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School board reviews report in closed session
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The North Crawford School Board spent most of their last special meeting on Monday, Aug. 4 in a closed session with attorney Eileen Brownlee and investigator Malina Piontek, who is also a lawyer.

The purpose of the closed session was to review Piontek’s investigation of a complaint of bullying and harassment filed by attorney Matthew Giesfeldt on behalf of Ritchie and Vicki Stevenson and their daughters. Those allegations stem from an incident involving players on the school’s volleyball team of which the Stevenson’s daughters were members.

The incident initially involved a Twitter post last fall by a team member or members that may have included a comment that could be considered inappropriate or derogatory toward the team’s first-year coach Anna Davidson. Following the incident, the coach talked with team members and decided no disciplinary action was necessary.

However, the incident resurfaced later at a meeting of conference volleyball coaches and those coaches decided unanimously to remove all of the North Crawford players from consideration for all conference honors based on their understanding of the Twitter post, according to reports of that meeting.

As a result of the conference coaches’ action, Ritchie Stevenson asked the North Crawford School District to conduct an investigation into the matter. Unsatisfied with the district’s efforts, Stevenson later filed the formal bullying and harassment complaint.

The board members present for the nearly two hours of closed session meeting with attorneys Piontek and Brownlee were Wade Dull, Mary Kuhn, Terry O’Donnell, Judy Powell and Tina Volden.

The investigation of the harassment complaint is separate from another investigation being conducted for the school district by attorney Lori Lubinsky in a $450,000 defamation of character suit against the district. The civil case is being brought by the Stevensons and Jodi and Tom Swiggum as part of the same incident involving their daughters’ exclusion from consideration for the all-conference volleyball team. The parents have until September 27 to decide on whether to move forward with the suit or let it lapse.

The suit contends the players were wrongfully excluded from consideration for the all conference volleyball team by other conference coaches. It further alleges that inaccurate information was given to the conference coaches by school officials.

Following the closed session meeting last week, the school board reconvened in open session, but took no action on the matters discussed in the closed session. Instead, the board approved hiring Eric Matz as the new middle/high school social studies teacher. The board tabled action on the school nurse position.