It was a move that caught community members and her colleagues off guard. During public comment on Thursday night, suddenly Board President Gina Daleiden was reading the name of Nancy Peterson, and after brief consultation with Vice President Tim Taylor she motioned Ms. Peterson to the public comment podium where Ms. Peterson read from a prepared statement.
“I believe the best way to serve all students is to defuse speculation and end further distractions so that the board may carefully deliberate the findings of the district’s report,” Nancy Peterson read to her colleagues who were not expecting this move. “Therefore, I resign my position as a trustee for the Davis Joint Unified School District, effective immediately.”
“It is no secret that the victim at the center of the complaint is my daughter, a student in this district,” Ms. Peterson continued “Over the years, countless families have expressed fear about the perils of challenging staff when wrongdoing is perceived. Most do not speak up and I can understand their choices to remain silent.”
“This is a precedent-setting moment for our district. The result will set the tone for students and family engagement now and into the future,” she read. “Moving forward, may we become more sensitive to and forever mindful of those who have not yet discovered the strength of their voices. My sincere hope is that one day, this district can create and sustain a culture of advocacy and responsibility absent of fear.”
Board President Gina Daleiden told the Vanguard that none of the four members of the school board nor Superintendent Winfred Roberson knew that this was coming.
At the end of the meeting, Ms. Daleiden stated, “I think I speak for my colleagues when I say the last few weeks have been challenging for all of us who care about our schools, our community and our kids.”
“There are still serious questions that we have to answer. We will be holding the appeal March 13 at 6 pm,” she said, referring to a closed session meeting in which the school board will hear Julie Crawford’s appeal of the administrative decision to not renew her VSA following a complaint filed by Robert Peterson that Ms. Crawford retaliated against the daughter who was on the volleyball team.
Two weeks ago the Vanguard learned that the school district paid at that time $22,000, in part, to attorney Alexander Sperry to investigate allegations by the Petersons that Julie Crawford cut their daughter from the volleyball team in retaliation for statements made by Nancy Peterson last summer.
As the Vanguard has reported, the immediate conflict seemed to have been escalated last July when Nancy Peterson was the lone dissenting vote in a 3-1 vote to reinstate Julie Crawford as coach. She escalated it not only in this dissenting vote, but in her comment, “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.”
Despite this comment, she and her husband would send their daughter, a senior, back to the team where Ms. Crawford, for reasons still unknown to the public, would cut her.
Mr. Peterson would file a complaint, as he stated last week: “My issue was a disagreement between this coach and her friend the previous coach and my wife at whatever level became simple retaliation.”
In a move that angered the public, the district would hire an independent investigation, with Alexander Sperry the lead investigator into a 99.3 hour investigation that cost the district $22,000 and produced a 72-page report.
The Enterprise reported it “has obtained a letter from Best summarizing attorney Alex Sperry’s investigation and which describes the violation of board policy that may have cost Crawford her coaching job.”
The paper added, “The investigation was triggered by a Sept. 3 complaint filed by longtime Blue Devil volunteer sports doctor Rob Peterson, Nancy’s husband and Ms. Peterson’s father, after Ms. Peterson was cut from the volleyball team.”
Further, the investigator concluded that “more likely than not, Coach Crawford’s decision to cut (Ms.) Peterson from the varsity volleyball team was influenced, at least in part, by Coach Crawford’s feelings about Nancy Peterson.”
The district administrative staff handled the process of the complaint and the investigation. The board did not approve the investigation nor the extent and amount. The board is briefed on a particular complaint when it comes to appeal. The school board would then meet in closed session to decide whether to hear the appeal. The vote was 4-0 with Nancy Peterson recusing herself.
Last week, Board President Daleiden stated, “However, the board strongly and unanimously urges the Peterson-Crawford parties to enter into mediation to settle this conflict.”
“We want to state in the clearest terms that we want our district removed as the battlefield,” she said. “DJUSD needs our resources, our focus, and our energy moving forward in educating our students.”
“The board encourages both of the parties to seek professional mediation on this matter so that there can be some healing in this painful process and so that the district can get back to the business of serving the kids,” she concluded.
The Vanguard has learned that Julie Crawford was immediately willing to engage in a mediation process. Nancy Peterson never responded to the district’s request.
Her resignation does not change the status of the appeal process, which still needs to go forward to determine whether the school district will reinstate Coach Crawford.
While the appeal is the instant-issue, there are other issues that the board must address as well, even in the absence of Ms. Peterson.
On Thursday, Ms. Daleiden stated, “I know this board intends to [consider] questions about policy and the effectiveness of procedures so that we can move this district forward.”
She added, “After we rule on the appeal on March 13, we will be released from the strict impartiality and will be able to comment on the entire administrative procedure of the complaint and the investigation and look at how we can move our district forward (with) effective and transparent procedures in place.”
“We will have more to say after (March) 13,” she added.
There was some confusion as to whether Nancy Peterson officially resigned her position. When the board originally heard the comment, they did not immediately respond.
At the end of the meeting, Ms. Daleiden stated, “(Nancy Peterson) resigned her position of trustee effective immediately. The District thanks Nancy for her service and dedication to our district.”
Ms. Daleiden added, “I’m sure that tonight’s decision was difficult for Nancy and a decision she made for her family. I hope our community can move forward and heal in cooperation of doing what’s best for our kids.”
Gina Daleiden called the resignation “a surprise.” “We didn’t expect the announcement. The board didn’t have any forewarning of the announcement.”
“It was a surprising thing to hear at the beginning of the meeting at public comment,” and she said as President she was just trying to hold the meeting together and make sure that accurate information got out to the public.
All four board members and Superintendent Roberson were caught off guard.
Video of resignation:
—David M. Greenwald reporting