Nancy Peterson Stuns Community and Colleagues with Her Resignation (with Video)

Nancy Peterson addresses her colleagues from public comment in announcing her resignation on Thursday.
Nancy Peterson addresses her colleagues from public comment in announcing her resignation on Thursday.

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

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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45 Comments

  1. Mr.Toad

    “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.”

    One thing they need to look at is how they authorize legal counsel to spend district money. The 99 hours billed suggests that somebody authorized up to 100 hours of legal time on the investigation and from the 72 pages generated it seems much of the time was spent writing until the clock ran out. With lawyers billing in six minute increments better controls could easily been put into place. In fact, the use of all the time allotted raises the question of if the district needs new counsel that would be more judicious in its willingness spend money that otherwise might be spent on educating children.

  2. Mr.Toad

    With lawyers billing in six minute increments better controls could have easily been put into place. In fact, the use of all the time allotted raises the question of if the district needs new counsel that would be more judicious in its willingness to spend money that otherwise might be spent on educating children.

      1. Tia Will

        I do not see why any one would expect contrition. Ms. Peterson clearly does not see the issue the same way as many community members ( most of whom have far less information about the entirety of the situation).

        A number of commenters were calling for her resignation on very limited information, speculation, and their personal bias. I see this as essentially hounding a public figure out of office without allowing the full process to play out. I stand with David on this when he said repeatedly that he felt that patience was warranted in allowing this to play out through due process..

        At least one claim by Ms. Peterson s completely true. There are parents who withhold their complaints about coaches due to fear of retaliation against their child. I know this to be true because I was one. Some years ago my son was a varsity goalie with an abusive coach. I offered him the choices of changing sport, resuming club participation or maintaining his varsity position. After I had had one conversation with the coach in an effort to directly confront his abusive coaching tactics ( yelling obscenities at the boys and demeaning them in front of their peers) my son pleaded with me to back off and not make a formal complaint because he feared ( rightfully so in my opinion ) retaliation. Unfortunately, it was not until the next year when other parents braver than I stepped up with an overwhelming number of complaints that he was removed.

        Almost every story has two sides. Ms. Peterson was limited in her ability to convey her version of the facts while others were able to convey their version without legal and political ramifications.

        I now believe that the vilification contingent in our town can count themselves amongst the perpetrators of this travesty that has cast aspersions upon a coach, the school board, the school administration, and has cost one of our community her publicly elected position and an unknown amount of turmoil and angst to an unknown number of students.

        Does anyone not believe that early mediation as a first step would have the potential to lead to a better outcome ?

        1. Mr. Toad

          But if Crawford was abusive towards the students you would expect other parents, teachers and students would have come forward in support of Nancy Peterson’s actions concurring in her position. Especially since she was on the board it was not dangerous to speak out.Instead the exact opposite happened with members of all three groups rallying to Crawford’s defense.

          i once had to deal with

          1. Mr. Toad

            I once had to deal with an abusive coach. It didn’t take too long before enough people came forward and he lost his position. As Tia states when a group of parents complained administration took action. This is as you would expect but in this case we don’t seem to have a group of disgruntled students and parents what we seem to have is one unhappy family.

            Little has been said about the teacher who spoke out at public comment last night about how the teachers are feeling about what has transpired. I think the worst thing (besides the loss of the DHS principal last year) of all is the way Nancy Peterson tried to make this an us versus them issue between the teachers and the parents. Parents and teachers need to work together. They are two of the most important groups helping the children grow and develop. Nancy Peterson’s resignation remarks attempted to make people think that parents are powerless in dealing with teachers. Nothing is farther from the truth. Teachers are quite careful to consider the input of parents but once in a while we draw the line and say sorry its not good enough. It is part of the job. Its usually then that it hits the fan as parents retaliate against a teacher who holds the line. Believe me nobody ever complained when a student earned an A. My guess is that teachers holding the line happens less when parents work with teachers than when they don’t because when they work together the outcomes for the kids improve.

            Nancy Peterson’s attempt to rally parents to her cause by making her complaint emblematic of the tension between teachers and parents was counterproductive. It only makes things worse for everybody and it strikes at the heart of why it is good that she exited the public stage. The teachers are not the enemy.

      2. Matt Williams

        Was there anything conciliatory in it? I certainly didn’t see anything conciliatory. If anything, what I saw was a gauntlet thrown down.

        Why anyone is the least bit surprised by this resignation is a mystery to me. During her campaign, Nancy impressed me as an intelligent, thoughtful person who was likely to assess situations before acting. The events of the recent past clearly have shown that the role of parent and the role of Board member were unable to occupy the same space at the same time. Nancy’s resignation appears to me that she has placed her role as a parent above here role as a Board member. By resigning, she is able to follow her parental instincts without looking over her shoulder.

        1. TrueBlueDevil

          Will she really, ultimately, follow her parental instincts?

          Or will she follow her ego?

          I have followed high-school sports for decades, and I have never seen anything like this. But I’m guessing it won’t be the last with this new generation which was raised by parents who have lost the wisdom which existed before the 60s, and which also knew the effects of the Great Depression.

          1. Matt Williams

            TBD, I’m not sure I understand your initial pair of questions. Nor do I understand how those two questions relate to your final paragraph. Care to elaborate?

          2. TrueBlueDevil

            Matt, I will do my best.

            A parent should have maturity and wisdom to see 2 years down the road, to see the many possible consequences of this battle, and ask if it is worth it. Even if the child thinks “Yes”, many parents might say that those 200 or 400 hours dealing with drama, negative emotions, and the unintended consequences (slashed tire) are very counter productive. Is the Junior Peterson really invested this much in taking a coach down?

            I would think the parental instincts would be to protect the child, but also to allow them to learn from their mistakes or garden-variety life lessons – i.e., getting cut from a sports team. Even from the few supporters of Nancy Peterson, I have seen no one suggest that this drama has been good for her children!

            Hence my hint that this is really about NP ego, or her and her hubby’s misplaced ego. Tangentially, someone else blogged, “Who wouldn’t help their child in this situation?” Three decades ago, the majority of parents let kids fend for themselves with such garden-variety issues. When a teenager got cut from the team, few criticized the coach, AD, or principal. In fact, many would ask the coach, “What can I do to improve?” If you told me 30 years ago that a school board would spend $100,000 (probably the minimal cost for this whole saga) to produce a one-sided investigation into why a two-time coach of the year cut the 11th or 12th player on a team, in favor of two outstanding freshmen players, I would not believe you. Or I would wonder if there were serious felony criminal acts involved… which have never been alleged here.

            Kids haven’t changed. We threw threw the baby out with the bathwater in the 60s and 70s, and we are now reaping the rewards. We are a rich nation with a lot of spoiled kids who have little concept of hard work or sacrifice. DHS is fortunate in that there are a lot of great, hard working kids. But there is still a sense of entitlement with many.

          3. Matt Williams

            We threw threw the baby out with the bathwater in the 60s and 70s, and we are now reaping the rewards.

            You have said this before. What baby? What bathwater? Your reference eludes me.

            When I hear thoughts like yours expressed I am reminded of the Aristophanes quote from “The Clouds”

            “Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers.” (423 B.C.)

          4. TrueBlueDevil

            Were you raised in this country? It is a common phrase that you may want to Google.

            This idiomic phrase only goes back to the 1500s: das Kind mit dem Bade ausschütten.

          5. Matt Williams

            I know what the phrase is. I’m asking you to explain your application of the phrase. What reality does your idiomatic “baby” represent? Similarly, what real process do you equate to your idiomatic bath water disposal process?

            Idioms are only tissue paper cliches if they have no connection to a human reality.

            Throw out the baby with the bath water is an idiomatic expression and a concept[1] used to suggest an avoidable error in which something good is eliminated when trying to get rid of something bad,[2] or in other words, rejecting the essential along with the inessential.[3]

            To put my request into your Wiki terms,

            — What do you see as the “avoidable error”?

            — What “good” do you believe was eliminated?

            — What “bad” were we ridding ourselves of?

            Or if you prefer Wiki’s “in other words”

            — What “essential” and “inessential” were we rejecting in the 60s and 70s?

  3. fremontia

    I actually feel sorry for her. The woman who touted her Ph.D as a badge of competence admitting her failure. Now if the coach can get her gig back we can move forward with finding a replacement, healing the community and examining the wreckage to determine what else needs fixing.

    1. Matt Williams

      I suspect the road to “the coach getting her gig back” is going to be complex, painful and expensive. The only way that that won’t be the case is if one (or more than one) of the parties decides to cut their losses.

    1. TrueBlueDevil

      keithvb = Yes.

      The PC press can’t even spell out what was blatantly obvious once we dig an inch deep. “We don’t know why her daughter was cut?”

      1. She was a lower-ranked reserve player who didn’t improve much.
      2. The Blue Devils had two outstanding Freshmen try out and make the team.
      3. A 4-person committee made the decision
      4. Peterson repeatedly “jumped the shark” in logging complaints, not following protocol on reportedly trivial concerns.

  4. iPad Guy

    A big day in Davis media, for sure. Three genuine pieces of news:

    1. “Nancy Peterson Stuns Community and Colleagues with Her Resignation…There was some confusion as to whether Nancy Peterson official resigned her position.” (The Vanguard)

    The biggest story for sure. No sources needed, given the many eyewitnesses. Why is there any confusion about whether she officially resigned? Does she need to writer a letter or fill out a form before it becomes official? In any case, there’s no turning back after such an announcement.

    2. “(Daleiden stated) ‘the board strongly and unanimously urges the Peterson-Crawford parties to enter into mediation to settle this conflict’…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.” (The Vanguard)

    Sources, please, David. Since you were citing your post-meeting conversation with Board President Gina Daleiden, are we to assume you obtained these two items from her? How did Julie Crawford express her “willingness to engage,” and did it include the conditions set by Ms. Daleiden (that the participants pay the bills)?

    Did you confirm these claims with the two parties? And, why would there be any expectation that Nancy Peterson would respond to the district’s plea anyway when “this conflict” to be settled is the Rob Peterson complaint and the Julie Crawford appeal?

    3. “During the prior two years, Nancy Peterson had lodged several oral complaints against the coach, raising concerns about inadequate supervision of players and mishandling of funds, among other issues.” (The Enterprise)

    Sources, please, Jeff Hudson. Where did this come from, and why did it show up for the first time during the current dispute in today’s report?

    1. Mr.Toad

      I posted this last night and I’m reposting it today to be clear that from my experience I understand that a person needs to personally profit for an accusation of financial malfeasance to stick.

      I’ve seen accusations of mishandling of funds before in another district where administration retaliated against teachers after a strike. All the accusations were overturned by the courts because it couldn’t be shown that the teachers profited personally. One accusation was against a music teacher who didn’t have good records on a soda machine and another against a wrestling coach who held the cash from a crab feed over the weekend. Both teachers left the district where I worked at the time and got settlements through the courts.

      I can’t imagine that there is enough money involved in a volleyball program that a coach would profit personally. If Julie Crawford is anything like most of the teachers I have known she has probably spent more money out of her own pocket on supplies or on food for kids that were broke and hungry. Perhaps she has even sprung for a pair of shoes or something the school didn’t cover for her players at one time or another. Let us stop persecuting this fine young coach and let her go on with her career. Remember both teaching and coaching at the high school level are not jobs that people seek to get rich. They are jobs of passion, service and sometimes sacrifice.

    2. David Greenwald

      “Sources, please, David.”

      Gina Daleiden told me the other day that one of them had accepted the offer. Yesterday a number of community members who are in the position to know posted on the Vanguard and elsewhere that it was Julie who had accepted. I can’t answer your other questions.

      1. iPad Guy

        Thank you. For such a significant story element, attribution provides credibility and is critical for readers in weighing significance of the information.

        That you have Board President Gina Daleiden as a source really means something. On the other hand, noting that “Just Do What’s Right” post yesterday was made by someone “in the position to know” doesn’t carry much weight.

        Just curious, why didn’t you report the other day that Ms. Daleiden had received one taker on her appeal? Maybe it would have encouraged the other party to jump on the bandwagon you’re trying to get moving.

        1. David Greenwald

          Just to be clear, Gina Daleiden never told me which party had agreed to mediate. However, there were enough credible social media sources about which one had agreed that I ran with it.

          Moreover I can report that there will be no mediation and the appeal will go forward next Thursday.

          Answer to your question: I don’t know. I don’t think it would have made any difference to be honest.

          1. iPad Guy

            You were clear.

            I agree that a Vanguard story that “one of the sides has told the board president it’s ready to buy some mediation” probably wouldn’t have ended up with mediation even attempted. I suspect that neither side would carry through if it came close (for the reasons hashed out thoroughly already). But, from a public relations standpoint, being tagged as agreeable to mediation is great. And, being seen as the one refusing to cooperate is not.

    3. TrueBlueDevil

      iPad Guy: you missed another new nugget from Mrs. Peterson.

      4. DHS “Staff” Commits “wrongs” to “countless families”

      “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.”

  5. Davis Progressive

    i’m disappointed.

    i guess i thought nancy was a fighter not a quitter. another trade i apparently missed when i voted for her in 2012.

    i’m disappointed that we never got to see contrition.

    i’m disappointed that till the end she failed as a parent to protect her daughter first by putting her in an untenable position and then even in making the choice, by inserting her daughter back into the fray.

    i don’t get it.

    1. Matt Williams

      DP, listening to her words on the video, I don’t believe she was quitting. I believe she was untying the hands that she had tied behind her back.

      1. Davis Progressive

        you may well be right. what nancy will soon discover is that while she unties her hands to some respect, she also loses all of the power asymmetry and fear. no longer can she intimidate administrators because she no longer hold’s their purse strings.

    1. David Greenwald

      Pretty much. The board has to appoint to fill Peterson’s spot and if Sheila Allen wins, they’ll have to appoint to fill that spot too because of Ed Code regulations.

      1. wdf1

        Jeff Hudson, Davis Enterprise, March 7, 2014, Peterson resigns from Davis school board

        Peterson’s resignation raises questions about how her seat on the board will be filled. She was elected in November 2012 and her term would extend to November 2016.

        According to board policy, the remaining trustees can either order an election or make a provisional appointment. Daleiden said the board hasn’t yet discussed which route it will take.

        But a vacuum in leadership may be opening up on the board. Daleiden and trustees Tim Taylor and Sheila Allen each has served nearly nine years. Allen is running for the Davis City Council on June 3, and Taylor and Daleiden have not yet announced whether they intend to seek re-election.

  6. TrueBlueDevil

    New development in The Enterprise:

    “In addition, two district administrators have been dismissed from their current positions and reassigned to classroom duty, board president Gina Daleiden announced following a closed-session meeting Thursday. It was not immediately clear whether either is involved in the dispute between Peterson and coach Julie Crawford. Daleiden and Matt Best, assistant superintendent for human resources, declined further comment.”

    1. Robin W

      David- Did the Board indicate who those two administrators are? That should be public information. Do we know whether these administrators had any role in the district dealing with Dr Peterson’s complaint, hiring/working with the law firm that wrote the report, the initial approval of the VSA at the DHS level, or the decision not to forward the VSA to the Board for approval?

      1. David Greenwald

        No they did not indicate who the administrators were. Personnel actions are confidential. We will eventually be able to figure it out however.

  7. wdf1

    In my eyes, Nancy Peterson did exemplary work in public service in the schools through many years. She also brought many thoughtful and engaged comments to board discussion.

    I am sad to have watched this issue get so far out of hand.

    1. iPad Guy

      I also concur. There must have been a dozen missed opportunities over several months for the various parties to come to a less dramatic rest stop than the resignation of a school board trustee.

      However, once Dr. Peterson decided to go the Enterprise and once The Vanguard decided to lead a major campaign demanding Nancy Peterson’s head through censure, resignation and/or recall, it probably was just a matter of time before Ms. Peterson would try to stop the pain by resigning.

      wdf1, I just read this week that Nancy Peterson was an important player in the Blue & White Foundation’s great work, in addition to her coaching duties (which seemed to draw only negative reviews the last two weeks).

      While I’ve never met any of the family and am so detached from DHS issues that I don’t remember who got my school board vote, I’m most sad about the impact this long battle must have had on the daughter and son.

      There recently was a great NYT article exploring the proposition that we are defined for the rest of our lives by what we experience in our high school years. At first, it seemed seriously overdrawn. But, before reading very long, I was convinced. I’d hope that these two kids have a lot of good things going on in their DHS lives.

    2. TrueBlueDevil

      But we’re not discussing the Smith’s, Johnson’s, or Chan’s.

      There has been one family they has been driving a train for over a year.

      How bout if Mrs. Peterson followed set protocol (instead of jumping the shark), 50 percent of these items would never have escalated. How about if she didn’t try to micro manage the vb program, 3/4 of these issues would have never been issues? How bout she let her daughter handle more issues on her own, allowing her to mature and gain greater independence? How about when the Peterson’s would finally have a talk with the AD or Principal, she would respect their opinion?

      Again, this is all given with the caveat that there isn’t some huge smoking gun in the “investigative” report.

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