My View: The Lonesome Death of Reason and Proportionality

Board listens to public comment prior to appeal hearing on Thursday night
Board listens to public comment prior to appeal hearing on Thursday night

Should We Be Surprised by School Board Decision? – It was a long night on Thursday, sitting, waiting – the mind wonders under those conditions.  At some point the thought came to mind that, with four members, maybe they would end up deadlocked.  As it turned out there was never even a second vote to overturn the appeal.

There is a natural tendency to second guess a governing body when they make a decision that one tends to disagree with.  In this case I would tend to believe that is a little dangerous – after all, the public has not read the report.  Even the “accused” or the “appellant” was not allowed to read the report until apparently they were in closed session – that is part of why the process took so long.

My first thought then on Thursday night, which quickly bled into Friday morning, was how could the community second-guess the school board when only the school board and administrators actually read the report?

That is where Gina Daleiden’s dissent is critical.  First, let me give Ms. Daleiden praise.  For the last month, she spent a lot of time trying to get this process right.  She worked hard to inform the public as much as possible and she worked hard to make sure the process was as open and transparent as possible.

At the end of the day, I feel that she and I saw pretty close to eye-to-eye on this issue.  Her words on Thursday night make it very clear that she did not see that this issue rose to the level that her colleagues did.

“I do believe that our district’s response to complaints and the way that we handle the procedure and the investigations needs to be in proportion,” Gina Daleiden stated.  “I do believe in this instance the district went Code 3 on something that maybe didn’t warrant that.”

“I do not find in reading the investigation that there is a preponderance of evidence to support the findings and the conclusions,” she said.  She added that they “ended up jumping right into the deep end of the pool” and she would have preferred to have seen this resolved “at a much lower level, a whole lot earlier.”

I think the entire school board is serious about looking to alternative conflict resolution processes, and those of us who believe that restorative justice is an approach that could help resolve these conflicts before they end up in an official board hearing should take some solace in the apparent commitment that the board has to look into those very types of conflict resolution processes.

Unfortunately in this case, while Julie Crawford seemed very willing to go through a mediation process, it takes two to tango and apparently Nancy Peterson was never open to resolving this in a way other than what unfolded.

Ms. Daleiden’s response gives those of us who disagree with the board ruling the solace that we have a solid foundation to believe that the majority of board members simply saw this conflict in a different light.  Like Gina Daleiden, I see this as a tempest in a teapot that Nancy Peterson attempted to incite into something wholly disproportionate to what it was.

Investigator Alexander Sperry would apparently agree when he concluded the absence of “willful mal-intent” on the part of Julie Crawford.  Without malice, how can we understand the notion of retaliation?

Retaliation can be generally understood as the act of seeking revenge upon another.  In this case, it seems that the school board understood the act of retaliation in the loosest of all possible terms, embraced in the notion that the decision to cut the Peterson’s daughter was “influenced at least in part” by the broader conflict between Nancy Peterson and Julie Crawford.

The three board members apparently took any evidence at all that “retaliation” occurred as necessary and sufficient to uphold the district and investigator’s ruling.  But the weakness of the evidence becomes apparent in the school board’s own remedy to the transgression.

Rather than banning Ms. Crawford, they essentially encouraged her to simply reapply for her former position and all but promised to hire her back upon her doing so.  And while there are some technical questions, apparently, Ms. Crawford will even be allowed to be a volunteer assistant coach for the boys right now.

Some people took this remedy as some sort of compromise, but I take it slightly differently – a tacit acknowledgement that the Petersons made a mountain out of a molehill in all of this and that the district became a willing partner in this drama.

These thoughts are clear when you re-read Tim Taylor’s comments, where he stated that this was the first time, he said, that he and the board had a chance to listen and ask questions of Ms. Crawford.

“I was given great comfort by that opportunity,” he said.  “What I saw and heard has definitely affected my actions here this evening and my thoughts about this entire process.”

“Our decision here this evening, will allow that pursuit of hers – which she spoke to eloquently earlier – to continue,” Tim Taylor stated.  “There were some mistakes made.  What we now need to do is learn from those, not repeat those, and move forward.”

In other words, reading between the lines, it seems that, unlike the public comments throughout by Nancy Peterson, Julie Crawford offered contrition and at the same time a passionate plea to be able to continue coaching and the board was clearly moved by her passion.

The Fallout

All of this leads me to once again ponder the depths to which Nancy Peterson sunk herself.  It seems that Nancy Peterson allowed her anger and ultimately her need for revenge to consume and destroy herself.   “Wrong us, shall we not revenge,” is necessarily softened by the introduction of notions of forgiveness and redemption, which are the better angels of our nature.

The tragedy becomes clear in the resolution by the school district.  Had Nancy Peterson – as we have stated so many times – simply stayed silent, all of this could have been avoided.  She was undone first by her inappropriate comments in July and then by a series of actions her family took: the leak, her husband’s comment, and then her column was the ultimate immediate cause of her resignation.

Four relatively insignificant and ultimately unnecessary actions in a much broader string of conflicts caused her to resign her position less than 18 months into her elective term.

Thursday’s ruling brings her no vindication, however.  If anything, it paints her actions in an even more negative light.  For if the district responded with a Code 3 to what Gina Daleiden described as “something that maybe didn’t warrant” that type of response, Nancy Peterson declared global thermonuclear war in what should have been handled by a few rounds of diplomatic talks.

Thursday’s result made her actions leading up to and following this immediate conflict completely unnecessary and underscores the tragic nature of her resignation.

One can only wonder what would have happened had her op-ed been more conciliatory and shown a willingness to move past the situation rather than digging into Defcon 1 position where retraction and mediation could not have occurred.

In many ways, the second fallout in this might be Sheila Allen.  We have really avoided discussing this during the interplay, but Sheila Allen was board president last year when the escalation occurred.  It is easy to second guess decisions that could have been made.  However, at least in retrospect, the fact that no one spoke out when Nancy Peterson publicly criticized a district employee last July is troubling.

On Thursday, Sheila Allen made some strong points in her lengthy prepared remarks.  We do not know when those remarks were prepared but some of them were clearly thoughtful.

Personnel issues are troublesome and problematic for both the public and board members.

Ms. Allen was absolutely correct when  she said, “I hear loud and clear your desires for transparency.”

She added, “It is very hard to say I can’t comment because it’s a personnel issue.  I do not make personnel laws… but I’m bound by it.  So please understand that your elected officials are doing the very best they can with the information that they have and hopefully that information contains all sides of any issue.”

At the same time, she went where Robert Peterson went with the issue of anonymous comments.

Sheila Allen would state on Thursday, “I’m very concerned about the social media postings that occurred surrounding this issue.  I am very supportive of an open dialogue and absolutely support public input and dialogue.”

“But,” she continued.  “I’m very concerned about the tone and accusations that have occurred behind the façade of anonymous comments.  Let us be the models for our children of civil dialogue and working together to solve our community problems.”

The tech in me wants to make the point that social media comments are by their nature NOT anonymous and Ms. Allen is conflating the posts in comments sections of the Vanguard and Enterprise with social media.

That technical point aside, I actually disagree with her core point.  There is a perception, and I think Tia Will laid it out very clearly yesterday, that the Vanguard is a focal point of strongly negative anonymous comments.

The truth is that, while there was a time when the comments were extremely vitriolic in the Vanguard, we have worked very hard over the years to clean them up.

We have largely avoided mean-spirited attacks that lack any substance – those get pulled quickly by our dedicated moderator.  What remains can be pointed but largely substantive comments.

There seems to be a tendency in the community to dislike comments that are critical of public officials.  At the same time, they miss the clear benefit of what to me was a huge crowdsourcing endeavor, where public comments led to follow-up inquiries and many of the comments and stories were confirmed.  Some were not and we tried to debunk the false information and confirm the correct information.

As we wrote last week, it was because of the ability of the public and those with key information to come forward in a safe and non-threatening environment that the truth came out over the last few weeks.

So while I understand the concern about contentious nature of the comments at times – I do not think, at least on the Vanguard, the comments were over-the-top.  We avoided attacks on the minor children and largely focused on attempting to understand the facts.  I would argue this played a beneficial role in the process rather than a negative one.

No one likes to be criticized and no one likes conflict, but this was a contentious issue and I’m proud that the Vanguard’s discussions never degraded into tit-for-tat personal feuding.

One of the fallouts that we will be watching is the impact of this controversy on the city council election.  Yesterday there were some fairly prominent citizens, including an elected official, who posted on Facebook that they were pulling their endorsements of Sheila Allen.

Is this a temporary phenomenon that will quickly pass?  It is easy to react in the immediate aftermath in frustration and anger.  It bears watching.

Finally, I am troubled by the appeals process itself.  Julie Crawford was not permitted to see the report by investigators prior to the appeal hearing.  Board President Gina Daleiden has likened the process to a quasi-judicial process.

But if that is the case, then the withholding of the report and hence the nature of the accusations against Ms. Crawford renders the entire process closer to something out of Kafka’s “The Trial” where the protagonist had to navigate through a system without knowledge of the charges against him or the process under which he would be subjected.

How Ms. Crawford could offer an adequate defense without knowledge of the report is mindboggling, but then again par for the course.

The immediate controversy is over.  The public who supported Julie Crawford will understandably be upset by the immediate ruling, but the school board has tough issues to tackle.

We do not believe the conflict of interest policy goes nearly far enough; the district needs to make a lot of changes to this process.  It is our belief that this conflict should have never risen to the level that it ultimately did.

We remain troubled by the large expenditure of money, time and community turmoil and the fact that no one within the district or the board was able to stop this runaway train.  Really, this was unacceptable.

And now we are left with the possibility of an appointment process and four new board members by November.  Stay tuned.

—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. Tia Will

    “Rather than banning Ms. Crawford, they essentially encouraged her to simply reapply for her former position and all but promised to hire her back upon her doing so.”

    I am perplexed about why this is seen as so weak a stance. If Ms. Crawford expressed contrition in private conversation, the implication is that she found something in her own actions worthy of contrition. If this is the case, then certainly a brief “time out” as was expressed by posters on a previous thread might be warranted. This is a well established mechanism for reinstatement into full participance in our community when one has breeched a rule or law ( in this case the possibility of retaliation in its broadest sense). We as a society have decided that when one breaks a rule, there is a penalty to be paid and that once that penalty is paid, one should be fully reinstated in the community, not sentenced to exile.

    Now it would appear that at least some members of the community are willing to continue to punish not only Nancy Peterson, but also Sheila Allen for her perceived transgression. I would urge that the community use the same standard of generosity to all involved as the school board extended to Ms. Crawford in inviting her to reapply.

    1. David Greenwald

      The point I was making in this column is the lack proportionality of the original response – expense, community strife – to the ultimate findings.

    2. TrueBlueDevil

      We have bonafide proof that Nancy Peterson tried to get Coach Crawford fired three times. We have numerous examples of Nancy Peterson attempting to micromanage the volleyball program.

      We still have no proof of retaliation by Coach Crawford. Indeed, we do have proof that a rare occurrence happened – two outstanding freshmen joined the program, which was unfortunate for less-qualified players.

      1. hpierce

        It is not important that “we” have ‘proof’. It is important that the Board felt they had sufficient evidence, one way or the other, to make an informed, rational, ethical decision.

  2. fremontia

    We can’t know what was in the report so we should not have any faith in a split decision, especially when the dissenting member spelled it out so clearly. The numerous mistakes and cowardly actions of the district administration and its governing board in the case of Julie Crawford demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that this “quasi-judicial” process became what is better known as a kangaroo court. The reality is they protected their top administrators and those administrators numerous contemptuous decisions at the expense of the coach’s career and reputation not to mention the frivolous expense to the district. You heard it directly from Daleiden but as you point out you also heard it from Taylor, who, with a few word changes, could have used his remarks in an awards ceremony for one of Crawford’s coach of the year celebrations.

    Yet oddly, the tell in the story was actually Lovenburg, who talked the least, but spoke about consideration of the “factors” instead of the facts. This was not a slip of the tongue and reveals that this was a political decision instead of a judicial one. A judicial decision is based on the facts of the case while a political decision takes into account the impact of a decision on the the institution itself including whatever “factors” might come under public scrutiny.

    A few commenters wrote yesterday about the board “splitting the baby” but Taylors remarks about stopping the bleeding are more on point. While it seems they sought to try to stop the bleeding they ended up with more metaphorical blood on their hands with Julie Crawford’s career path damaged and in play, the community angry and divided, the overbearing parents of Davis more in doubt of the intentions and decision making abilities of their children’s teachers, and the teachers morale badly damaged wondering if they might be the next victim of an overzealous and dangerously obsessed but connected, rich, self-serving parent.

    Topping it all off was Sheila Allen’s turn at losing it on the dais with remarks that, because they were prepared, reveal a contemptuous revulsion of free speech that calls into question her fitness to take any oath that requires her to uphold the constitution. Allen like Rob Peterson, who at least was a private citizen, are unprepared for a world where I can write some screed and immediately have it broadcast to anyone interested to read it and I can do it, thanks to David, anonymously. In fairness, Allen has taken some unfair and petty abuse about the graduation celebration of her son last year. She could have responded that by having him go last she thought she was she was signaling that she understood her privilege and was trying not to abuse it. She could also have apologized to anyone who was offended by being forced to wait while she indulged her desire to savor her moment of joy at her child’s graduation. In doing so she would have won the argument by humanizing it. Instead she seemed combative, lecturing and in favor of censorship after having just voted wrong on an emotional decision with consequences that are yet to fully play out in the community. Finally she did this in a room full of Crawford supporters after having just voted to give Nancy Peterson her undeserved and repulsive due.

      1. Tia Will

        And I see this analysis as completely over the top, and as disproportionate to what has actually occurred as Ms. Daleiden’s assessment of going “Code 3”.

        With the amount of community support that Ms.Crawford has, I honestly do not see this as significantly affecting either her reputation or her career in the long run. Ms. Peterson on the other hand essentially self destructed in terms of her ability to positively affect the community at this time.
        If the destruction of Ms. Peterson is felt warranted by any commenter, they got what they wanted, so is it not yet time to back off and consider that what we are discussing is two sports seasons in a small city. Do we really need to consider this “blood sport ” ?

        1. hpierce

          Please, the Board member’s ‘injury’ was self-inflicted. The ‘community’ never got to the point of demanding her resignation, nor recalling her. Didn’t happen. There were some ‘voices’, but you don’t have to ‘listen to the voices’. I do think the Board member did the right thing, for herself, her family, the District, and the community.

          1. Tia Will

            Perhaps you missed the words “self destructed” in my post ?
            And if you do not believe that there were calls for Ms. Peterson’s resignation, just go back and read the previous threads on the Vanguard.

          2. hpierce

            K… my apologies, for missing your nuance. If YOU read the past posts, you’d realize that I was one of the first to suggest the possibility of ‘recall’. Peace. We need it.

          3. Tia Will

            Agreed. I find it a shame that there remain those who apparently do not agree with David and Gina Dalieden’s view that proportionality has been lost In my view . this is true not only o the administration and the board, but also by many in the commenting community.

          1. Tia Will

            The repair process will take much less time if people stop being vindictive about it now.

          2. Don Shor

            The problem is that a terrible precedent has been set, and district policies, practices, and staff have been revealed to be very inadequate. And in the absence of recognition of what a mess has been made, it will be necessary to keep reiterating it until the Board members acknowledge their screw-up. It discourages me that we are likely to see NO progress in addressing this, and the other coaches are basically left out to dry, until the incumbents leave office. So 2014 continues with the school board in a muddle, a coach shafted by a terrible decision, and probably nothing remaining to accomplish.
            This school board has rendered itself a lame duck. And the decision was a turkey.

          3. hpierce

            Look at your adjectives Don [see also Fremontia’s]. Looks like you seek ‘mea culpas’ all around, and that might not even satisfy. I agree changes need to be made, but I see little point in ‘picking scabs’… we need to tell the Board, in no uncertain terms, that this was a cluster-****, and that we expect more from remaining trustees and any new ones.

            But I still see no reason to drag the children farther into it.

          4. Jim Frame

            This school board has rendered itself a lame duck. And the decision was a turkey.

            Hey, add in the fact that the administration was afraid to stand up to a Board member — they were chicken — and we have a complete turducken!

          5. fremontia

            Forgetaboutit. People are still angry. The damage is still being felt. Sheila Allen is running for city council and is in the middle of a campaign. Expect the after effects of the vote to punish Crawford to last for a long time. You can’t do what they did and expect then to go oh its over now let’s move on. Julie Crawford cannot simply move on and i have no intention of letting any of the people who voted to allow this travesty to transpire to put it behind them.

          6. hpierce

            Ahhh… desire for retaliation, again. But wait… isn’t ‘retaliation’, by board Member an/or Coach, how we got here? When you find yourself in a hole, first, stop digging…

          7. fremontia

            I’m not a board member or a coach or an employee of the district. I am barely an apparition. I am an anonymous blogger. I have no ability to retaliate against anyone. I have nothing but the power of words and persuasion to further my cause. But I will freely admit that I am angry and believe that Julie Crawford has been treated horribly by the Superintendent who was supported by the school board. I believe they did this for no good reason as explained by Gina Deleiden. I believe like Don Shor that those who perpetuated and supported the actions taken against Julie Crawford have expressed insufficient remorse or corrective action and I’m going give voice to those beliefs for some time to come.

          8. Tia Will


            So would it be safe to say that you value your anger and keeping dissension alive within our community above any restorative process ?

    1. SouthofDavis

      Fremontia wrote:

      > Allen has taken some unfair and petty abuse about the
      > graduation celebration of her son last year.

      Most people are honest that they work hard to get the best for their kids and try and get special things for their kids. I think that the actions of Allen (and Peterson) have rubbed so many people the wrong way is that while they are up in front of everyone telling how they want to help the “underprivileged” and “poor” they are really doing even more than a typical parent to get the best for their (upper middle class privileged) kids and using their position of power to get special treatment for their kids that other parents don’t have access to.

    2. hpierce

      I find Fremontia’s apparent [pun unintended] logic interesting… the Coach was not subject to something being “taken away”, but denied a new contract “given”. Unless Coach or Fremontia believes Coach was “ENTITLED” (vested?) to receive a new contract, I don’t think the earlier decision constitutes a negative personnel issue.

      That being said, we’ll probably never know if the Admin felt “pressured” to not recommend approval of a new VSA, inappropriately, or if they were using their independent judgement, which is what we pay them to do. I hope Coach applies, if she is so inclined, in the future, and that her application is reviewed w/o any consideration to nonsense that has happened to date. And, if there are better qualified candidates, they should be the one chosen.

      1. fremontia

        This is nonsense. She was the coach last year the A.D. and the principal had her in place for this year. The District Admin and the school board pulled the rug out from under her. The district Superintendent did so at the last minute right before the season started after she had long been under the impression that she would be the coach. Only in the most technical sense is there any merit to your argument. In reality they took away her career and tried to damage her reputation. This woman has been subjected to the most offensive harassment in her job for the longest time. Any transgression that transpired and then used as an excuse to play gotcha to someone who has suffered the continued abuse this woman has suffered is guilty of the same game of beat the devil that the school board perpetuated last Thursday. I find the who thing repulsive and disgusting and anyone who wants to defend it is as guilty as the rest.

        1. hpierce

          They “took away her career”? So she is no longer a teacher? Or, did she just forgo a VSA for one season? Too much drama. I do not find anything that has occurred as ‘defensible’, but if you are so much into the drama, Fremontia, feel free to find me “guilty and repulsive”, even though I repeatedly criticized the former Board member, and have repeatedly backed Coach, but perhaps not as much as you thought I should. You have little to no credibility to me. Hell, ask for the death penalty for me. I do not care about your opinion. I pray that you are not a teacher of children.

          There is NO credible evidence, unless you interpret the recent vote as such, that the Board had any part in this. If District Admin pulled the rug, show evidence, and they should be held responsible. The former board member was VERY CLEARLY out of line, and she did the ‘honorable thing’.

          “They” tried to take away her reputation? Who is “they” other than possibly the former board member and her spouse? I believe the coach’s reputation is intact, and this is a hiccup.

          Suggest you get into an EAP.

          1. fremontia

            Yeah she still has her day job but that is what coaches do for a living its not what they are most passionate about. They are passionate about coaching and watching the kids they mentor in that role as coach develop and mature. They took that away from her.They took away from her the part of her job for which she has the most passion and gives her the most joy and pride. I believe that Tim Taylor knows it. You could hear it in his words. You could hear his regret as he caught himself lamenting what they had just done to her halfway through his remarks. I believe he understood that she is exactly what you want in a teacher and a coach. But he voted to screw her over anyway. Its all indefensible and I’m sorry if I’m being a little hard on you for trying to tease out a subtle point but I am pretty angry and not in a forgiving mood. I may eventually get there but it is hard to forgive those who have shown no regret for their deplorable actions. There has been much damage done for no good reason. Those who think the aggrieved are going to calm down so that Davis can return to business as usual are going to be sorely disappointed.

          2. hpierce

            And, I repeat, for others who may be as dense as I am, I have consistantly supported Coach, have occaisionally maligned the former Board member, but do not understand the continuing “blood lust”. Please keep the students out of this. All of my children have graduated/moved on, so I have no dog in this fight, but there seems to be those who want this to stay ‘toxic’ as long as possible. I guess I just don’t understand this, given the nominal stipend that Coach would have earned. I wish her well, and hope, if she is so inclined, she ill apply for a subsequent VSA. I do NOT understand Fremontia’s attacks on my writings… but then again, I only have a Batchelor’s degree, and two professional registrations that take more knowledge/effort than a standard teacher, so I guess I’m not qualified to have an opinion. At least in Fremontia’s eyes.

          3. Mr.Toad

            I’m sure she will apply to be a coach again but there is a reasonable chance it won’t be in DJUSD. She is what you call “highly qualified.” She is what anyone with any brains wants to be a coach in their district. If she stays and weathers the storm and gets her coaching job back in the fall it will be a miracle and Davis will have dodged a huge bullet. But if I’m her I apply to any open position. Its easy to do now with on line applications. After all this abuse nobody would blame her.

          4. hpierce

            How would I contact them, given I have no children in any school program? I’m calling you on your dismissive response. Even tho’ I really respect you. You’re saying I don’t know what the s**t I’m talking about.

          5. Don Shor

            I am saying that the precedent the school board has set is seriously detrimental to teachers and, especially, the other coaches. They have undermined them badly.
            The coach was put in a no-win situation, which the board member then took advantage of. The Board allowed the board member to abuse her position. The independent judgment and discretion of coaches in the entire district have now been rendered null by this action.
            This is the worst possible outcome for everyone involved, including:
            — every coach in the district
            — every child of a board member
            — Coach Crawford
            — the district administrators, who have received about as muddled a message as they could imagine (the action is upheld, but the coach can reapply? so what standard is set by that?).
            I really don’t sense that the board majority recognize what they have done.

          6. hpierce

            Let’s see… you say they “took away” something that was not given (unless you believe it was an ‘entitlement’). I read that she was able to ‘volunteer’ to follow her “passion”… One of my “passions” is to be a AYSO referee… never got paid for that… it is my “passion”. Have done it for over 20 years. I’d ‘yellow’ or ‘red card’ a number of you for ‘unsportsmanlike conduct’. Let’s learn, move on, and think about the students’ welfare.

          7. fremontia

            You seem hung up on the money but then use an example of your own passion not being about the money. Its not the money at the high school level. Its not the money for Julie Crawford. Its that she has done and wants to do the best by those kids and for that she has suffered the nastiest abuse. First by a vindictive and craven mother and school board member, then by that members family, then by the at will Superintendent who didn’t have the courage to tell the board member and her husband no and finally by a school board that felt it necessary to provide cover for the mistakes of their underperforming administrators. You talk about red card and yellow card as if this is a game. I don’t find someone’s career to be a game. Too bad if you are offended by my anger. You claim I’m nothing to you anyway so why should it matter. It certainly doesn’t matter to me that you don’t like me holding public servants and petty politicians accountable for their actions. So let us disagree on the appropriate course that should be pursued and debate our positions on the merits.

          8. fremontia

            You seem hung up on the money but then use an example of your own passion not being about the money. By the way its not the money at the high school level. Its not the money for Julie Crawford. Its that she has done and wants to do the best by those kids and for that she has suffered the nastiest abuse. First by a vindictive and craven mother and school board member, then by that members family, then by the at will Superintendent who didn’t have the courage to tell the board member and her husband no and finally by a school board that felt it necessary to provide cover for the mistakes of their underperforming administrators. You talk about red card and yellow card as if this is a game. I don’t find someone’s career to be a game. Too bad if you are offended by my anger. You claim I’m nothing to you anyway so why should it matter. It certainly doesn’t matter to me that you don’t like me holding public servants and petty politicians accountable for their actions. So let us disagree on the appropriate course that should be pursued and debate our positions on the merits.

      2. chris

        From what I’ve read, I think the expectation that Crawford was continuing in the coach’s position was just as strong if not stronger than Peterson’s daughter’s expectation that she would make the team again. In Crawford’s case, she had already been ok’d by the AD and Principal. In both cases, whatever the technical differences between expectations and entitlement, they both perceived themselves as being wrongfully “cut” from the team.

    3. Rich Rifkin

      FREMONT: “Allen like Rob Peterson, who at least was a private citizen, are unprepared for a world where I can write some screed and immediately have it broadcast to anyone interested to read it and I can do it, thanks to David, anonymously.”

      I think you make many good points. And while what you say about Rob Peterson is technically true, I think it is a mistake to differentiate his actions and words from his wife’s in this case. That is, I think the Peterson family should be seen as a unit, all acting toward a common objective. When Rob Peterson speaks in public on issues regarding his family, he is speaking not just for himself, but for his wife, too.

      My belief–articulately spelled out many times by David Greenwald–is that the heart of the problem in V-gate has been a conflict of interest, where a person (Mrs. Peterson) in a position of power over district employees took up the case of a student (her daughter) against a district employee. Her best choices were to resign and then fight on her daughter’s behalf; or let her daughter fend for herself. Alas, up to the point she quit her elected position, she and her husband were effectively abusing the power she had as a Trustee.

      I don’t lack all sympathy for Mrs. Peterson. I do think she honestly believes that Ms. Crawford mistreated her daughter and abused her power as a coach. While at the same time I think most parents in Davis, believing their child had been wronged, would have fought for their child’s interests, I think in cases like this the child learns a better life lesson if his parents stay out of it and he fends for himself. But not being in their position, I don’t know that I would act differently than the Petersons have done in terms of fighting for their daughter. I, however, would hope that if I were a School District Trustee, I would have had the sense to step down from that position first.

  3. Mark West

    “perceived transgression”

    The only ‘perceived transgression’ in this entire process was the one Coach Crawford was accused of. The child was cut from the team based on her skills relative to the other players, but some chose to perceive the act as retribution.

    Nancy Peterson is a bully and abused the power of her position. That is not perception, but fact.

    Sheila Allen failed to act, as President of the Board and again later as a Board Member, to stop either the bullying or the abuse of power, and therefore she became complicit in both of those actions. If you know that abuse is happening and you do not act to stop it, then you share in the responsibility for it. Fact, not perception.

    1. hpierce

      Although I don’t disagree, the ‘power’ to stop bullying/abuse of power, is in my opinion, a required element for ‘responsibility’. In a bullying episode between a one-hundred fifty pounder, and a one hundred eighty pounder, I wouldn’t blame a ninety pounder for not stopping it.

      In your example, the board chair arguably has as much or more ‘power’, particularly if they get the support from other board members. Whether “bullying” or not, board members should have acted to stop apparent mis-behavior. There I definitely agree.

  4. hpierce

    David… you may not know the answer to this… what was the ‘motion on the floor’ when the vote was taken? It dawns on me that the Board was hearing an appeal of an administrative action, so it would seem the proper motion would have been, “shall the DJUSD Board approve the appeal (presented by the coach)?” It seems that the default (for example of a 2-2 tie) would be that barring an affirmative action by the board to approve the appeal, thereby overturning the administrative action not to renew/enter into a new VSA. If that was the motion, perhaps the vote should have been reported as 1-3. In the motion was to deny the appeal, then a 3-1 vote makes sense, but had there been a 2-2 tie, the motion fails, and the default still appears to be that the administrative action would stand.
    This is a process question, as there was a 3-1 (or, 1-3) vote, and the fact is the VSA for spring was not approved/extended. Does not appear that there was a termination/revocation.

        1. SouthofDavis

          Growth Issue wrote:

          > This doesn’t make me a liberal does it?

          Nom since (at least according to Me. Toad) David is a right wing anti-union conservative…

  5. hpierce

    Maybe the psychiatric establishment should determine if we have a new category for diagnosis… HMS/HPS… Helicopter Mm/Helicopter Parent Syndrome. Not sure how it would be ‘treated’, though.

  6. PhilColeman

    Let’s go back and look at the “you can re-apply for the coaching job in the Fall” ruling. The Board was just tossing Julie Crawford a bone. It had some attraction to a segment of the public, and possibly gave Julie a ray of hope a few months hence. She might give pause to other options at this time. Politically, this was a really good move by the Board. Problem is, the gesture is completely worthless. It had no authority or legitimacy.

    The Board’s appellate responsibility was to affirm or deny Administration’s decision to not forward Ms. Crawford’s VSA. This was the sanction given by the Administration for Crawford’s violation of a District rule.The Administration’s judgment was sustained by the Board, and Crawford’s appeal of the judgment failed.

    The Board had no authority on the scope of the appeal content to either encourage or deny Crawford from applying for the job in the future. Under the range of the appeal content the Board was giving Crawford something that she already had! Certainly, Administration didn’t punish Crawford further by saying don’t come back, did they?

    1. hpierce

      My ‘take-away’ was that the Board was letting Admin know they’d try to stay out of any subsequent Admin decisions regarding VSA’s for the Coach or other coaches. One way or the other. I hope I’m correct.

    2. Robin W

      I am not sure if it is correct to say the Board’s role on appeal was to review the administration’s decision not to forward Crawford’s VSA. Is that what was appealed? I thought what was appealed was the finding on Dr Peterson’s complaint, ie, the determination that Crawford retaliated against the student (which determination was apparently the reason Crawford’s VSA was not forwarded). This is somewhat significant, since it looks like three of the Board members may have chosen not to make a finding on retaliation at all and simply decided to uphold the administration’s action against Crawford.

  7. davisperson

    David, you wrote, “Yesterday there were some fairly prominent citizens, including an elected official, who posted on Facebook that they were pulling their endorsements of Sheila Allen.”

    I have been following with great interest the discussion about the role of the new media, and social media, in this controversy. Can you tell us how you got access to these prominent citizens’ facebook postings? Can anyone see them, or were you able to see them because you are “friends” with them on facebook?

  8. TrueBlueDevil

    Frankly, this “hidden report” process stinks and just makes me more disturbed. Did the coach know her rights as an Employee? I hope Mr. Greenwald or Mr. Coleman or others can debunk or confirm my logic.

    Maybe Coach Crawford didn’t have legal council. My understanding is that almost anything in one’s personnel file can be reviewed by the employee.

    Am I correct, or mistaken??

    Did Coach Crawford not make a request to see the “investigation” earlier out of ignorance? Or was she ram-rodded. I’m sure if she had a week or two to prepare, she could submit REBUTTAL information, signed declarations, and witnesses which would tell her side of the story.

    State of California
    Department of Industrial Relations

    “California law requires that employers allow employees and former employees access to their personnel files and records that relate to the employee’s performance or to any grievance concerning the employee. Labor Code Section 1198.5 Inspections must be allowed at reasonable times and intervals. …”

    “The right to inspect personnel files and records does not apply to records relating to the investigation of a possible criminal offense, letters of reference, or ratings, reports, or records that (a) were obtained prior to the employee’s employment, (b) were prepared by identifiable examination committee members, or (c) were obtained in connection with a promotional exam.”


    1. Don Shor

      That is one of the parts of this whole thing that absolutely floored me.

      Julie Crawford was not permitted to see the report by investigators prior to the appeal hearing. Board President Gina Daleiden has likened the process to a quasi-judicial process.

      “Quasi” doesn’t even apply. If this is district policy, it is a farce, a travesty, and needs to be rewritten immediately. Every aspect of the Board’s management of this has been incompetent, from the delays to the appeal to the outcome.

      1. Robin W

        As an employment lawyer, I agree (and I mostly represent employers, not employees). If the facts uncovered in the “investigative process” and the facts and conclusions contained in the “investigation report” played any role in the decision to pull Crawford’s VSA (ie, to reject her application to serve as coach this season), then she was entitled to see the report as of that time. If it did not play any role in the decision then why was the School Board, in its self-proclaimed “quasi-judicial” capacity, looking at the report in considering the appeal? The process here does not appear to be consistent with legal requirements.

        1. TrueBlueDevil

          Robin, I have a few questions I hope you might consider. I’ll try to not make them compound!

          1. When shown such a report, should she be allowed to rebut it with facts, declarations, witness statements, etc.?, including a written rebuttal?

          2. If the BOE failed to follow basic legal requirements, could she ask for a mulligan? Could the coach appeal this to any State Board?

          3. Have DJUSD possibly violated any employment laws with such actions?

          Thank you.

    2. Elizabeth Bowler

      A couple of questions:

      Who determined that she could not review the investigator’s report prior to her appeal hearing?

      Did Crawford have either union or legal representation at the hearing?

      It certainly seems like her right to a fair hearing was compromised by her inability to read what she was alleged to have done prior to the hearing. I would hope that either she or her representative brought that up at the hearing.

  9. observer

    Truth is ,all three board members better stay out of election race of any kind. Gina Daleiden is the only one who proved, that she can do the right thing . Gina has my respect and my vote. The rest of you , board members ,pack your bags .

  10. TrueBlueDevil

    I’m not Mr. Conspiracy, but this just smells.

    – They make a ruling, but wait 2 months (?) to tell her (pulling her VSA) – meaning it would be impossible to salvage the season
    – They don’t show her the “Investigation” in advance, though it should be part of her personnel file (there is no criminal investigation in progress, which would bar release)
    – They only show it to her at the time of the hearing, 72 pages
    – Sheila Allen reportedly already has some (all?) of her remarks pre-written (decision already made before the hearing?)
    – This was apparently the first time that Tim Taylor heard even a portion of “the other side”

    I’d like to know if Coach was denied a request to see her personnel file, did HR Director Matt Best inform her of her employee rights, and was the union (though not directly involved) helpful at all?

    Maybe the teachers and students need to consider Civil Disobedience – forfeit a volleyball game, or have a school walk out – when will this end? Five coaches, administrative leaders, and even the darn cheerleading coach quit!!

    1. hpierce

      Although I am supportive of the Coach, and not so in regards to the former Board Member, this post reminds me of the type of knee-jerk reaction that the Board member and her spouse exhibited. Don’t need no more accellerant applied to still hot embers. Definitely will not benefit students to advocate that they sacrifice their experiences because of the adults.

      Where will it end? It won’t as long as folks are adding heat to the fuel. Suspect it will be ALL heat, with little or no light.

      The delays noted are unconsionable, and perhaps in violation of law/adopted policies. Those had the effect, in my opinion, of hurting the student-athletes much more than Coach.

      Is Coach not a mature adult who can fight her own fights, without further pulling the students into this quagmire? As for co-workers/admin staff, fine. Hopefully they are adults, too, and will make their own choices, and take their own responsibility for the consequences of those (if any). Can we keep the students out of this donnybrook?

    2. hpierce

      btw, IN MOST CASES, the document would NOT BE IN the personnel jacket, until AFTER the process had run its course. As it is, IF the report is placed in the personnel jacket, the employee has the absolute right to demand that their refutation/denial/explanation/response be attached to the report, in the personnel jacket. They generally have the right to request that it be purged, after a period of time, if there are no further problems. Knew someone at the City who had false allegations placed in their folder, responded, and a few years later requested that the documents be purged, and they were. He verified the ‘cleaning’. Coach should be able to do the same, at some point, as long as there are no similar “issues”.

      1. Robin W

        Regardless where the employer places the document, if it was the basis for an adverse employment action and is not subject to one if the exceptions noted in the post above, the employee is entitled to see it.

        1. hpierce

          Curious… is the failure to get a promotion, or failure to get a contract beyond your normal contractural duties an ‘adverse employment action’? Didn’t think so, but might be wrong.

          1. Robin W

            Yes, failure to hire, promote or extended an additional contract is am adverse employment action for these purposes.

  11. Frankly

    I find it absurd that we cannot easily fire a teacher with a history of student and parent complaints against him/her, but here we can materially fire a coach because she did cut a student from the team.

    I also find it aggravating that students get “cut” every day, and “bullied” every day, by teachers in other subjects, but nary a peep is heard about it (just another kid that didn’t do his homework, and another parent that didn’t do well with his kid)… but here we have 30 VG articles and hundred of posts about a cut from a volleyball team. Correct me if I am wrong, but the student cut from team was not likely to go on and make a living in the volleyball industry… correct?

    Related to the schools… our outrage is misdirected. Our priorities are really screwed up.

    1. hpierce

      Good news, Frankly… sometimes the District gets it right… my daughter had a teacher who kept ‘dinging’ her for not doing homework… which I knew she had done, and turned in [perhaps ‘teach’s dog ate the paper. My daughter was not alone in this. It devastated her. The teacher ‘disappeared’ before the next semester. It may well have been a number of parent complaints that led to the silent dismissal/opportunity to resign. This was about 16 years ago.

      1. Frankly

        That is a good story hpierce. However, too often I heard the comment from other parents “don’t let your child get “that” teacher, he/she is terrible.” And it seemed more times than not my child got “that” teacher. But my children were both generally adamant about us not causing a scene with the school. So we stuck it out. In the end I know it was a mistake because both of my kids – really smart kids – learned to hate school.

        And I learned to dislike a system that allows bad teachers to stay and cause kids to hate school.

        But we still have a problem with balance given the attention given to the performance of this volleyball coach and the lack of attention given to the performance of the more important academic coaches in the classrooms.

        1. hpierce

          My story is true. You are not entitled to take away one iota of it. Don’t dare dismiss it as a “good story”. Paybacks are double.

          If you have an alternate view, of YOUR experiences, fine. I will respect that much more than you respected me.

          And your or your children’s lack of standing up for yourselves, should not be used to negate my actions or experiences. Grow some.

        2. TrueBlueDevil

          Why did they”hate” school. Hate is a strong word.

          Decades ago when I was in school, about 1/3 rocked, 1/3 were OK, and 1/3 were weak or boring, or both. Have the ratios changed? I wasn’t going to let 2 weak teachers spoil my week or year, how unproductive that would that be.

  12. TrueBlueDevil

    Frankly, this may show us what poor and overpaid managers and ‘leaders’ we have.

    If the reply from the lawyer (Robin W) above is correct – that sharing the investigative report with the employee should have been done right away – then a number of people may have shown their basic incompetence.

    – HR Manager
    – Superintendent
    – DJUSD Board
    – Board President
    – Principal?
    – In-house legal council
    – Well-paid outside legal council

    If true, this may have indeed been a Kangaroo Court. Don’t they know that in America, you are innocent until proven guilty? We have certain basic laws and tenets so that we are treated fairly? … Kafkaesque, yes… though I can’t recall reading his works, I’ll have to, now … though I did have a Pilsner in a bar frequented by Kafka in Prague.

    1. Robin W

      Sorry if I created any confusion. I said the employee was entitled to see the document if it contained the results of a fact investigation or a fact determination that was the basis for an adverse employment action. I did not say the district had an obligation to go out of its way to hand her the document. The employee needed to ask to see the document (or to see her file, or to see all documents that were considered in taking the adverse action). I do not know if Crawford made that request.

      1. Frankly

        Robin W. That seems to be splitting hairs a bit. I have had to deal with a few harassment claims and wrongful termination claims during my management career, and my attorney seems to always advise me to be open and disclose the results of any formal investigation. In fact, to mitigate the future claim that this information was withheld, I have been advised to forward the reports via certified mail and record the proof of receipt.

        Now, I suppose if the details of the report were incriminating I might have been advised to wait until I had a formal request… hoping it never came.

        But the advise of counsel here should be to protect the client (employer) and I am surprised that there was not extra effort to ensure the process would be seen as being completely transparent and fair.

        Maybe in the union-labor world these things are done differently.

        1. hpierce

          Your last sentence was gratuitous, at best. It was not your “experience”, but a “snide remark”. As a friendly suggestion to you, you undercut your relevant points with those type of comments. IMO, you undercut the first 3 points you made, by the last. Not my problem, as I STRONGLY dislike unions [and have never belonged to an ‘organized union’], but thought you might want to know that you can be your own worst enemy.

          1. Michelle Millet

            As a friendly suggestion to you, you undercut your relevant points with those type of comments. IMO, you undercut the first 3 points you made, by the last….. you might want to know that you can be your own worst enemy.

            I heard he does this on purpose, I think he is following the lead of some not to be named cable news station.

          2. hpierce


            By ascribing his views, to some source you don’t know, you are falling into his “web”… been there, done that, have many tee-shirts. Not criticizing you, but myself for falling into the same traps. Not just from him. My bad. Suggest you avoid those traps.

      2. TrueBlueDevil

        Yes, she needed to ask for it.

        I guess this is where we get into a gray area … shouldn’t someone have told her, “You just have to ask to see the report” or “As an employee, you have a right to see your personnel file”. There had to have been numerous conversations as this whole drama unfolded, and when the investigation came to light … to simply leave her in the dark with no time to prepare, and no time to prepare a written rebuttal, gather documents, etc., just seems underhanded.

        To reach an improper decision based on half the facts and a possibly slanted investigation doesn’t sit right internally, and very well could anger the public. It does no one any good to have a half-baked conclusion. If an employee of the city screws up, fine. But don’t take an action based on surprise, (a young person’s) legal naivete, and skullduggery.

        1. chris

          I guess I’m one of those members of the public unhappy with the process. I can’t believe Crawford didn’t get to see the document before the hearing. Until today, I assumed she had counsel and had read the document and prepared a response to it, but kept it quiet per counsel advice.

          Even if she didn’t formally request it, I don’t know why the Board couldn’t hint to her she could make the request. Even judges help pro bono litigants with suggestions like that. The bottom line from my perspective is not whether Crawford got her contract or not, but whether the process had been fair all along. I think this is why I feel so angry with the board, district and Peterson.

          First with Peterson for her actions last time around pulling the VSA, not recusing herself, making her public comments, having her husband leak documents, etc.

          Second to the Board for not stopping Peterson when she did those things.

          Third, the District (Roberson?) in hiring its own attorneys to investigate a complaint by a Board member who presumably has a say in who to hire as legal counsel. I’m actually not so shocked with the $22k as legal fees are always high, or that they hired counsel to investigate. It’s their choice in using the same firm in this particular case.

          Fourth, the District for not telling Crawford or the students right away about their decision to not renew the contract.

          And now, Fifth, the Board for expecting Crawford sit and read and somehow formulate a response to the 72-page report at the hearing. What would they have lost if they had hinted to her to request the report ahead of time?

          It all leaves a bad taste.

      3. Robin W

        I did some further research today because my background is primarily in the private sector. In the private sector the employer had no duty to inform the employee of the existence of documents with disparaging information that in the personnel file or that contributed to an adverse employment action. However, it appears that a related duty may exist when it comes to school district employees. California Education Code section 44031(b) states that, in addition to the right to inspect personnel records that all employees in California have, the following applies to a school district employee: “Information of a derogatory nature shall not be entered into an employee’s personnel records unless and until the employee is given notice and an opportunity to review and comment on that information.” So I guess the question then is whether a report has essentially been entered into an employee’s personnel records if it has been considered and used as the basis for an adverse employment action against that employee.

        1. Tia Will

          “Second to the Board for not stopping Peterson when she did those things.”

          I have a question on this point. I do not know what specific actions other Board members are allowed to take tot “stop” the inappropriate actions of another board member. Public castigation would seem to me to be an inappropriate means of addressing another board member who seems to be going astray. This would leave either closed session, or private communication as the only means to proceed. It would seem hat the public would not know if either of these means of “stopping”
          Ms. Peterson had been attempted and if so, by whom and at what point in time.

          It seems that some commenters anger is spilling over onto those who were only peripherally involved and whose actions or lack thereof we do not have the information needed to judge.

          1. Mr.Toad

            Sheila Allen could have pounded the gavel and told her to stop or if she wasn’t quick enough to realize what was happening Sheila as President of the Board at that time or any other member could have told her immediately after the fact that her remarks were inappropriate. None of them did. Not doing this simply empowered the Peterson’s further.

          2. anonymous

            Are you just as comfortable blaming Don, Ruth, Stephen, and Lamar for Sue Greenwald’s bad behavior?

          3. Mr.Toad

            Why Lamar? The night Ruth went to the hospital They voted to silence Sue but they needed 4 votes and Lamar voted to let Sue continue. It saddens me to say this and I have never brought it up because I always liked Lamar. But you asked so I’m laying stout for you.

          4. Michelle Millet

            Could it be argued that Lamar believed they were unjustly attempting to silence her?

          5. Mr.Toad

            I think Lamar wanted to have the debate and so did Sue but they were in the minority. I think if Lamar could see five minutes into the future he might have voted differently and yes hindsight is 20/20. That is one of the reasons I never brought it up before but anonymous asked me possibly to give cover to the current school board for not taking a firmer hand with Nancy Peterson. There were other times. Ruth was famous for gaveling down Sue. People were critical of Ruth for it but now we can see why its sometimes important for the person who runs the meeting say set limits on unacceptable behavior by board members.

          6. Michelle Millet

            I was just curious. I wasn’t really following city politics during that time, but did see that clip. Lamar didn’t say much I was impressed with him none the less.

    2. hpierce

      Actually, neither the Board President nor ANY Board member should have had anything to do with this until the 11.95 th hour. I have no disagreement with the other positions you listed, but I also do not know district policies or procedures.

  13. eagle eye

    Nancy Peterson said, at one point, that she had “accepted” the position on the school board. I wonder if that alluded to Tim Taylor, Sheila Allen, Lovenberg, or, one of their political associates perhaps urging her to run for this office. If that’s the case, it would be difficult for them to abandon or criticize Peterson when she got into hot water.
    Politicians, along with some other professions, tend to do more talking than thinking. That seems to apply to this mess.

    1. Tia Will

      eagle eye

      “If that’s the case, it would be difficult for them to abandon or criticize Peterson when she got into hot water.”

      I do not agree with your conclusion here. One of the first points that was made to me when I “accepted” an administrative position was that I would make mistakes. And I have. I have made mistakes in recruiting and hiring individuals who either were did not turn out to be good fits for their position. In this case, the sooner the error is recognized the better so that remedial counseling, coaching and training can be pursued as early in their new role as possible. This of course should be done in a proportional manner and in private, not in a public venue.

      I have made other types of errors as well. And when this has been the case, my department chief has pointed them out to me with the anticipation that my performance would improve. This is the responsibility of an administrator in the private realm. I would be interested in knowing, perhaps from someone who has been in public office, or worked closely with those in the capacity just what their responsibilities and limitations are in this situation.

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