The Roseburg Public Schools board of education will not intercede with the decision not to retain Roseburg High School varsity girls coach Danielle Haskett, said board chairman Charles Lee on Saturday.
Lee said in a statement issued Saturday that he will not place the employment status of Haskett on Wednesday’s school board agenda. People are welcome to comment during the regular public participation portion of the agenda, as long as comments are kept within allotted time limits and are not critical in nature, he said.
“It does not make sense for us to second guess a judgment call the superintendent makes regarding athletics,” Lee wrote. “Holding a board meeting on the question of reinstating or renewing Coach Haskett, overriding the judgment of the superintendent, would be an example of such second guessing.”
Saturday’s statement comes as the full report from an independent investigation into the handling of the conflict involving Haskett and six former players has not been shared with the school board or school administrators.
Roseburg Public Schools Director of Human Resources Robert Freeman wrote in a Jan. 19 email to attorney Leta Gorman, who is representing six student-athletes who resigned from the team, that the school district does not have any documents or reports from Tim Keeley in its file. Gorman filed a request for the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office to intercede on Feb. 5. Gorman requested that all records be made public, including the report prepared by Keeley, a former school administrator and Oregon professor of school law; all correspondence Keeley had with the team, coaches, volunteers, members and parents; all documents and photos used by Keeley; and all documents and photos gathered by Keeley during the investigation.
“It is an outrage that elected officials of the district are not provided with key information and evidence to help them make a decision,” Gorman wrote in her appeal to District Attorney Rick Wesenberg.
Roseburg Public Schools Superintendent Gerry Washburn said a decision on the request had been expected by Friday, but no ruling has been issued. Because of President’s Day on Monday, an answer would not come sooner than Tuesday at the earliest — one day before the Roseburg public school board meets.
Six volleyball players resigned from the team in September 2017, and soon after filed formal complaints against varsity head coach Danielle Haskett and assistant coach Kari Morrow alleging bullying and harassment by the coaches, allegations denied by Haskett. Morrow has not commented on the complaints.
The News-Review made additional public records request on Feb. 9 to Roseburg Public Schools into the formal complaints filed against both coaches; a report on the internal investigation; correspondence between superintendent Gerry Washburn and school board; correspondence between the superintendent and RHS administrators; and correspondence between the school district and the student-athletes who resigned and/or their parents.
A summary report of Keeley’s investigation was shared with the board chair and Washburn during a meeting on Nov. 29, 2017, and was discussed again during an executive session of the Dec. 13, 2017, board meeting. This report was made public on Jan. 9.
Gorman wrote in her letter to Wesenburg, “The investigation has been the subject of widespread public debate and comment. A matter of action is commonly understood to be ‘in the public interest’ when it affects the community or society as a whole, in contrast to a concern or interest of a private individual or entity.
“Parents of students in the district have a substantial interest in knowing exactly what happened and why,” Gorman wrote. “They have the right to know the type of coaching, guidance and supervision that is being provided to their children. (...) Parents have a right to know what teachers, coaches, volunteers, parents and staff were involved in the events, what they knew and when, and if they failed to comply with district policies and Oregon law pertaining to, at a minimum, reporting of harassment, retaliation and child abuse.”
Roseburg Public Schools released a statement on Jan. 25 that the superintendent made a recommendation to the school board that Haskett not be offered a contract as the volleyball coach for the 2018-19 school year, because new leadership is needed for the program.
Haskett told The News-Review at the time, “After four months of false accusations, two formal investigations, one within the district and one conducted by an independent investigator, I and my assistant coach were absolved of the original complaint, twice.”
The independent investigation focused on policy and procedural changes, but Keeley did note that “We understand how and why, during this volleyball program concern, students believed that they were not to communicate volleyball conflicts to their parents.”
The district does not currently have a policy describing the expectations of coaches.
Keeley recommended the district not restrict the ability of minor students to share all information with their parents, but that parents should not necessarily inject their thoughts on all matters with the coaches and athletic director.”
School administrators have not confirmed that Haskett and Morrow were absolved of wrongdoing and a report on the internal investigation was never made public.
“Many of the letters seem to assume that the decision to change the leadership in the volleyball program meant that there had been a finding of misconduct on the part of Coach Haskett. That assumption is wrong,” School Board Chair Charles Lee wrote in a statement. “The superintendent’s decision about staffing in an athletic program is not a decision that one side if right or another side is wrong, but it is a decision within his authority to determine how best the athletic program fits in with the mission of the school.”
School board’s role
School board chairman Charles Lee said he would not surprised to receive comments in public participation in support of Haskett as the board members have received numerous letters and other communications regarding the volleyball program prior to the meeting.
However, he points out that there are a few situations in which the school board can make personnel decisions, but this is not one of those decisions. The school board’s role is a policy-making body that direct the school district, develop a budget and hire a superintendent, he said.
A superintendent is selected based on experience, skills and judgment that best fit the need of the school district. Washburn acts as the board’s executive officer in administering policies for operation of schools and is available to the board as a consultant and adviser.
In addition to experience in school administration, Washburn has experience in girls’ athletics in public schools. He coached basketball for 10 years and was named 2010’s New Mexico’s 4A girls basketball coach of the year.
According to school policy, hazing, harassment, intimidation, menacing, bullying or cyberbullying by staff, students or third parties is strictly prohibited and staff in violation of the policy will be subject to discipline, up to and including dismissal. School policy also states that filing a false charges is also regarded as a serious offense and will result in disciplinary action.
Neither Haskett, Morrow, nor the six student-athletes were disciplined for their actions. Haskett and Morrow continued coaching through the entire season and continue to have the support of the superintendent and athletic director.