Sunday Commentary II: District Needs to Restore Trust

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

Throughout this process, I have gotten a pretty clear impression that the district does not really have a good sense of what it is doing.  The school board on Thursday sought to agendize a proposal to strengthen the conflict of interest policy, but that policy is not nearly strong enough and it really does not get to the heart of the problem.

In this piece, I am going to lay out several places where the district needs to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it.

First, I need to let the readers know that information that I received on Thursday was either inaccurate or has changed.

I noted in yesterday’s column that Julie Crawford and her attorney finally got to see the report during the hearing.  That apparently was not the case.  It may have been summarized to her, but, according to my information, neither Julie Crawford nor her attorney have seen the report.

The district needs to change that policy – no one can offer up a defense without access to the accusations against them.  I understand the need to control access to a sensitive personnel document, but there have to be due process protections here.

Second, on Thursday night it seemed to open the door for Ms. Crawford to be able to volunteer and be an assistant coach on the boys’ volleyball team.  I was told that this is not happening either.

That leads me to a concern, of course, because Ms. Crawford has been basically told that she can apply to coach the girls’ team again this fall.

In fact, she was basically encouraged to do so.

But reading Bob Dunning today, and the fact not everyone seems to be on the same page, leads to some concerns.

Mr. Dunning spoke to board member Tim Taylor.  Mr. Dunning writes, “Not only will Crawford be ‘permitted’ to apply for the girls coaching position, if Taylor has his way she’ll be openly encouraged to do so with every expectation that the job will be hers.”

“That’s entirely her decision, of course,” Mr. Taylor told Bob Dunning. “But from my standpoint, she’s now back on a level playing field. I don’t see any reason to stretch this out. She’s dedicated and committed and successful and is genuinely interested in kids. Coaching volleyball is her passion. She has great support from the community and from her players, and that’s very encouraging. I’d welcome her back.”

But Mr. Dunning is at this point rightly skeptical: “Then again, Crawford already had been approved by her site administrators to coach the current boys volleyball team, but was stopped dead in her tracks by the district administration, including Superintendent Winfred Roberson.”

“What’s to say all this ‘welcome back’ talk isn’t a charade to placate a community that is clearly angry over what has transpired at our only high school?” Mr. Dunning writes.

He continues, “Suppose Crawford goes through the motions, applies for the girls job, is approved by her site administrators and is then once again denied at the district level. What then?”

“I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Tim Taylor responded to Bob Dunning. “It’s all behind us now. I don’t see why the administration would intercept it. And if they did, the board could overrule it.”

Mr. Dunning writes, “All of which begs the question as to why Crawford isn’t coaching now during the still-early boys volleyball season.”

“The boys season is already underway and she was never offered the job prior to the season,” Mr. Taylor explained. “The board felt it was best to leave it alone and let this season play out.”

We agree with Bob Dunning’s skepticism here as much as we believe that Mr. Taylor is being sincere.  The truth is that none of this appears to make a lot of sense.

As much as we have rightly blamed Nancy Peterson for much of this fiasco, the district has played a huge role at key parts.

We begin with the decision by the District not to offer a VSA (variable service agreement) to Ms. Crawford last summer – we have never received an explanation of what happened.  That led to an appeal by Ms. Crawford and the school board decision, by a 3-1 vote with Tim Taylor absent,  and Nancy Peterson’s  dissent.

Nancy Peterson then issued a statement that we continue to believe violated personnel rules and yet was not admonished by the board, administration or counsel.

Second, we have established a timeline for the current controversy.  The Petersons filed a complaint in September.  The investigation concluded in November.  The letter from Matt Best to the Petersons was issued on December 18.  And yet, Ms. Crawford believed up until the time that the VSA was pulled either in late January or early February, that she was coaching the team.

Third, the independent investigation consumed 99 hours and cost the district $22,000.  If you agree with Gina Daleiden, this was a failure for the district to recognize the difference between a true crisis and something that did not meet those standards.

The question I think a lot of people have is how the investigation into a volleyball player being cut became a 99 hour/22 thousand dollar affair.  Who oversees that?  Gina Daleiden indicated that the school board had no knowledge of any of this until there was an appeal.  Whose call was that?

The bottom line here is that, while Coach Crawford lost her appeal, the school board seemed to make promises on Thursday night that would mitigate the actual consequences of that decision.  Now we are getting indications that this might not be the case.

It seems that the district needs to do their own investigation into how they handle complaints and, if they can’t, maybe it is time for the Grand Jury to weigh in and compel the district to clean up their handling of complaints in situations like this.

—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. growth issue

    “It may have been summarized to her, but according to my information neither Julie Crawford nor her attorney have seen the report.”

    That’s unbelievable.

    1. PhilColeman

      It truly is, in every literal sense of the word, unbelievable. But if it does turn out to be true, we amend the term to “unbelievable error of judgment by one, and probably more, persons holding positions of public trust and accountability.”

      And for all those public and private folks who cry out for everybody to just “move on,” forget about it. With each turning page the story becomes, well, more and more unbelievable.

      1. Tia Will


        “And for all those public and private folks who cry out for everybody to just “move on,” forget about it”

        I don’t think that anyone, whether public or private, is urging to just “move on” in the sense of not addressing the obvious underlying problems.

        While I completely agree that the systems and processes that were used in this very messy business need serious reconsideration and revision, this entire episode can be seen as the evidence that major change is needed and will ultimately serve as the opportunity to effect those changes. Both Ms. Allen and Ms. Daleiden alluded to the need for serious reconsideration of process in their pronouncements but there are some who seem so emotionally invested in despising the board action that they are unwilling to address or consider these statements.

        What I do not see as useful is perpetuation of the anger and desire for what to me amounts to revenge in continuing to assume the worst about everyone even remotely involved in an unpopular decision.

        1. Fremontia

          Sorry its not that simple. Sheila is running for office and must be held accountable for part of the failure of governance that has occurred on her watch and her voting record that sustained that failure at the school board. Her remarks lamenting 21st century free speech further call into question her fitness to serve.

          1. Tia Will


            For me, it is your tone that decreases the impact of the ideas that you are attempting to express. When you state that “her remarks lamenting 21st century free speech further call into question her fitness to serve” I see this as nothing more than a cheap shot on your part. She said nothing of the kind. What she criticized was not free speech but the tone of that speech and the sentiment which I share that a lack of civility does nothing to promote the validity of one’s point of view and actually can have the opposite effect.

          2. Fremontia

            Yes the tone of the free speech must be controlled. I always thought that the limits on free speech were based on content not tone but maybe I’m mistaken. I also learned that it is the most offensive speech that is always the test for one’s commitment to it. When you are on a board where you must fill out a card to speak hearing it from angry people sitting at home writing anonymously must really get under her skin. I get that but the problem is if you can’t handle that it even exists. because you are not being forced to read it, then you shouldn’t be in public office because like it or not it goes with the territory.

          3. TrueBlueDevil

            My gut tells me what got under her skin was being “outed” for having her own little mini-celebration for her child in front of thousands of people at the DHS graduation. Entitlement for both the parents and child.

  2. Tia Will

    “What’s to say all this “welcome back” talk isn’t a charade to placate a community that is clearly angry over what has transpired at our only high school?” Mr. Dunning writes.

    One thing that we can absolutely trust is for Bob Dunning to put the most caustic spin possible on any action that he does not like. Why would he leap to the conclusion that rather than a “charade”, the “welcome back” talk is not the genuine opinion of some, but perhaps not all of the district and/or board members.

    While I agree that there is uncertainty here for Ms.Crawford, there is uncertainty for anyone applying for any job. Here in town what Ms. Crawford has going for her is very strong and apparently well earned support from the community and her players. Within the volleyball community, it would appear that she has achieved a reputation as a dedicated and caring coach. I personally wish her all the best whether she decides to stay on here or chooses to move on.

    Bob Dunning has made his mark and maintains his brand through sarcasm and spinning tales of what nefarious purpose must lie behind any public action to which he is opposed. I simply do not believe that there is necessarily attempt to deceive behind every public pronouncement not in alignment with Bob Dunning’s view of the world.

    1. SODA

      Tia; appreciate your view and your repeated encouragement to take the positive from all this….but if the report that Julie/her lawyer were not allowed to read the 72 pg report, don’t you think that is cause for continued criticism of the whole thing?

      OR can someone elaborate why not allowing them (the accused and the appellant) makes sense, is legal, etc.??

      1. Tia Will


        “don’t you think that is cause for continued criticism of the whole thing?”

        Personally, I do think it is cause for concern and possibly criticism. However, I say that as someone who is unfamiliar with the rules.

        I only know my own system. I know that if one of the doctors for whom I am assistant chief has a complaint against them, I have the responsibility to respond to that complaint. I also know that I have some discretion in how to respond. If there are repetitive complaints, there may be a duty to formally investigate either on the QA or on the HR side depending on the nature of the concerns. What I also know is what I am obliged to present to the doctor in question …… and what I am not obliged to present. For example, if I place a complaint and its response in their personnel file, I am obliged to inform them and they have the option of requesting a copy. It is my practice to provide them with a copy up front because I believe that is the right thing to do, however, I am not obligated to do so. Also, I am not obligated to inform them of every communication that I have had with the chair of my department or with HR en route to our decision with regard to the disposition of the concern. Some might see this as unfair or wrong on my part, especially if they did not know the intricacies of our system. I simply do not know what rules are operative for the school board and/or administrators and therefore do not feel I have the information necessary to criticize or in this case, cast stones.

        I have a lot of concern about the continued anger and dissension seen in posts that are not questions but rather demands, mud slinging, and ( in my opinion) desire to influence an upcoming election. I cannot believe that everyone making pronouncements has full knowledge of the constraints faced by the school board and administration.

        Again, asking questions is one thing. Claiming that people are incompetent, stupid, dishonest…..fill in your own adjective from the wealth of derogative terms that have been used, without full knowledge of the limitations within which they are operating does nothing to move forward and much to continue to divide us as a community.

        1. SODA

          Here’s a thought. Let’s take the Petersons’ out of the equation if we can and examine the District’s role and shortcomings, because as Tia says in a later post, best practtices is what we are after for the future and as hpiece says, ‘this type of situation should never happen again’.

          So, the VSA process of hiring, complaints and ‘firing’ should be examined; the roles of the AD, principal and Supt AND the Board should be examined in both the VSA and the academic complaint scenarios. And this should include the issue of investigative reports and who sees them.

          To borrow another medical analogy, I sbcgloba a process improvement chart/algorithm for these processes would be a way to start.

          Until then and until the Board acknowledges these things need addressing because they are flawed, I for one am not satisfied, and as hpierce says, reagardless of how I felt about the Thursday night decision.

          1. Tia Will

            I am with you on this SODA.

            And I believe that this is the direction that should be considered by the board and administration.

      2. hpierce

        If it is true that neither Coach, nor her Counsel, were afforded the opportunity to review he entire document, then it is reasonable (and appropriate) to keep ‘hounding’ on that. As to the “entire matter”, no. There is a lot of the things that led up to where we are now, that need to change, and I hope folks keep pressing on that. I believe tho’, the specific action on a given Thursday evening, should be laid o rest, and I definitely oppose adults mobilizing students to scream for a “re-do” on that narrow decision. I may well disagree with the decision, but I understand it.
        This type of situation should never happen again.

        1. hpierce

          I’d like to posit a “litmus test” for those who would seek appointment or election to the Board.

          “If you become a member of the board, and your child is either directly, or as part of a small group of students who would reasonably be affected by a decision in front of you, would you participate in Board deliberations on the matter, or vote upon it?” If the answer is “yes”, I’d say “no” to that aspiring Board member.

          1. Tia Will


            I completely agree with this. My preference would even go a bit further although I know this to be an unpopular opinion. My ideal school board candidate would be a person who has a passion for public education, but who does not have any children or grandchildren currently in the public school system.

            While this would minimize the possibility of the charge of favoritism or conflict of interest, from some of the vitriolic posts I have seen on this issue, I am sure that there are some who would still find a way to make it personal.

          2. Michelle Millet

            Tia-I disagree, I don’t think people with kids in the schools should be precluded from running. I do think we should elect candidates who prove to take an ethical approach to any conflict of interested issue. This is far more important to me then wether or not they have a child in the district.

            There are people out there capable of separating personal interests from personal ones, we should be seeking these people out and encouraging them to run.

          3. Tia Will


            I think that my comment was taken by you and others a little too broadly. Please note that I said “my ideal” candidate”. I certainly do not believe that not having a child or grandchild in the public schools should be a prerequisite, only that it should eliminate that from the potential criticisms.

            I also agree with the idea that a candidate for public office should have the fairness of mind to be able to separate their own best interest from that of the community. The problem in my mind is that it is not always able to be discerned in advance who will and who will not be able to make this distinction when the issue is something more nuanced than financial gain.

          4. Michelle Millet

            The problem in my mind is that it is not always able to be discerned in advance who will and who will not be able to make this distinction when the issue is something more nuanced than financial gain.

            This is the tricky part.

          5. hpierce

            Thank you for your aknowledgment, but I agree more closely with Michelle (below). Ethics, particularly being able to act against your own self-interest if it is the right thing to do for community/society isn’t unheard of, but is rarer than I think it should be.

          6. wdf1

            Tia: My ideal school board candidate would be a person who has a passion for public education, but who does not have any children or grandchildren currently in the public school system.

            I appreciate where this is coming from, but it seems extreme to me. Should we likewise elect city council members who don’t live in Davis? After all, every single city council member who lives in Davis stands to benefit personally (quality of life, if nothing else) from most agenda items.

            Practically speaking, it is having kids in the system that is the motivating factor for parents to get involved in leadership positions (PTA officer, etc.) that would naturally lead on a trajectory to school board trustee.

          7. Michelle Millet

            Another area of concern for me is electing officials who are invested in a particular program the district offers. I’m not opposed in general with these parents running but my hope is that their intention for doing so is not to use their position on the board to advocate for these programs above all others.

          8. wdf1

            That is a good point. It maybe necessary to separate blind advocacy for a particular program from articulating a comprehensive vision that may include certain kinds of programs. It is an example of how education is political, whether we like it or not — competing visions.

          9. Michelle Millet

            Even if we as community shared a vision, which imagine most of do, it seems hard to agree on the best way to achieve it.

          10. Mr.Toad

            Yeah but none of you get to decide. Only the remaining members of the board will decide what the criteria will be or who will be chosen and based on what we have seen lately of their ability to be judges of character I wouldn’t get my hopes up about who they will appoint.

    2. Nancy Price

      That’s what opinion pieces are: a view of the world. Read them and be enlightened, have your views confirmed or not, laugh or get angry, get motivated to learn more, modify your views or change course, but most of all, hopefully get thoughtfully engaged and take action if only to sit up a little straighter in your chair at the computer, breath deeply, small the roses, and get out there and rip up the lawn you don’t need any more and can’t afford to water.

    3. Fremontia

      i thought my remarks were much more caustic than anything Bob inning has written. Apparently you find any voice that isn’t all nicety nice to be dismissed as too angry. Too bad for you.

      1. Tia Will


        Honest question.
        I am just wondering what you think is gained, other than maybe some short term self righteous satisfaction from a snide or caustic comment ?

        Now Bob Dunning gets a chance to write on a regular basis as a newspaper contributor and has built a name around town with his personal style. Truly, what does anyone who is not developing a persona for commercial purposes get out of presenting themselves in a negative fashion ? And as for my perception of anger, I was quoting directly from at least two of your posts in which you said that you were angry, not some vague sense that your comments were not “all nicey nice”.

      2. growth issue

        I fully agree with Fremontia. It’s just the nature of the beast. When someone puts themselves “out there” people are going to talk, gossip, post comments on blogs and in newspapers amongst many other things. Everyone has an opinion but not everyone has a blog or writes articles for a newspaper, so they post in the comments section to get heard. I for one feel that the discussion has been very civil and those that are complaining are being over sensitive. Many revelations about this case have come from these blog and newspaper comments, I for one have enjoyed to input. So anyone who feels the comments are too harsh and we need to just move on and heal need to realise that they may feel that way but others have opinions and don’t. “All nicey nice” doesn’t always make for interesting reading or discussion.

        1. TrueBlueDevil

          This dynamic exchange of information was impossible with the “old media”. At best, with a newspaper, you could write a brief Letter to the Editor and hope for it’s publication. Talk radio was another step, and now we have interactive input at sites like The Vanguard.

  3. Michelle Millet

    The question I think a lot of people have is how the investigation into a volleyball player being cut became a 99 hour/22 thousand dollar affair.

    This is the part I’m having a hard time understanding. All this time, energy, and money was spent to determine that Crawford was guilty of an offense that was not bad enough to preclude her from ever coaching again, in fact, even though she was found guilty she is being encouraged to continue to coach.

    If the district is going to spend this amount of resources on a complaint, it should be a one that is significant enough to warrant more consequences then sorry you can’t coach this season, but please reapply next season because we think you are awesome!

  4. Tia Will

    “Nancy Peterson then issued a statement that we continue to believe violated personnel rules and yet was not admonished by the board, administration or counsel.”

    This is just one example of a statement of which we do not know the veracity. What we know is that Ms.Peterson was not admonished in public by any of the above. This is not the same thing as saying that no one discussed her actions with her. About that, we simply do not know.

    Again, an example from my work. When we are coaching, counseling and admonishing another physician, we never do this in public, or in our case for example at a department meeting. One downside to this is that other physicians who are counseled sometimes think that they are the only one and that they are being picked on when in reality some form of coaching, counseling and or admonishment ( all the way up to termination) is a possibility, and has occurred. However, it is not done in public and therefore no one but administration, HR and the individual physician is aware of what has occurred.

    I think David has taken the best approach here. He has identified processes that he feels need improvement and made them public. Think what a difference in tone there would be if everyone who has concerns listed them and sent them to the school board and administration from which to derive a template for action and to the Vanguard as a platform for community discussion. That is what I would see as a “best practices” path forward.

    1. hpierce

      From my faith/moral background, it is summarized that if your fellow hurts/injures you, take them aside and correct them. If they listen, you have won over your fellow. If they persist, refer the matter to the elders.

      From what I’ve seen, the former Board member had at least three strikes against them, the third being a self-righteous denial of the first two strikes.

      The other Board members should have taken public action on ‘strike two’, in my opinion.

    2. SouthofDavis

      Tia wrote:

      > Again, an example from my work. When we are coaching, counseling
      > and admonishing another physician, we never do this in public.

      You would NEVER do this in public?

      So if an unmarried female came in asking for birth control and the physician you were coaching called her a s*ut (like Rush Limbaugh has done) you would wait until you were in private to discuss his choice of words?

      Or if an African American came in with a injury and the doctor you were counseling said “I can’t believe how dumb (insert the “n word”) are always getting in accidents you would NEVER say anything in front of the patient?

      1. Michelle Millet

        This is an interesting argument. At one point does not addressing missteps openly and instead waiting to address them in privately translate into condoning the behavior to observers who are not privy to back room conversations.

        Speaking generally, not specifically to this situation, I’m not a big fan in general of dealing with unethical behavior from elected officials behind the scenes. At some point I think it is appropriate to point out this behavior in a public setting. Doing so gives me more trust in the fact that our elected officials are looking out for their constituents not just their colleagues.

      2. Tia Will


        That is correct. I would never make the admonishment in public. Believe it or not, I have been faced with an analogous if not identical situation. My response was the following:

        1) To the individual patient, I apologized profusely and informed them that the physician in question ( in this case a resident in training) would be disciplined. The patient expressed appreciation for my explanation, apology and prompt action.

        2) To the resident, in public, I said to him that I needed to speak with him in private immediately. In the privacy of a lounge, I explained to him the error of his ways and that this behavior was never acceptable and would not be tolerated. That if he ever wanted to work on any of my units again this would be the only episode of its sort. He took it to heart and never had another breach of this type of conduct.

        3) To the residents as a whole, I reviewed the policy of how to address patients and what were and what were not acceptable statements.

        I saw no need for public shaming then, and i see no need for it now.

        Although I see Michelle’s point, I feel that the same point can be made to the public by pointing out that an issue has arisen, and that steps will be taken to address that situation and to lay out precisely what those steps will be without a public dressing down.

        This is in fact, as per SODA’s post, exactly what I hope the school board will choose to do.

        1. Fremontia

          So its okay for Nancy Peterson to rip Julie Crawford for undefined transgressions from the dais but its not alright for Sheila Allen, as President of the board, to pound the gavel and tell her to stop in real time. I’m not buying it. Besides Sheila didn’t even call a recess and tell her to stop privately. Sheila in my opinion failed to deter Nancy Peterson in any manner and I believe that this is a material lapse further exacerbated by her vote to sustain the Superintendents decision on Crawford not being the spring VB coach. In my opinion these actions and failures to act disqualify Sheila Allen from serving in higher office and I will not vote for her and I will ask everyone I know not to vote for her.

          1. Tia Will


            “So its okay for Nancy Peterson to rip Julie Crawford for undefined transgressions from the dais but its not alright for Sheila Allen”

            It is certainly your choice if you chose to misrepresent what others have said. But please, show me where in any of my posts I indicated in any way that I felt it was “okay for Nancy Peterson to rip Julie Crawford for undefined transgressions from the dais”. Actually please show me any comment that I made that was in any way supportive of the Peterson’s actions.

            But I would like to use your comment as a means of illustrating my point about undermining one’s own position through exaggeration and smears. Because of your distortions of my position, my mind tends to wonder what else you might be distorting.

            For instance, could you be distorting the actions of Sheila Allen, and might that not tend to make me look upon her more favorably knowing that you have been willing to distort my position ?

          2. Matt Williams

            Tia, I think you are missing the key point that Fremontia is making. Specifically, that by failing to act in a timely and forceful manner, the Board (and in Fremontia’s example, Sheila Allen as the Chair of the Board in charge of the meeting) gave tacit approval to Nancy Peterson’s actions.

            Calling an immediate recess of the meeting before acting on Nancy’s request to pull the item from the consent calendar would have been the appropriate proactive step to take. Using your model, which I fundamentally agree with, the Board would repair to the break room and the Board would have pointed out to Nancy the conflict of interest (possibly even the abuse of power) that her request to pull the consent item entailed. They would have then come out from behind closed doors and resumed the meeting, with Sheila, as the Board Chair reporting that Nancy’s request was out of order because of her conflicted status.

            That would have been the way to handle the situation using your methodology.

            Unfortunately, your methodology in the case at hand is actually against the law … specifically the provisions of the Brown Act. If Sheila had done the above described steps, she would have been calling an unannounced/unnoticed Closed Session meeting of the Board, which is a clear Brown Act violation.

            So, there really are only two options, either the Board takes the steps overtly in public to correct their colleague’s conflicted action, or the Board gives Nancy Peterson’s actions their tacit approval by failing to correct her behavior.

            Given the above, I have to disagree with you in your characterization of Fremontia’s “distortions of [your] positions.” Rather than affecting any distortion, I believe Fremontia is simply putting your position into context … a context that is prescribed by the law.

          3. chris

            ^^Exactly what I think the Board did wrong last time. Their silence when Peterson acted inappropriately in effect condoned her actions. In Tia’s example, even though she didn’t publicly chastise the resident, she was able to send a clear message to the patient that the resident’s behavior was unacceptable and would not be tolerated.

            I don’t believe we ever got that signal from Allen that anything was amiss in her or the Board’s view. Only now that that public outcry has been loud and clear, Peterson has stepped down, and the appeal is over, do we hear some sort of rebuke by the Board. We might never have even gotten that much if Crawford hadn’t put herself through the appeal and Peterson hadn’t resigned

          4. Fremontia

            I didn’t say you said those things I was showing the weakness of your position by showing the failure of your arguments based on what actually happened as compared to your failed analogies based on your own professional experience.

            And what do I hope to gain. I hope to defeat Sheila Allen for city council not because of water or firefighters or graduation or fluoride but because of her record as a school board member and her participation in what they did to Julie Crawford. And that like my tone or not is called free speech in America.

          5. Robin W

            Tia, I am sorry. I have never said this to any other poster on the Vanguard, but I am getting very uncomfortable reading your posts the past few days because, in so many of them, you criticize or attack or raise inferences about the writer of the post, rather than responding to the point or content of the post. In the past I generally appreciated your posts and did not see this in them. It is just recently. Your comments have not been so vicious as to get the Vanguard courtesy police involved, but they are uncomfortable to read. I wish you would stop doing it.

      3. hpierce

        I wouldn’t, in front of the patient, the first time… but I would remind the offender that this will not be tolerated, and it’s like some forms of softball… two strikes and you’re out(ed).

  5. SouthofDavis

    Phil wrote:

    > And for all those public and private folks who cry out
    > for everybody to just “move on,” forget about it.

    It looks like everyone has not just “moved on” and “forgot about it” since I saw at least three Nancy Peterson for School Board signs this morning when I was out for a morning ride (including one on the lawn in front of the district office across from the city hall pool)…

  6. wdf1

    A somewhat related issue to school board trust that has come up elsewhere, whether to end democratically elected school boards or not. As difficult and contentious as things may get, I think democratically elected school boards are a good thing.

    Washington Post blog, 3/14/2014: Netflix’s Reed Hastings has a big idea: Kill elected school boards

    At a meeting of the California Charter Schools Association on March 4, he said in a keynote speech that the problem with public schools is that they are governed by elected local school boards. Charter schools have boards that are not elected and, according to his logic, have “a stable governance” and that’s why “they constantly get better every year.”


    “Now if we go to the general public and we say, “Here’s an argument why you should get rid of school boards” of course no one’s going to go for that. School boards have been an iconic part of America for 200 years. So what we have to do is to work with school districts to grow steadily, and the work ahead is really hard because we’re at 8% of students in California, whereas in New Orleans they’re at 90%, so we have a lot of catchup to do…So what we have to do is continue to grow and grow… It’s going to take 20-30 years to get to 90% of charter kids….And if we succeed over the next 20 or 30 years, that will be one of the fastest rates of change ever seen around the world for a large system, it’s hard.”

    Actually, all charter schools don’t have stable governance and all of them aren’t getting better every year (plenty close because of their lousy governance) and even charter advocates have called for changes to improve governance structures. What Hastings is suggesting is that democratic elections themselves create unacceptable instability in governance of public education.

    Hastings is right, of course, to say that elections can cause a change in policy when people with different ideas are elected. That’s what elections are for in a democracy. And certainly there have been — and still are — locally elected school boards that are miserable at their jobs. On the other hand, charter schools, financed primarily with public funds, have appointed boards not accountable to the public.

    And a rebuttal op-ed from the San Jose Mercury, 3/14/14: Reed Hastings is wrong: A school board member’s defense

    1. Tia Will


      I really appreciated the juxtaposition of these two points of view regarding elected public school boards vs appointed private boards. The comment that most resonated with me was:

      “School boards exist because public schools belong to and are directly accountable to the communities they serve. That is what makes them public.”

      I have had a child in public school and a child in private school. Of the two, I found the public schools, both teachers, principles, and counsellor’s much more receptive to concerns at the public than at the private school.
      I strongly support private schools for those who want to send their children to them.
      I strongly object to the public funding of schools over which I have no influence at all either through direct action with individuals at the level of my concern or my inability to vote out a board member with whom I am in disagreement.

  7. wdf1

    I liked what Dunning had to say at the end of his column. By the way, here’s the link.

    If she leaves, it’s our loss and a sad commentary on the abuse of power in our community.

    But if she can forgive and forget, and be a bigger person than her adversaries, we should count our lucky stars.

    It’s not a perfect outcome, to be sure, but it’s better than the punch in the gut many of us felt when the board’s decision was announced late Thursday night.

  8. Nancy Price

    Re: Bob Dunning:
    That’s what opinion pieces are: a view of the world. Read them and be enlightened, have your views confirmed or not, laugh or get angry, get motivated to learn more, modify your views or change course, but most of all, hopefully, get thoughtfully engaged and take action if only to sit up a little straighter in your chair at the computer, breath deeply, small the roses, and get out there and rip up the lawn you don’t need any more and can’t afford to water.

  9. TrueBlueDevil

    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.”

    So yes, given California law, I think a lot of our leaders may be incompetent.

    Option 2 is that Nancy Peterson (or her proxies) picked the investigative law firm, which had already found in her favor in the investigation of former coach Ms. Leigh Whitmire Choate’s complaint against Nancy Peterson; and then buffaloed the administrators and board into thinking this was a highly sensitive, top-secret report, which could be used to hang her, but she couldn’t review.

    I wonder if such behavior is worth submitting to the DLSE?

  10. Robin W

    Pulling the VSA (and then affirming on appeal) based on a report Crawford was and is not permitted to see?? If the Board was acting in a “quasi judicial capacity,” as we have been told, where do they come off treating as evidence something the employee can’t rebut?? If the Board is comfortable with that, how can we expect them to repair all the problems this mess has exposed? Very sad.

    1. growth issue

      Robin, I fully agree. At this point is Julie Crawford forced by some rule to remain silent and not speak of the case? If not I would sure like to hear her side of this.

      1. Mr.Toad

        Probably, teachers are not supposed to publicly discuss individual student issues. It is not only a violation of a common policy of most districts it is also unethical.

    2. TrueBlueDevil

      This whole fiasco shows the difference to me between education — and wisdom, common sense, ethics, and courage.

      This sounds like Tim Taylor and Susan Lovenburg are supporting Winfred Roberson, and Matt Best.

      Ironically, Sheila Allen also has a PhD (like NP), and Lovenburg’s DavisWiki says she “completed the California School Boards Association Masters in Governance program in 2011.”

    3. chris

      It really is shocking the kinds of decisions being made. Allen and Lovenberg have an editorial today that tries to explain their decision but it leaves me more confused. They say “a preponderance of the evidence supported the conclusion that a coach made a poor judgment call which had negative consequences for a student.” I thought the improper conduct had to be retaliatory in nature to warrant disciplinary action. Did they just forget that term or did they not use the correct standard? It’s interesting that Taylor didn’t sign the editorial too.

      In any event, I think the fact that Crawford wasn’t allowed to review the report and only got something of a summary at the hearing is most troublesome. Again, it’s hard to “move on” knowing this is how things are run in our district. And if this is what we see when a high profile case is under the microscope, I shudder to thinks what is going on outside public view.

  11. Mr.Toad

    Robin, thank you for your loyalty to the law and your ability to see through all the nonsense and spell it out for us teachers. But I wonder how long does Julie Crawford have to file a complaint with the courts? It seems she might want to wait until the fall to see if she is given the coaching job back or she might want to follow opportunities that arise elsewhere. I have never met her but spent over two decades in the classroom so I know what the pain she has suffered feels like. Still the courts might be of limited use to her depending on the causes of action, the expenses incurred pursuing them, the emotional toll a protracted legal fight might take on her, the potential damages she might obtain and the remedies any court might impose. Bearing all this in mind can you shed any light on what the potential liabilities to the district might be if she won considering the small sums paid to coaches for their long hours of service.

  12. TrueBlueDevil

    I just learned that Tim Taylor is a well-respected lawyer. Interesting. Well, he doesn’t practice employment law.

    His favorite Quote is quite interesting: ” ‘You’re killing me, Smalls!’ From the movie “The Sandlot,” meant to show extreme frustration towards someone’s ineptitude.’ “

  13. Mr.Toad

    Trust like respect is earned. In politics it is called political capital. This board has spent all its political capital. They had the chance to do the right thing and restore trust and regain political capital when Peterson resigned but they lost that chance and spent any that remained when they voted to support their district administration at the expense of Julie Crawford. They are now operating under a deficit of goodwill and will limp along until November when the voters will have the chance to provide new members who can try to earn the public’s trust again.

  14. TrueBlueDevil

    How can any school employee, staff, teacher, or citizen know they will get a fair shake from these people, when they ambushed the coach, again.

    And they had the unmitigated gall to not allow her to read the “investigative report”, which was the cornerstone of undermining her job as a coach!! My hunch was that this violated California employment law (an employee is allowed to review their personnel file, unless there is a report which covers a criminal act); and Robin W has researched it and found that their actions may actually violate California law a second time (State employees have to be informed if negative items are added to their personnel file… I believe this is what Robin wrote a day ago… and they can add a reply.)!

    This sounds more like the actions of some backwards town in Alabama, not the actions of The Second Most Educated City in America. *cough* What a crock!

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