An attorney representing Ritch and Vickie Stevenson presented a formal bullying and harassment complaint to the North Crawford School Board during their meeting on Thursday, Feb.27.
Madison-based attorney Matthew Giesfeldt presented the complaint in response to incidents, which allegedly occurred during last fall’s volleyball season. Two of the Stevenson’s daughters played on the North Crawford varsity volleyball team.
An alleged incident involving a social media postings by a team member or members about the team’s first year coach would seem to be at the heart of the controversy. School officials have maintained that the incident was investigated and addressed by the school district’s athletic director and the volleyball coach and that no disciplinary action was deemed appropriate. Furthermore, the school district maintained there was no violation of the athletic code.
For its part, the team went on to have an extremely successful season winning the conference championship and going to the state tournament. However, when conference coaches met to name the all-conference team they voted to specifically exclude North Crawford players from consideration based on their understanding of the social media incident that occurred earlier in the season.
Ritch and Vickie Stevenson, and at times other parents, have urged the North Crawford School District to undertake an investigation to ascertain the facts of the situation surrounding the social media postings. The investigation should focus on finding out who was or was not involved in the incident and what was actually posted or tweeted to a Twitter account.
The school district has attempted to collect information from the coaches of the other schools about the decision to exclude the North Crawford players from all-conference consideration with limited success.
“We are filing this complaint because we seek to address any person found to have violated the district’s bullying policy, as outlined in the details of this letter,” Giesfeldt stated as he presented the complaint at the board meeting last Thursday. Reporters for the Independent-Scout were not present when the complaint was presented because the public comment portion of the meeting. Public comments were taken following a closed session of the board, although the agenda indicated they were to be taken before the closed session and the Independent-Scout reporter had left the meeting.
Attorney Matthew Giesfeldt provided the Independent-Scout with a copy of his prepared comments that he stated were made at the time the formal complaint was filed.
The attorney stated in those comments that “the Stevenson girls have been subjected to treatment that will leave a mark in this community forever, because the school district has not acted, despite Ritch and Vickie’s requests, which has allowed the speculation to circulate without turning the speculation into fact via an investigationsomething that the district can do to protect its students.”
Giesfeldt also criticized the district for not having a structured formal complaint procedure for its bullying policy similar to procedures for complaints of discrimination, sexual harassment, employee discrimination and staff complaints.
“Upon request, neither any employee nor the district(’s) attorney could provide the appropriate procedure,” Giesfeldt stated in his comments. “No one helped Ritch and Vickie through this process to figure out how to file the complaint.”
The attorney concluded that “the school’s inaction toward the situation had caused a conviction in the court of public opinion, so it is long past due for the district to sue the processes available to it to figure out what happened.”
After the meeting, North Crawford School District Administrator Dr. Dan Davies acknowledged receiving the bullying and harassment complaint from the attorney. Davies explained the complaint will be reviewed. Future steps will be determined after the complaint is reviewed, according to Davies.