Roseburg Public Schools reached a settlement with the parents of six current and former Roseburg High School student-athletes in early November.
The parents filed a tort claim in February 2018 alleging former volleyball head coach Danielle Haskett and assistant coach Kari Morrow had bullied their children.
Details of the compromise were not released by Pace, the district’s insurance liability carrier. A statement released by the school district last Tuesday said the district maintains it “committed no offense and denies any wrongdoing.”
The claimants originally informed Roseburg Public Schools of the intent to file a tort claim in Fall 2017. Earlier mediations were unsuccessful and the matter was expected to head to court.
“In an attempt to further reduce the insurance carrier’s legal costs associated with litigation and without the district’s knowledge, the insurance carrier and the complainants engaged in further negotiations and reached a compromise,” the district’s statement read. “The compromise brought the matter between the insurance carrier and the complainants to an end.”
The district received a copy of the compromise agreement on Nov. 19.
Leta Gorman, the attorney for the six student-athletes who left the team, did not respond to inquiries by The News-Review.
When the complaints were first brought to the school board, the board members requested an independent investigation into the board’s policies and procedures.
This investigation was completed by former school administrator and University of Oregon professor of school law Tim Keeley.
In the report, Keeley made six recommendations to the school board:
- A proposed adjustment to the hazing, harassment, intimidation, bullying and menacing complaint procedures for staff members, which would allow the district to appoint an independent investigator when there is a reasonable perception by the complaining party of a conflict of interest.
- Administrators should contact guardians of affected students within 24 hours when major conflicts occur in school district programs.
- A recommendation for delayed involvement by the superintendent.
- When the district anticipates the community might perceive a bias, an outside investigator should be considered.
- Consider a progression of communication when problems in athletics arise.
- Be careful to communicate to guardians and athletes the tenets of the Bruce Brown Proactive Coaching philosophy.
Interim superintendent Lee Paterson said the district postponed an official policy revision after assurances from its legal counsel that the current policy is sufficient. Paterson stated those policies could be reevaluated now that litigation has ended.
Roseburg Public Schools’ statement read, “The district is anxious to work with the board of directors to improve processes for addressing complaints clearly, responsibly and without delay.
“Further, the district will be evaluating policy which governs athletics and athletic participation to ensure that it reflects the district’s intention to provide athletic opportunities that offer the healthiest and most positive experience we can provide for our student athletes.”
All references to the Bruce Brown philosophy of coaching, which stipulated that problems within the team are not discussed with outside sources, have been removed from the Roseburg High School website.
At the beginning of the school year, the RHS athletic department rolled out a core values initiative, which promoted the message of “it takes us all to make the one” across all sports programs.
“In conducting my exit interviews with our fall athletes all of them had great things to say about their coaches spending time talking about loyalty, integrity and relentless effort,” RHS athletic director Russ Bolin wrote in a statement. “So, core values are nothing new to our programs. What is new is that we have all programs delivering a consistent message.”