go to your sports stats site and copy and paste here the number of minutes each of the Davis VB roster members spent competing during the season. I fully expect those numbers will tell a very interesting story about “competing in competitive athletics on a varsity team.” That story can be capsulized by the acronym DNP.

      1. TrueBlueDevil

        Matt, I didn’t create this “test of wills”, Nancy Peterson created that scenario. How many other kids were cut at Davis High this year … 100, 200, 300? How many of them filed complaints, 1, maybe 2? How many bullied their way to an investigation from an outside law firm? 1?

        Better still, has there ever been an outside law firm investigation in the State of California over a cut high school player?

        I think the roster size may have been increased from 12 to 15.

        You seem to be confusing rec ball or intramurals with competitive athletics. BTW, I don’t think 17 is the most crucial age in life … I thought psychology taught us it was 0-6?

        1. Matt Williams

          I agree that Nancy and Bob Peterson effectively created this “test of wills” between the adults, but it appears to me that you are very clearly buying into that “test” and in the process making this all about the adults. Case in point, everything you say in your first two paragraphs above is about the adults.

          Skipping ahead to the roster size, correct me if I am wrong, but aren’t nine players deployed on the VB court by each side in a game? I seem to remember three rows of three players. It may have been 3-2-3, but regardless in order to have two full complements on each side of the net during practice, how can you operate without a squad of 18? … or 16 if the deployment is 3-2-3?

          I didn’t say “the most crucial” I said “the most vulnerable.” Big difference. Children from 0-6 are incredibly resilient. They adapt and absorb. They aren’t going though a life transition where one life phase is being left behind and a new life phase is being opened up. Growth from scratch is indeed crucial, but it doesn’t produce vulnerability. Change breeds vulnerability.

  12. Fremontia

    Here we go again with more bleeding. Sorry to be the one who has to point out that the Principal at the Junior High could have easily been sucking up to a board member by giving that coaching assignment. Seems like you are drinking the kool-aid here Matt supposing you know facts you are not allowed to know and suggesting solutions that are not among the choices currently available to a coach.

    Here is one fact we know. Nancy Peterson’s three minutes are up until the next time the board takes public comment. How anybody can defend her at this point is beyond me. Do you find her actions to be reasonable Matt?

    1. Matt Williams

      Fremontia, I’m not drinking kool aid, just seeking balance in much the same way that iPadGuy was seeking balance before he absented himself.

      When you ask, “do [I] find [Nancy Peterson’s] actions to be reasonable?” you are only asking about the actions of one player in this drama. Do I feel Nancy Peterson’s actions are reasonable … no I do not. However, I also find myself asking the question, do I find Julie Crawford’s actions when cutting the younger Ms. Peterson to be reasonable, and my answer to that question is … no I do not.

      Balance means asking all the questions, not just one selected question.

        1. Matt Williams

          Of course I’m basing that judgment somewhat on speculation. There isn’t a single person involved with this situation who isn’t. Even Julie Crawford is having to speculate about her own actions. What other choice is there? This isn’t an experiment in a Chemistry lab where empirical evidence is being observed real time. Its a messy human situation with myriads of competing subjective influences. It is what it is.

          With that said, you appear to be ready and willing to hogtie Nancy Peterson and brand her with a Scarlet Letter. Is that determination on your part free of speculation?

          1. Fremontia

            No its based on observable behavior and a known history of abuses of power.

            “Somewhat on speculation” you say. How about you base it on what we know as there is much that we know on which one can judge things.

          2. Matt Williams

            I haven’t heard of any “known history of abuses of power” by the younger Ms. Peterson. We have heard plenty about the actions of the two female adults involved, plus plenty about the actions of Dr. Peterson and the various school officials. However, we have hear very little (if anything) about whether the younger Ms. Peterson was detrimental to the team or not.

            The decision whether or not to cut a player should be made by the coach free of any “outside” considerations. I strongly believe the actions of Nancy and Robert Peterson should be divorced from the team selection process. In truth, that is almost impossible to do for the coach, and that is why I think the investigator’s assessment is probably pretty accurate … Julie did let those “external” actions color her decision, but not with any clearly identifiable ill intent.

            The simple reality is that we will never know. Therefore you appear to be arguing that the best decision in this situation is to emulate ostriches and stick our heads in the sand and make no decision at all. Do I have that right?

          3. Fremontia

            We know there was not conclusive evidence of retaliation. We know the board was split. We know the board felt that the punishment was measured and enough and that Julie Crawford apologized for some error. We know that the coach has been reinstated for the fall. We know that Nancy Peterson is unhappy. Too bad Nancy.

          4. TrueBlueDevil

            We don’t have to speculate about the Peterson’s, they’ve made themselves readily available to us.

          5. Matt Williams

            Agreed. We have two separate and distinctly different sets of events.

            First, we have the abuse of power events in which both the Petersons and the School Board and the Administration and the Investigator are the players. Coach Crawford is a pawn in those events.

            Second, we have the events in which Coach Crawford and the younger Ms. Peterson are the players. I strongly believe that the actions of an athlete’s parents should be wholly and completely divorced from any and all team selection processes. If (as appears to be the case in this situation) a team coach feels that they cannot achieve that separation, then it is incumbent on the coach to bring in “reinforcements” … the AD, the site Principal, and even the Superintendent if necessary. Making the decision as a sole operator in such a compromised situation leaves the coach hanging out to dry when and if the parent wields the kind of power that Nancy Peterson eventually wielded … and abused.

          6. Jeff Simons

            It has been explained before that the coach did not make the decision to cut by herself, but was one of four individuals who observed and analyzed the tryouts and decided on the team rosters. I believe Coach Crawford did this deliberately to make the process less subjective and less about her personal feelings. That said, she is the head coach and deserves to make the decisions she feels are best for the team.

          7. Matt Williams

            Jeff, given the reported history of Nancy Peterson, it is one thing to make the decision regarding the roster and it is another thing altogether to execute that decision. The four-person panel does broaden the decision-making, but just as TrueBlueDevil and Fremontia were quick to point out that the Harper Junior High site Principal may have had political/personal allegiances to Nancy Peterson when offering the younger Ms. Peterson the student coaching position, it is easy to speculate that the possibility that all four panel members had had past run ins with Nancy is not out of the realm of possibility. Julie may have felt that the four-person panel was enough of a CYA step, but 20/20 hindsight says that it wasn’t enough.

          8. hmmm

            I just read that the Harper Jr. high principal job is open due to the current principal retiring. Anyone know if it is because of this fiasco?

          9. Matt Williams

            Jeff and TBD, out of curiosity, who chose the members of the four person selection committee? Do any of the four hold positions in the DHS Administration at a higher level than Julie Crawford?

            Also, does Julie Crawford have a history of using similar multi-person selection committees, or was this the first instance of such a use?

          10. TrueBlueDevil

            Matt, curious as to how you came to conclude the last paragraph. On what basis do you think there is not “separation”? All I’ve read is that there is a 72-page investigation that even Coach Crawford could not read, or reply to, which a Vanguard reader (and attorney) agreed violated California employment law in two different ways.

            We know that the coach asked for help from her superiors, and none was forthcoming. We know she had a 4-person selection committee, but we don’t know if the high-priced lawyers interviewed them. We know that when the education board implored the parties to seek mediation, she immediately agreed, but the Peterson’s were silent. We know that she is studying for a masters degree in athletic administration or such, so she’s no slouch.

            She was not a “sole operator”, she was part of a 4-person selection committee.

            Yes, I think the coach was a pawn between the administration, the school board, and an unhinged member. There had to be some way to stop this unending harassment of the coach by one person.

          11. Matt Williams

            Matt, curious as to how you came to conclude the last paragraph. On what basis do you think there is not “separation”?

            We all know from Dr. Peterson’s leaking of the investigation letter, that the investigor found that there was retaliation on the part of Coach Crawford, but not malicious intent in that retailiation. Retaliation against a parent is by definition a failure to maintain separation.

            I used a bad choice of words. The decision to cut was made by the group of four, but the execution of the cut itself was (to the best of my knowledge) not a meeting of five people, but rather a meeting of two people.

            Regarding your last paragraph, that is a separate issue from the roster action, and the schaool board should be proactively taking steps to deal with that issue. If they don’t then there will be another failure of leadership on record.

          12. TrueBlueDevil

            Thanks. Yes, we know of the summary letter written by Matt Best (who some question). This letter includes the wild charge of “incompetence” for a two time COY.

            We know that apparently Coach Crawford was given something to read – the same summary, or a different summary? – in a limited time frame, under stressful conditions, and her reply moved Tim Taylor enough that he was backpedaling, giving praise, and such. It sounded like he had made his decision before ever hearing the “other side” of the story. What kind of Banana Republic is the DJUSD running? And hours later he gave what I would term a very public mea culpa to Bob Dunning regarding the coach, again lauding her in a highly unusual move.

            The flip-flopping raises more questions than answers.

            Given that we are in America’s Second Most Educated City, I find it baffling and apparently illegal that the employee was unable to read her personnel file and the “investigation”. This sounds like something out of Alabama in 1965.

            Matt, you sound like a fair man. Does this sound right or fair? And given how some question the performance of Best and Robeson, and we known the Peterson’s bent, doesn’t this smell to high hell?

            Given all that we have witnessed, I think that is why most of the public is soundly behind the coach.

  13. TrueBlueDevil

    Matt, in the decades I have followed and participated in athletics, I have never heard of a parent in California pushing for a formal investigation by an outside law firm, let alone for a reserve player. If you can provide us with a few links where this has happened, I’m sure we’ll find them interesting.

    It is not common for freshmen players to make a varsity squad, let alone make a big impact. So congratulations to the young players, their parents, and the coaching staff for recognizing, with their expert qualifications, that they had young, talented players.

    I can tell you from personal experience there are typically very hard feelings in these cases. I saw it decades ago when a coach saw two freshmen players as equal to two seniors, so he started the freshmen with huge upside. Several players quit. On another team I played for, a sophomore player was first a prominent sub, and quickly usurped the role of a starting senior player who was a veteran, but nothing special. After the sophomore player started one game, the senior quit. In the two cases I note, all three of the young star players went on to lead their teams to several successful seasons, and they received multiple DI scholarship offers. One went on to play for USC, another Santa Clara.

    1. Matt Williams

      TBD, starting with your final paragraph first, I was told in an e-mail today from a regular Vanguard poster that the younger Ms. Peterson actually made the Varsity squad as a Freshman. Can you confirm that?

      Regarding your initial paragraph, you continue to merge all the various actions by all the various players into a single evaluation. The actions of the Petersons, no matter how extreme they may be, are external to the coach’s decision and actions about the makeup of the team roster. Similarly, the actions of Julie Crawford in determining the VB roster, no matter how right or wrong they may have been, are external to Nancy Peterson’s decision to abuse the power of her office and chastise an employee from the dais.

      1. hmmm

        Matt, my research through MaxPreps, does not show she made Varsity as a Freshman. She may have been called up for playoffs which is not uncommon for most sports or if there were injuries and they needed bodies. Not my opinion, just a quick search on MaxPreps.

  14. Don Shor

    If ever was a case where ‘extenuating circumstances’ applied, it was this one. Yes, there is a policy against retaliation. There is some evidence that the investigators concluded the coach ‘retaliated’ against the parents in cutting the daughter from the team. We don’t know what that evidence entailed. There is also, it seems, a general policy that coaches have discretion in making up their team rosters, and I think it is understood that there is some subjectivity involved in that process.

    One of the reasons I oppose zero-tolerance policies is precisely because of situations like this. And I don’t think that the ‘no retaliation’ policy is considered zero-tolerance. We have considerable evidence of a long campaign of harassment, intimidation, misuse of position, inappropriate public behavior by the parent, and abuse of policy by a trustee. It isn’t unreasonable to conclude that the litany of complaints was intended to establish a condition from which the coach could be accused of something – toward the goal of getting her removed from position.

    The extenuating circumstance that prevails is the behavior of the parents and the trustee. Regardless of whether the coach might have been retaliating that behavior was so egregiously wrong that it seems that any punishment of the coach is unwarranted. Hence, much of the community has concluded that the Board majority, in acting against the coach and upholding the complaint spawned by the parents/trustee, came to a decision that was wrong and harmful.

    The Board acted narrowly when they could and should have considered the total context of what happened. And nobody trusts that Board majority to review the policies and practices effectively to prevent further incidents of this sort. Because apparently the Board majority is unable to see the harm they’ve perpetrated. One trustee commented that they would be meeting with the coaches and faculty to discuss this issue, but without the trust of those coaches and faculty their meeting will likely be fruitless.

    They need outside help. District coaches need reassurance that they still have control of their rosters, and that the subjectivity they have to use in choosing their teams will be upheld. Other teachers need to know they won’t ever be subjected to this kind of behavior again. It is very difficult to see how the students can be helped by any Board action at this time. The simple truth is, hardly anybody trusts this Board any more to do the right thing about this issue. It has been so muddled and mishandled that they’ve lost credibility, and until they recognize that it will just remain as a blot on their legacies.

  15. Tia Will

    My mind keeps going back to a statement made in an earlier thread that Ms. Crawford had expressed “contrition”.

    Interesting choice of word. Contrition is defined as “sincere penitence or remorse”

    I believe that this term is usually used in the situation in which one believes that his/her own actions have in some way led to an undesirable result. If there were no possibility that Ms. Crawford’s actions were at least in part due to some other factor other than the mathematical superiority of some other student over Ms. Peterson, why would she have experienced contrition ?

    I stand firmly against the manner in which this issue was handled by the Peterson parents. Having said this, I see, in her own expression that possibility that Ms. Crawford’s actions were perhaps not beyond reproach. If this is true, she has surely paid the price.

    Nancy Peterson has also paid the price for her own transgressions.

    I do not agree with Don Shor that the school board should not be given the opportunity to examine the processes that got us to this unfortunate point. I do not believe that a “head count” of the community should be the deciding factor in the investigative process. My preference would be to give them a chance and see what comes out of it.

    1. Don Shor

      If there were no possibility that Ms. Crawford’s actions were at least in part due to some other factor other than the mathematical superiority of some other student over Ms. Peterson, why would she have experienced contrition

      As I said before, if only the stats (or, as you call it, mathematical superiority) of the players were the deciding criteria, teams could just be selected by computers.

      I do not agree with Don Shor that the school board should not be given the opportunity to examine the processes that got us to this unfortunate point.

      The Board would, typically, entrust that review to the administrators. That’s who implemented the processes. So, while self-examination can be a useful exercise, it rarely results in effective policy changes.

      We have one board member who really just wants to put all this behind her as she seeks council election. Two others are leaving the board. They still have to appoint a replacement or declare an election to fill the vacancy. And there is, of course, the other business of the district to attend to.

      They would be well advised to hand this off to someone else. More likely, I’d guess, they’ll just half-heartedly ask for a review of some sort (if that), and hope all the furor dies down, and do nothing of consequence.

    2. TrueBlueDevil

      I’d like to see the quote, and source, of this alleged “contrition” comment by the coach, which is new to me.

      I do know that when the board begged and pleaded and pushed for the parties to mediate, Coach Crawford immediately agreed, and the Peterson’s were silent.

      We’ll get some new data on complaints, investigations, and the cost of the original Choate-Peterson investigation sometime this next week, which will add more information.

      Lastly, I’m not sure any policy or procedure can work when you have a person in power who is on a mission, unless the other power players and leaders step up and enforce existing rules / procedures.

      1. Matt Williams

        Lastly, I’m not sure any policy or procedure can work when you have a person in power who is on a mission, unless the other power players and leaders step up and enforce existing rules / procedures.

        I agree 100%. The “other power players” absolutely did need to step up. Further, those “other power players” should hae created a culture in the school district where a coach like Julie Crawford,facing this kind of difficult situation would hae felt very comfortable in escalating the situation to the AD, the site Principal, the Superintendent, and even the School Board itself before the roster decision / roster action was made.

        It isn’t clear whether Julie Crawford had that kind of support and simply didn’t avail herself of it, or whether that kind of support didn’t exist.

        1. TrueBlueDevil

          So we have some common ground. I believe I’ve read that she sought help from numerous superiors, and none was forthcoming. (I have tangentially asked if there was any chance that NP had any hand in the downfall of the DHS, which was rumored, but I got no solid feedback.)

          I have suggested that the school district identify something similar to a vexatious litigant (in law) to denote an individual who is abusing the system or process. If a parent files 3 or 4 complaints in a year, they are evaluated to see if there is a mushrooming problem. Nip it in the bud.

          Another option might be to transfer the student, if the issues become so intractable and all-consuming.

          A third option might be for a person in power to accumulate a dossier – which they probably already have – on such a person (parent), and maybe have a “sit down” and tell them that if the behavior continues, charges for harassment will be brought by the DJUSD. Teachers, staff, and coaches have a right to a safe working environment.

          I’m just thinking out loud, cause I’ve heard watered down words about “process” and “procedure” that seem to have no teeth.

  16. Dave Hart

    90% or more of the comments on this post are continuing to hash the facts, alleged facts, rumored facts, of the entire episode. Almost none of the posts have to do with what David wrote. It can be rehashed forever. It looks like it may be if all of the comments here are any indication. The fact is that regardless of what actually happened, you have a school district Board in political crisis, an electorate that has had what little confidence it might have had in the DJUSD Board and District staff undermined which in turn puts at risk the willingness of the community to support the schools financially all because of a person who could not separate personal desires from public responsibilities. If you look at it that way, it becomes obvious that the way forward should be aimed at preventing such a small and petty issue from going “Code 3” ever again. That is the only lesson we have a right to take from VB Gate.

    Paid administrators whose job it was to insist on a sit down, face to face mediation years ago didn’t do their job. It festered and allowed Captain Ahab to take the crew on the hunt. That ship should never have been allowed to sail. All this second-guessing about who did what when to who for what reason is water under the bridge. The way forward is in the hands of the DJUSD Board with this really tragic set of events as the impetus for action.

  17. Grassroots

    It seems the healthiest part of the discussion was not attended to by the majority of our community. I believe each did the best with the skills and tools they currently possess. Left unanswered is how can we best solve human conflict with the new communication tools available? How can community members help each other move toward a justice that heals? Process not content, yield the most promise for justice. This felt like a replay of the puritanical scarlet letter guilt and blame. So much condemnation so little compassion. Please look into restorative justice as an alternative.

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