Opinion Forum

This page exists to allow Cordovans to express/exchange views on the recent School Board actions regarding the 10/2009 suspension of the Alcohol policy in the Student Handbook.  Names are included if requested by the author.

To submit comments, email us at SBforum@cordovaradio.com

Or, if you cannot email, or do not wish to email, you are welcome to call 3796, fax 3737, mail to box 60, or drop something by the station, and I will gladly transcribe your comments.

(This page is not authorized, controlled, or (necessarily) endorsed by the Cordova School District -- it is an independent, listener requested forum)

Resource Links

Audio from the 12/14/09 workshop and meeting

WORKSHOP (1:03:24, 60.8MB)
    PUBLIC TESTIMONY #1 (30:06, 28.9MB)
SB DELIBERATION (22:04, 21.2MB)
PUBLIC TESTIMONY #2 & BOARD COMMENTS (18:16, 17.5MB)

Audio from the 10/23/09 meeting reacting to the 10/14/09 decision

High Quality Audio (112MB file)

Low Quality Audio (14MB file)

Minutes of the 10/14/09 School Board Meeting (all in pdf format)

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#1 -- school staff member -- added 11/18, 11:07am

"JR- this sounds familiar, I wonder what ever happened in this case,  was it changed?"

LINK TO PDF OF REFERENCED ARTICLE



#2 -- J.R. Lewis -- added 11/18, 11:46am

Hey all -- thanks for the idea for this forum, and I hope it gives people a chance to have their say.  I'll contribute my that letter I wrote for the 11/16 meeting (with the note that none of the questions were even close to answered by anybody).

11/10, 11:25am

To: CDV School Board
Fm: J.R.Lewis
Re: Correspondence for 11/16/09 meeting

Greetings.

I plan to ask these in person, but just so I’m sure it’s on the record, I am also writing the questions prior to the 5 day deadline with the hope that this note will be included in correspondence.

I would like to have the members of the board address the following:

(1) Why was it necessary to make that change in the alcohol policy on the night you did, without giving it just a little more time for balanced testimony and public notice, given the high potential for this to appear to be a reactionary decision as a result of the context (i.e. a policy violation on the very policy being changed)?

(2) Looking back, and considering the fallout since, do you stand by the decision to make the call that night, or do you now believe that waiting a bit and allowing more balanced input would have been a better choice?

(3) Related closely to (2), if faced with a similar situation in the future, do you expect you would handle the issue the same way that this was handled, or would you likely take a more deliberate approach?

Thank you, in advance, for your clarification on these points at the 11/16 meeting, perhaps during board comments if not before.


#3 -- school staff member (same as #1) -- added 11/18, 12:17pm

Jr- here's an article by a Dr. Keith Conner- maybe we could get him to chat since he is a DR. It shows how a violaters actions really play out in a coaches life.

LINK TO PDF OF REFERENCED ARTICLE

#4 -- school staff member (same as #1) -- added 11/18, 12:33pm

Article relating to South Plainfield GREAT!!!!!!!!!!! (follow up to link in #1)

LINK TO PDF OF REFERENCED ARTICLE

#5 -- parent -- added 11/18, 9:21pm

"Still having a son in HS, is very hard now. Luckily, he too is angry at the back peddling of the board. He works hard to stay in shape and on the team and then sees others willfully break the rules and go against the contracts they have signed two years in a row. We were all told at the viewing of the AASA video that the CHS rules were much more strict than the AASA rules. So we all, students and parents, understood exactly what we signed. I'm having a hard time accepting that only the parents and kids who didn't 'understand' the rules are the ones who got caught."

#6 -- teacher -- added 11/18, 9:26pm

The Board has opened Pandora's box!  If policy can be changed at one board meeting because 4 vocal parents argue the consequences their children received are too harsh, every policy we have (from attendance rules to graduation requirements) are open to arbitrary interpretation.  The purpose of policy (and the strict one we adopted) is to remove the arbitrary element.  The staff are incensed and outraged. Many of us feel betrayed, we can’t trust the Board to back us up.  A couple are considering not taking coaching positions in the future.

The Board also acted without input from the silent majority — staff, students and parents who do follow school policy.  And what about the legality of their going into Executive session to discuss this when it had nothing to do with finances or personnel.  Then, to take and action/change policy without due process.  Changes to the policy manual often go through 2 – 3 public readings.

Parents argue our athletic code is more stringent than ASSA’s rules.  True.  So are our attendance, citizenship and graduation requirements more stringent that the state’s. What is to stop another vocal group to say that such-and-such a teacher’s class is too hard, harder than schools in Anchorage and my child should be allowed to graduate even if he/she has not met the established criteria.  We pride ourselves in the level of excellence we strive for as a school district.  We have lowered the bar here.

Students and parents signed athletic codes; the rules were clear.  Their claim was they were unaware of the harsh consequences.  It is really disappointing that adults do not read the contracts they sign. Nor do they hold their children to the contracts they sign and agree to.  What are we teaching here?  Your signature, your word, your honor mean nothing when you make a mistake?  (Or because you are a star volleyball player/wrestler?)

The athletes involved planned a party, met at the trailhead, walked 3 miles into the Mckinley Lake cabin carrying the alcohol.  This was a premeditated event, not a case of “at the wrong place at the wrong time” incident.  They can organize themselves to violate a code, but not be held accountable when they do so.

I could go on. .... Bottom line - I think the real issue is Cordova good ol’ boys-influential families-star athletes-we are not accountable like everyone else politics.  I’d suggest listening to recording of the meeting.  Some interesting and convoluted reasoning on the part of those who spoke. 

#7 -- CHS student -- added 11/18, 9:30pm

In My opinion, I think that the original action should have been kept.  The whole point of some of those kids going to the meeting was to do just what they did.  Now, granted there was a fault in the school system and I am not a volleyball player, but what I think is that the schools should not go back on what they originally said which was that they were off the team.  I feel really bad for the coaches.  It's just sad that he has to be left up to this decision. 


#8 -- staff member -- added 11/18, 9:32pm

The meeting agenda was misleading. Had more people 
known what was going to be discussed took place, we would have seen 
more of the opposing view, than just the ramblings of blinded parents. 


#9 -- parent -- added 11/18, 9:35pm

I am having a hard time with this issue.  It is difficult being in such a
close community, to put out opinions that are most likely adverse to the
majority.  Or at least the majority of the ones that were at the meeting to
speak up.  I feel that we not informed that there was a possibility that
changes would be made immediately and that we should voice our opinion.

But the important issue is that if we change this policy and make it more
lenient there will be more kids willing to "take the risk" of getting
caught.  The current policy of 45 school days sends the message that you
will not be on the team if you are caught-so if you really want to
participate, behave!!  Maybe it is too strict and some changes can be made,
I am willing to do that.  However, changing a policy after some kids have
been kicked of the teams is not right.  Now other kids can think that they
can do it too.  I really like all of those girls and hated to see them so
upset.  But this is how we all learn.  They are old enough to know what they
were doing was wrong and what the consequences would be if they were caught.
Now we have just made excuses for them.

#10 -- citizen -- added 11/18, 9:38pm

This alcohol policy has been a very controversial in the community and within the school board itself. I think they are struggling to on how to deal with the issue now that it is in the limelight. I know there has been some discussion even a few years ago when the policy was adopted as to why Cordova was going beyond most other schools in the state, but nothing was actually put on the table for the board to take action on.  Now, there are new board members since that time and were faced head on with the issue and were not prepared for it. The quandary in my mind is this. The fairness is to the girls on the volleyball that did not participate in the drinking. They had a chance to take a state title and the immature actions of a few good players has damaged these other girls dreams. Tough position to be in no doubt. The girls that were involved lost all of my respect because they knew the ramifications and did it anyway. Kids do stupid things sometimes and they need to learn life lessons. How do we as a community deal with the issue that penalizes innocent kids for the actions of a few knowing that the few are getting off easy. Maybe the parents and students involved need to come up with some alternative punishment in this case - community service, no opportunity to be involved in Ice worm, etc. I don't know the answer.

#11 -- citizen -- added 11/18, 9:40pm

My personal take on this is that a few parents with extra pull in the community got their kids off the hook, even tho they knew they clearly violated the existing code -  by using the ASAA guidelines as a cop-out.  Give me a break, these kids and their parents have been signing this code for years, and as far as I know, ignorance of the law is not an excuse.  Some even lied and covered up for their kids.   Plus these kids are no dumbies, and knew the code.  Shame on them and their parents for causing this mess.  Serve the 45 days, which would almost already be up, admit you screwed up, and go on from there.   It's embarrassing that last year a jr hi boys ballplayer, who happened to be a Filipino, was kicked off the team with no problems, but this year, its some of the stars, so now we throw out the code. If I was a parent of one of these kids, I would have made him serve the 45 days, regardless of what the board did.  Instead we just taught them that rules really don't count - if you're special.


#12 -- citizen -- added 11/18, 9:41pm

My biggest peeve is with the board and administration.  What were they thinking?  Why didn't they stand up to these parents?  I honestly think they violated their own policy manual which requires public hearings, first and second readings, and careful thought before adopting new policy - and is not completely eliminating a long standing policy the most drastic, egregious policy change possible?  I suspect if someone wanted to challenge them legally, it could get very interesting.

And what about the kids that DO follow the code?  Is this fair to them?  They get to fill in and play for a week, until the party crowd comes back and knocks them off the team.  So much for discipline, sacrifice, responsibility, and team work.

#13 -- citizen -- added 11/18, 9:44pm

I have talked with several of the coaches and advisors, and will tell you point blank that staff morale regarding this is at an all time low.  This is about the worst message possible to send to a group of youngsters - if you don't like the rules, and are special, we will change them for you.  What kind of principles does that reflect?    I have also gotten vibes from  folks in the community that they just have lost a lot of respect for the school as a result of this, and won't support it with the same degree of enthusiasm as in the past.   I am not naive enough to think that kids haven't broken the rules every year, but when caught, they paid the price  (including some in my own family, who bless them were honest and took their punishment)

I also know more than one person who has said he would not serve on a committee to make up new rules, since how does one know another board won't act as this one did and succumb to pressure at crunch enforcement time.

And I am livid that a parent threatened to take his son to Valdez to wrestle and play basketball unless the board changed the policy; and this same parent and his son were were cheerfully travelling on the ferry for a wrestling trip, less than two weeks after violating the Code.

#14 -- former staff member -- added 11/18, 9:47pm

It is interesting that no one had a real issue with the policy, until some key kids got caught or admitted breaking it.  If it needs changing, fine - but do it the right way.

What happened here violates all the precepts at the very core of what activities are intended to teach.

Thanks for taking a stand!

#15 -- citizen/parent -- added 11/18, 9:49pm

Hey JR, good job on keeping at this one.  I get the same feeling of a run around the block as you do.  They must all be looking at higher Political careers in the 2012 elections.  Anyway keep up the pursuit, we are listening!

#16 -- J.R. Lewis -- added 11/18, 9:49pm

Hey all, thanks for your patience as I get these in as fast as I can.  Had a busy day with play rehearsal, and prep for the next one.  But I will continue to update this as often as time allows.  Great to see so many using the forum!!!

And too, I'm hoping to add a link to the letters that were submitted at one of the first post-vote meetings.  I just gotta find 'em in my enormous piles of stuff  :p

#17 -- parent -- added 11/18, 9:59pm

I can understand why people are upset on how the board acted, but I also understand why they acted so quickly. First, from my understanding, the code was not explained as it was the year before since Donald was new and not at the volleyball meeting. Second, I had no idea what the code was and was shocked at the level of harshness. I feel that they are the officals that we elected to make policy decisions and not everyone will agree all of the time on the decisions that the board makes, but they are doing the job we entrusted them with. All laws, state, federal and local are subject to change over time. Kinks must be worked out. After thinking about it long and hard, I feel that ASAA's rules should be installed and followed as our code. The state worked hard on these rules, and they seem to be working. With ASAA's rules there is no emotion, no opinon, just rules that cannot be challenged and cannot be overturned. I feel that they are fair, allow for second chance and more importantly do not strip a child that has made a bad decision and participated in high risk behavior of all they are involved in. I think anyone can see that a student that has nothing to do will be put into a position of possibly participating in even more risky behavior.  So I have to say the board, in my opinion, acted in a way that was appropriate, we elected them to make decisions and they did.

#18 -- citizen -- added 11/19, 11:36am

I think it's pretty obvious what happened. The board got swept up in a wave of emotional testimony and made a rash decision without thinking it through.  Classic case of not being able to see the forest for the trees in the heat of the moment.  The thing i don't get is, why don't they just admit it?  Why put their tails between their legs and try to pretend it's anything else?

#19 -- J.R. Lewis -- added 11/19, 11:53am

In response to an email I got this morning, and as a follow up to my entry at #2 where I posted the 3 questions I had asked each of the board members if they would address in their end-of-meeting comments, I've got the transcription of the "answer" from the chair, after each of the other board members had made their comments (none of which acknowledged my questions at all).  This is what came at the end:

Chair: It’s not for lack of wanting to engage as far as answering the questions that have been posed.  A lot of people have put a lot of work into this.  Into the public process of this.  But, the board has a process to follow.  And I feel that what was contained in this message from Mr. Nygaard, answered some of those questions, and now we’re going through that process.  And when the item’s on the agenda, that’s when the board speaks to it.  So, as we’ve seen, there’s a diverse range of values and expectations with respect to school disciplinary policies.  And it’s the board’s job to find that middle ground.  And, we have to respect all those diversified opinions.  So, I appreciate everybody's work on that.  And we’ll just continue with the process, and hopefully narrow it down to where the board... what we’ll eventually do.  Hope that helped J.R.

J.R.: I’ll have to listen back to it I guess... I’m not 100% sure.

Chair: It’s difficult, you know, when you pose these questions because each board member has a different answer to those questions, and, you know, I don’t.. I can't speak for the board in that respect.  This was, you know, what we published.

J.R.: But you told me I couldn’t get the answers from the individual board members because that was inappropriate.

Chair: I told you it would... it... there’s a process to be followed.  I sent you the bylaws, OK?  So, we also have a process that has to be followed.  We have discovered inconsistencies in the policies, and I believe that there’s additional inconsistencies that have surfaced since we made this (word unintelligible).  So, we will continue on the process, and it’ll hopefully be on our December agenda if the steering committee um... gets to that point... with it.  And yeah, thanks everybody.  I know you’ve put  a lot of your own personal time into this.  We appreciate that.

As an aside, I would point out that I followed the process in the bylaws to the letter, and still got nowhere (other than that to be told, again, that I need to "follow the process").  The administration said (verbally) that it can't speak for the board -- that only the board can do that.   And the board counters that it can only speak through the administration, which had just told me it can't speak for them.  Ummmm... OK.  Here's a PDF of the bylaw page the chair sent me if you want a look.

I also never asked the chair to speak for the board, but had asked each individual board member if they had any clarity on this.  And the message from Mr. Nygaard, referenced by the chair, did not (in my recollection) address any of the questions I was asking regarding the speed of the decision, nor reflection upon it, nor whether a decision might be made in this manner again.

So in this reporter's opinion (and in the unanimous opinion of everyone at the meeting who spoke to me afterwards), I got completely dodged.  BUT, if anyone sees/believes/heard something to the contrary, PLEASE TELL ME -- because honest to God, enlightenment is all I'm after here.  Does the board consider this whole thing to have been a proper way to do business, and will they do it like this again the next time something like this comes up?  OR, do they think they'd handle it differently given the community reaction since.  There's no right or wrong answer -- just tell us.  But don't say nothing, because that has serious implications for how business gets conducted in the future -- and the public has a right to know what to expect.  Can anything in the handbook be set aside at any time with virtually no warning or justification, or will the process be more deliberate in the future?  I wish SOMEONE would just TELL US!

#20 -- parent of CHS student -- added 11/19, 7:21pm

I really don’t believe the school board had any ulterior motive to get the student athletes back on the teams sooner.  I also believe that they DID have plans to change the “Code of Conduct” in some way.  By stating on the agenda “Information/Action” the board left themselves an opening for a vote based on public comment and letters they had received to that point.  Unfortunately, many community members did not know that there was an issue that would be so highly one sided at that particular meeting.  Had community members been aware that the Board would do a flip-flop, I believe more people for the other camp would have made their statements known.

Because this has not been a regular occurrence with this board, (to change policy and retroactive it), no one really expected them to do so and thus it has stirred up a lot of resentment and a lack of confidence in this board.

I think, JR that you will not hear a board member give you the answers you seek because of confidentiality in their Executive Session.  Only the board knows what was said and why and they really can’t and shouldn’t repeat it.  As far as repeating their actions in another issue, I hope they’ve learned a lesson.
Did they do the right thing?  No.  Should they reverse it again?  Absolutely not!  Should they listen to all sides now and come up with a policy that is fair and that will keep students from committing these violations in the first place?  Yes.

Let’s move forward toward a good result and REALLY have our say in the March elections.

#21 -- citizen -- added 11/19, 7:23pm

JR, I was at the meeting, and, yes, you were put off. The present school bd is following two different sets of standards: They made a quick change in the "Rules" in October and didn't follow their own policy by "listening only" at the meeting, yet on 11/16 they listened only to what we presented and didn't make a hasty decision. It is truly confounding and is showing true stupidity!!! It's called situation ethics--change the rules to fit the situation... I feel if it was any other child/children involved in the violation, the old rules would have stood. I still feel like the old rule/student activity code should have been in place UNTIL the new one was formulated and approved by the school board. That's how laws usually work. What happened here???

#22 -- citizen -- added 11/19, 7:25pm

Maybe the question should have been; "What were some of the discrepancies in the former policy that would cause the board to vote to change the policy?" Sometimes I don't ask the right questions. When you ask about what was the feeling in an executive meeting that caused the change, they'll bristle and clam up. They are not supposed to talk about those efforts in open forum or they are just not sure what is appropriate to say and what is not.
Valerie was right to remind the group that there would be no interchange between visitors and the board. There usually isn't. But I was really expecting more board members to respond to your questions during their comment time.

#23 -- teacher -- added 11/19, 7:27pm

Yeah I was shocked (at the meeting on the 16th). At first I thought they weren't even going to comment but ignore you altogether. Then when Valerie actually commented about it, I was disappointed to say the least. I don't know what the previous conversations between you two were, but it sure sounds like they are evading the issue. I wonder why?

#24 -- school employee -- added 11/20, 6:43pm

Regarding #17's comment

1. The offending athletes who violated code were NOT first year athletes. They AND their parents watched the ASAA video and signed the same contract the year before. Nothing new there.

2. Drinking alcohol is against the law. Nothing new here either.

3. They are students and therefore are educated, so they can read the policy handbook.

4. Ignorance of a law or policy is no excuse to break the rules and AFTER the fact complain about it. They made a poor choice here!

5. They have already participated in "risky behavior",  drinking alcohol. What makes one think that they won't do it again anyway. Like Jim Nygguard the superintendent stated he spoke to one of the students who said they really didn't care what the punishment was, they just wouldn't tell NEXT time. Now that attitude is an attention getter...this obviously says who cares what anyone else says- parents, school or law, team.

6. Did they (school board) "act appropriate" seems to me only the violators were considered. What about the "entire" school...coaches, teachers, parents of kids that chose to uphold the policy, other students...the list goes on and on. Pandora's box is open.
 
Check out one of the newer links on this sight...drinking at prom, parents of violaters complained, school board caved, students walked at graduation...mmm What's next for Cordova?
 
Pity!

#25 -- citizen -- added 11/25, 8:22pm

It is unfortunate for all involved that the school board will not address the issue of why they felt they had to make that decision when they did.  And even more unfortunate that a few parents thought that they had the right to push the board into making a reversal that affects all students and their families-without consulting the other approximately 200 families!  Several of these students involved have parents who grew up in Cordova and have known that our high school has such a stict policy.  If you thought it needed to be changed, do it at a time when the policy has not just been broken.
 
Our children look to us for guidance as they grow up.  They need us to set limits and inforce consequences when those limits are violated.  The school's strict policy serves as positive peer pressure and back up for family policies and values.  Yes, kids make mistakes-so do adults.  Several of these kids will be going off on their own in a few months.  What happens when they break a law?  Or sign a lease contract and then break it?  What have we just taught not only these students, but all of the students?
 
I have heard the argument that if these students could not participate in their sport or activity than of course they will just go out partying and causing more problems.  What about the students who do not participate in sports and/or other activities?  Are they all trouble makers?  Children strive to attain goals that their parents/guardians set for them.  Set tough goals, and guide them through.  Don't make it easy for them to make mistakes.  What if someone had been seriously hurt or even killed as a result of that one party?  It happens.  It has happened in Cordova.  Let's do all we can to see that it doesn't happen again.
 
Isn't it amazing the amount of stress and grief and this change of policy has caused?  I appreciate those who are willing to stick with the fight to ensure that we get the best policy for all of our students/families/community.  Let's send the right message.

#26 -- citizen -- added 11/25, 8:38pm

J.R.

My two questions:

(1) If these people will just toss out anything in the handbook at any time, then why the hell have a handbook?  What's the point?  it's a joke.

(2) Not that we'll ever get an answer, since we never seem to get any answers out of that bunch, but exactly what lesson do they think they are teaching the kids with this crap?  If they ever had the courage to say "students, here's what we want you to learn from this...", what would it be?  I agree with (name removed) -- this is the absolute worst decision a Cordova  School board has made in the last 30 years.

#27 -- parent -- added 12/4, 9:46am

Thanks for putting up the minutes.  After reading them, it's pretty obvious to me what happened.  They felt the heat and caved.  Because 4 families (two of them with kids who violated the policy) complained, the board freaked and disregarded the dozens of families represented in the making of the previous policy in the handbook.  The work of dozens over months undone by the actions of a handful in one night.  Makes no sense.    And didn't Val  say  that the boards job was to find middle ground?  How is placing the wishes of a tiny handful of families over the wishes of the dozens and dozens that helped craft that policy a representation of "middle ground"?  Seems a bit like putting an elephant on one side of a teeter totter and a mouse on the other, and saying "well, looks balanced to me".

#28 -- parent (same as #27) -- added 12/4, 9:50am

And something else I don't get.  If Pete felt the way he appeared to in his comments, then why did he vote as he did?  He sounds like one of us who think ths action was completely nuts.  If he had voted the way him comments read, the motion would have failed.  I agree with your #19 post, J.R. -- why don't these people explain themselves?   It'd be a lot easier to understand. 

#29 -- citizen -- added 12/4, 9:54am

Am I right that all of the kids who violated this policy had heard Doug give the speech about how Cordova is stricter last year?  Because if that's true, then this whole "confusion" thing is total nonsense.

#30 -- citizen (same as #29) -- added 12/4, 9:56am

Oh, and I'd like to hear Gilman explain why they supposedly gave a false alibi for their son.  Did they actually lie and say he wasn't at this party?  And if that's true, why didn't he resign from the board?

#31 -- J.R. Lewis -- added 12/4, 1015am

Hey folks!  Thanks for hanging in there, and sorry (again) that it's taken me a while to get this last batch of comments up.  Been a busy week.  I'll continue to try to keep up as best I can, and thanks for your patience  :D

#32 -- parent -- added 12/9, 9:15pm

I agree with #30.  What's he still doing on the board?

#33 -- staff member letter to school board -- added 12/9, 11:17pm

I just wanted to put in a suggestion' I do agree that the students should not be removed from the team. But I do not agree that they should return to the position they once had. The position should change from player to trainer for the individual(s)' They should be responsible to help another Lam mate replace the position they have caused to be in turmoil from the choices they have made. As a trainer they are required to go to all practices and help out at home games, loosing the travel privileges, but not loosing the chance at the next sports activity and still being a part of the team. If they are low on the roster then they should become an at home manager. Also I think the board needs to set in place procedures to deal with such an issue for future incidences. you moved way to quick to dismiss a policy that took months to implement and you have not onry got parents up in arms you have done these students a great disservice, by taking away their .or,r"qrr"rr""s. you have made them privileged in the eyes of their peers for their wrong actions, you have minimized the punishment for a serious offense. If you tell a child not to touch a hot stove, they listen some wha! but when they do touch and get burned they have now learned the lesson the hard way but wont be so apt to touch it again. you have taken away the bum for these students, so they have only learned that their parents wiil step in and take the burn for them. so have they really learned anything, or have they learned something that wiir be more detriment to their future. These kids are in High school, the sports they are doing will end with high school for the majority of them. what you have shown them will go beyond high school. You have imprinted in their lives that if you are good enough than exceptions will be made no matter what rules you break. Being kicked off a team sport in high school to make them rearize there are consequences to your actions is minimal - verses the woman in Anchorage that just killed someone because her consequence were not severe enough for the first 4 previous actions, so what finally got her attentiory the death of an innocent man and his family's way of life. Having something that means a lot to a student but is not life altering is a minimal price to pay for a life lesson. Thank you for vour time.


#34 -- parent (same as #32) -- added 12/9, 11:19pm

And is anyone surpsired that this board didn't hold those kids to the consequences?  After all, they won't face their own music.  Have any of them even acted like they even know or care that they pissed off so many people?  They don't take any responsibility for themselves, so why should we expect them to make those kids take responsibility?

#35 -- J.R. Lewis -- added 12/14, 10:35pm

Well, I was worried that I'd leave with no answers again, but much to my relief, the board took me up on my questions and provided some clarity on the October decision.  I'll try to paraphrase my impressions below, but the best clarity for all will come from the audio of the meeting which I will post once I have it processed.  I encourage you to listen if you couldn't be there tonight.

Gilman (who was unable to vote then, but still spoke to the issue) -- clearly felt that having the ASAA policy and the CHS policy in the same book was too big an error to overlook in the handbook, and it needed to be dealt with.

Sherman -- sure wishes all the info that was available now had been available back then.

Ranney -- Understands the frustration, was hesitant to speak out as a new board member.

Covel -- believes in the decision, and would do it exactly the same way if the situation presented itself again.

Hoepfner (sp?) -- did not address.

I tip my hat to all those who spoke out.   It is my belief that the willingness to do so goes a long way toward dispelling the shock that has remained since the original decision was made.  I know it does for me.  And in my opinion, regardless of whether one agrees with the sentiments presented, we have to give praise to those who were willing to take a stand for their position, and not leave it up to supposition.  I have always believed that a public official must acknowledge the public's need to understand what's happening when public policy decisions are made, which is why I didn't give up on this.  The freedom of the press has been bastardized into this nonsense about the public's right to know about Michael Jackson's habits or Tom Cruise's affairs or Britney Spears' haircut.  That's utterly ridiculous.  The reason the press was given its freedom was so that there would always be an independent check on the the actions of government.  And when the government won't speak, the the press must "press".  THAT'S what the public's right to know is all about, and that's why it's a Constitutional guarantee.

I encourage those of you still interested in this issue to listen to the audio I will have posted here soon (I hope), and if you wish to use this forum to speak your mind, then please do so.  It will remain until the matter is resolved.

Again, my sincere thanks to those on the board who answered the public's call for clarity.  People will say what they like about the answers -- that's democracy.   But again, whether you agree or not, I really think you have to acknowledge that most of them DID at last say SOMETHING.   And for me, that raises the stock price.


#36 -- parent -- added 12/15, 1:19pm

Anyone who attended meetings on this issue over the last few months would know that the administration stated unequivocally that the two policies  as written were not compatible with each other.  Hard to believe some still do not understand that. Maybe they choose to remain ignorant of "Play for Keeps" ?

#37 -- parent -- added 12/15, 1:50pm

I've been following this for some time, and wonder why most people seem to be missing the larger issue.  Maybe it's one of those big elephant in the room things that no one wants to deal with, but the real problem here is in parenting.  A number of the parents of kids who got caught said at a meeting that kids will be kids, and will make bad choices.  Well, if that's the case, then why did those same parents allow their kid to participate in a party that had the highest chance of exactly that kind of mistake being made?  A teen only party way out in the woods with no adult supervision?  If you know for certain that teens will make mistakes like drinking, then why allow them in the worst possible situation for that very thing to happen?  And then to have had one of these parents come and collect their own kid while leaving the others out there with the booze?  And then to have yet another one of those parents lie and cover up for their kid and say the kis wasn't there?  And these are the parents that the school board listened to when it came time make a retroactive policy change that dishonors everyone that respects and follows the rules? 

Frankly, I think it's these parents that owe the town an explaination as much or more so than the school board, since it was the bad choices of the parents (way more than the kids) that caused all of this.
#38 -- citizen (same as #26) -- added 12/15, 2:26pm

Oh come on 36!  They were perfectly compatible if you had read the part in the ASAA book that states clearly that local districts can have stricter policies.  It's right there in back and white.  If you know anything about rules and laws, then you know that cities have laws that can trump state laws, and state laws can trump federal laws.  This happens all the time.  It's you that's choosing to remain ingonrant of the fact that this reailty is right there in print.  Maybe not in big bold neon crayon letters like some seem to need, but it's there.

And enough already on this nonsense about Donald "not explaining" the differences.  Doug explained it clearly last year, and nothing changed between last year and this year.  All the kids who violated the policy heard Doug explain it in 2008.  They were all repeat athletes.  They know nothing changed.  Truth be told, I don't even think it was the kids who cried confusion.  I bet everyone of them knew exactly what was at stake, but never thought they'd get caught.  This confusion B.S. was coughed up by the parents to cover their own embarassment, because I'll be none of them even read the stuff before signing it.  And then when they got blindsided by the amount of punishment their kid would get because of their own parental failure, then they ran for the first loophole they could find.


#39 -- citizen (same as #26) -- added 12/15, 2:28pm

By the way I just read 37 and loved it.  And I'd like to add (speaking of issues not being addressed) that I'd like to know who gave these kids the booze.  Someone's buns need to fry for that one.

#40 -- parent (same as #25) -- added 12/15, 2:33pm

Responding to 36:

Part 3 of Play for Keeps states that the ASAA consequences are a minimum and that schools may set their own additional consequences.  What do you mean by compatible? 

#41 -- Donald Kurz, Activities Director -- added 12/15, 6:18pm

A lot has been made of the confusion or conflicting policies argument. This is completely not the case. Most folks are pointing to the PLAY FOR KEEPS video or policy provided by ASAA as the culprit. The fact is we as a member school are required to abide by these minimum guidelines. ASAA gives us the right to go above and beyond the ASAA policies. At the team meeting this year, I made it abundantly clear that our sports handbook is our standard. We showed the PFK video and then I explained that the handbook is our "bible'". Each parent and child then signed the code form at the back of the book acknowledging their full understanding of the contents there in. There are several districts like us, that have decided to go above and beyond the ASAA minimums, and I stress the word minimums. This policy was voted on and passed by this same board. What has changed? That's the question that needs answering.

#42 -- parent (same as #36) -- added 12/15, 6:20pm

So the statement by an educated administration is to be ignored ?  Nice try, keep reading.

#43 -- citizen (same as #39) -- added 12/15, 7:02pm

To 42 -- no, of course you don't ignore Jim's statements.  And yes, he's educated in these issues.  But so are a lot of other people in Cordova.  Teachers, former admin people, city council members, business people, take your pick.  Jim's voice, while certainly weighty, is one voice and one opinion.  And the chorus of voices saying there is no conflict, for the very reason I mentioned before, has been much stronger, including the vast majority of the educated and dedicated people who took the time to craft the handbook policy in the first place.  Listen to Jim's voice, sure.  But his word is not law -- and it doesn't invalidate all the other voices.   To say that Jim's opinion is the only one that counts would be as nonsensical as saying we should always do what the Mayor says without question, or the Governor, or any public leader.  I seriously doubt that Jim wants to be thought of as Der Furer.

 If you had the ASAA policy and the CHS policy in the handbook, with no statement about CHS policy trumping ASAA, then this point about "conflict" is valid.  However, the ASAA policy does have a clear statement that local rules superscede ASAA rules (as stated by 40 above).  It's right there for all to read on page 16 of the CHS book (which was passed by this same school board -- did they read it before passing it?), and also on page 54 of the ASAA stand-alone book: quote "These are minimum penalties which may be increased by the member school or member school district."  What's "confusing" about that?  It's right there -- CHS can have more restrictive policies if it wants; and if there's any perceived "confusion", then CHS policy outranks.  End of story.

So with all due respect,  maybe it's you that needs to "keep reading"?

#44 -- J.R. Lewis -- added 12/20, 3:14pm

Hey everyone -- J.R. here with an update (which ended up being much longer than I anticipated, so forgive the potential verbosity).

I've had the good fortune to be able to speak to Jim Nygaard and some of our school board members since the last meeting, and am now beginning to (I think) get my head around some of the elements that led up to this issue being as challenging for the community as it's been.  As always, it's my hope that by understanding as much as we can about all sides, that it becomes increasingly possible to deal with these tough issues with a more balanced mindset.  Let me be clear: I am NOT advocating for any "side" here.  I am merely trying to throw things on the table for thought.  That said:

(1) One thing those of us in the public need to realize is that "handbook" issues are different from other "policy" issues that the school board faces.  If they are changing something in the SB policy manual, then it's one of those deals with multiple readings, public hearings and so on.  But the handbook is not "policy".  "Policy" and "handbook" are dealt with under different procedures.  The SB is well within its purview to modify the handbook without initiating an extensive public process.  Now some will argue that handbook changes should be handled the same way as any other policy issue, and those who feel that way would be well within their rights to suggest such methodology to the SB for consideration.  However, the fact the we may not have understood that the two types of policy go through different processes does not mean that the SB was in violation of their responsibilities by making the change as they did.  Whether it was clearly noted on the agenda or not is also a matter of interpretation -- but the fact is that it WAS on the agenda.  Whether one believes the notice was obvious enough or not, notice was given in accordance with required SB procedure.

(2) The issue of the alcohol policy was already on the SB radar before it was violated.  Like it or not, believe it or not, we should allow for the possibility that this October decision might very well have been made on 10/14 even without the concurrent violations.  It may very well have been a "perfect storm" situation where a direction the board was headed coincided with an incident  involving that very direction.  And as easy as it would be to say "well, they should have stopped what they were doing and waited, because to act as they did was politically incorrect", you could also say that for them to NOT act when they were planning to anyway would be just as problematic and aggrieve just as many people.  For every person that accuses them of being reactionary, there could be another person that could say that NOT acting when they were already scheduled to would be reactionary -- i.e. to stop their already moving process because of the violation would suggest a fear to pursue the course they were already on.  So again, while it obviously looks to many, because of the overall timing, like the board made a knee jerk decision as a result of the violations; it's just as valid to suggest that the board simply completed the last step of a process already underway, and the fact that the policy was violated at that same moment was a coincidence.  I know from years of observing city council that this can and does happen.  I have seen a decision get made that has been in process for months, and as fate would have it, something happens the day of the vote that makes it look like council made a snap, reactionary decision -- and people who have paid no attention to council in years come in by the drove accusing them of not being responsive to the voters and ramrodding something through behind closed doors, when I know for a fact that they have been discussing the issue for months, holding public hearings, and doing everything short of knocking on everyone's doors to give notice.  It's all I can do to not punch myself in the head when that happens.  So it may be that we have to allow for that same possibility in this SB issue.  I'm not trying to say it was one way or the other in this case; I'm simply trying to point out that there's precedent for either scenario.

(3) The school board deals with umpteen numbers of issues all the time, any of which could blow up unexpectedly.  While it would be nice if everyone had a crystal ball to know what issues will be volatile and which won't, the fact is that no one has one of those.  I also know from observing council that there are critical issues, month after month, that generate no testimony.  And then, something will come up that everyone thinks is a no brainer that ends up being the most controversial issue of the decade.  It sucks, but it happens.  So again, without speaking favorably to either side of this SB deal, it seems appropriate to consider this possibility.

(4) We would be mistaken to think that this 10/14 vote has been a cut and dried slam dunk for our school board.  I know for a fact that some of them have been reflecting on this with considerable pain in their private thoughts, wondering if it was the right thing to do, as I expect any of us would do after getting the kind of beating they've had over the last couple of months.  That's not to say that the aggrieved people have not had a point.  But I get the strong sense that any of us who think that the SB is unaware of the blowback are not giving them any benefit of the doubt.  After all (as always), there are two schools of thought: (1) If they make a hard decision, get a bunch of outcry, and choose to stand by what they did, then they get accused of not listening to the public, or (2) If they make a hard decision, get a bunch of outcry, and change what they did, then they get accused of being wishy-washy, blowing with the wind, and submitting to mob-rule.   Those of us that watch Star Trek know that as the Kobiyashi Maru -- the no-win scenario.

(5) All of us who have had good board training know that there is (and should be) debate and differing opinions on a motion prior to the vote.  But it is universally known and accepted that once the vote is made, ALL of the board members are supposed to stand behind it, regardless of how they voted.  So if any of us were expecting them to continue to fight it out after the vote, then we need to recognize that to do so would be very bad form on their part.  They are technically obligated to support the will of the majority even if they were in the minority when the vote was taken.  To do otherwise is unethical.  If a board member wanted to continue to fight the board in that manner, s/he would need to resign and return to Joe Public status.  Then they can do whatever they like.

(6) I have gained some additional insight into the resistance to answering my 3 questions that had not occurred to me.  While I meant for those questions to be objective, I think that they inadvertently got swept up and interpreted as yet another attack, or demand for confession that they did something wrong.  That was NOT the case.  All I was trying to do is take their temperature and see where they stood after the initial public outcry, with the hope that I would be able to assist them in getting their message out and educating the public on where they were at.  However, the board was getting dozens of emails-- some of them downright hateful -- ripping them up one side and down the other.  Any of us in that situation can probably imagine that eventually, EVERYTHING starts to look like an accusation, whether it's intended that way or not.  So I think some of them felt that I was gunning for them, because that's what so many other people had been doing.  And in that context, I can now understand why it took longer than I expected to get those answers.  I know in my own head that I never ask questions like that to be leading, or demand a "particular" answer.  If you look at the wording of my questions, you can see that the answer could have easily been "Yes, I stand by what we did and I would do it again", or "Actually, I think we were hasty, and I plan to be more deliberate in the future".  But if you've been through a rampage of accusations (justified or not), my questions could be interpreted as another strafing run, regardless of my intentions.

As always, I am not trying to prosecute or defend either side here.  I'm simply trying to provide as much information as possible so that people can have a maximum amount of detail as they move forward.  Everyone can have whatever opinion they like -- that's America.  But opinions in the absence of the full breadth of information can go awry -- so the more facts and perspectives we can get out there in complicated, emotional issues like this, the easier (in my opinion) it becomes to be broad thinking and community minded.

Whether this sheds any light for you or not, I hope the lines of communication will remain open, the dialogue will continue, and that we'll all be better for the experience -- whether that ends up being a greater appreciation for our elected officials, more scrutiny and pointed questions during elections, a greater desire to vote and pay attention to public processes, or whatever growth opportunity presents itself.

And speaking for myself, I hope that one of the things that comes out of all this that that pubic officials will assimilate that which I have always tried to make clear:  I don't look at my role as your local broadcaster to be one of jumping on bandwagons.  I view my job as an endeavor to provide as much information as possible on ALL perspectives.  Do I have personal opinions?  Sure!  But they do NOT interfere with how I do my job.  I can, and many times have, interviewed people with whom I strongly disagree.  But not only has the guest not known that at the time, I've actually gotten nasty calls after such interviews accusing me of SUPPORTING that guest's stance because I didn't "interrogate" them enough.  Well, I'm not an interrogator.  I like to do my best to facilitate for the person at hand, to try to understand where they are coming from, even if I don't like it.  That's how I was trained, and that's the reputation we've achieved here at KLAM and KCDV, with virtually no deviation, if any at all.  So to all of you who hold public office (or anyone for that matter), I want to state again that you will always get a fair shake when you deal with me, regardless of how I may personally feel initially about your stance -- because I don't believe I can learn anything new if I already have my mind made up about everything.  The only time you will find me turning into a "press dog" is when I get a bunch of "no comment, no comment, no comment".  That sets me off a bit because then I can't make any progress for anyone, and the public is left with nothing but speculation and rumor.  But to all those who are helpful to the process of community understanding, I promise that you will always have a friend here -- whether that's on or off the record.

#45 -- parent -- added 12/20, 7:29pm

Hi JR.  Thanks for your addition to the SB forum page.  It at least
clarifies that they did not do anything "illegal", when dealing with the
abrupt change to that policy.  Not illegal, but certainly inappropriate in
my opinion.

You have done a great job in getting the information out, and in pressing
the school board to be more forthcoming about their reasons.  You manage to
get your point, or question, across firmly without being insulting or
sarcastic.  It also helped greatly that you are not a parent that is
directly involved.

I will accept whatever policy the board adopts, knowing that I have my own
parenting techniques to impose upon my remaining high school age daughter.
I just worry about those kids who don't have strict parents.  You want to
help them all but there is only so much you can do.

(J.R. reply -- thanks.  Doing my best.  And of course you are right that it will be parents, thru their actions or lack of them, that will always be the ultimate arbiters of this type of thing.  The challenge is: to what extent, and in what manner, does society intervene on behalf of those students who do not receive the kind of parenting that prevents this kind of thing?)

#46 -- citizen (same as #43, I think) -- added 12/20, 7:30pm

Interesting -- you say that handbook and policy issues go through different processes, and that might have been confusing to the public.  Well, if it’s confusing, then shouldn’t the school board change that?  After all, it was “confusion” that set this whole thing off in the first place, and they changed the handbook.  So maybe they ought to be "consistent" by starting to make handbook changes the same way they make policy changes to eliminate “confusion”.

(J.R. here -- since this was directed to me, I’ll go ahead and respond: fair point -- if I were you, I’d pitch it to them and try to get some support.  In theory, they should be receptive)