Prompted by findings of harassment by the former assistant volleyball coach
In the first School Committee meeting since the district alerted families about the inappropriate behavior of the assistant volleyball coach and failures of the head coach, district officials announced new policies and procedures to prevent such incidents from happening again.
After the meeting, the district released this announcement:
At a meeting tonight of the East Greenwich School Committee, district officials announced a series of action steps they are taking to ensure greater protections for student-athletes – and all students – during and after the school day.
The School Committee reviewed a draft of a new “Professional Conduct with Students” policy, which outlines more stringent rules for teachers, coaches, and other staff related to interaction with students in and out of school, including behavior both in-person and online. The draft policy supplements existing district policies related to harassment, bullying, and social media, among others. The School Committee is seeking feedback on the draft policy from students and staff and is scheduled to vote on it at its May 17 meeting.
Earlier this month, Superintendent Alexis Meyer and School Committee Chair Anne Musella sent a letter to families and staff stating that the head coach and assistant coach of the varsity volleyball program had been prohibited from interacting with students and banned from future employment with the East Greenwich Public Schools after an investigation into allegations of harassment of students, in violation of the district’s Title IX policy. The letter also stated that the district would take a series of actions in the months ahead to strengthen policies and procedures related to interactions between staff and students, particularly in interscholastic sports.
At the School Committee meeting, Chairperson Musella said, “This has been a painful chapter for our community, and we are deeply troubled that any of our student-athletes were subjected to such inappropriate behavior by adults. We are extremely grateful that immediately upon receiving the complaints, the Superintendent and her team acted decisively, investigated thoroughly, and kept an unwavering focus on the safety and interests of the students and families most affected.”
Superintendent Meyer added, “I am hopeful that we can begin to move forward as a community, particularly by providing students with the support they need to thrive in school and on the athletic fields. We also recognize that we have an obligation to learn from these incidents, particularly to ensure that our policies are explicit about appropriate interactions between employees and students and that all of our students, families, and staff are aware of their rights and responsibilities.”
At the meeting, Superintendent Meyer and Casie Rhodes, Athletic Director for the East Greenwich Public Schools, also provided an update on additional actions the district is taking, including:
- Mandatory training every season for all coaches led by the district, in addition to training mandated through the Rhode Island Interscholastic League (RIIL), on key policies and procedures related to interaction with student-athletes, as well as training related to substance abuse;
- Mandatory meetings every season with all student-athletes, to inform participants about their rights and to outline procedures for reporting harassment or any other unwelcome behavior;
- Updating the Athletics Handbook and mandating signoff every season from all coaches, athletes, and parents of athletes, acknowledging all policies and procedures and committing to safe, appropriate interactions; and
- Adopting a new mobile app for use among all interscholastic coaches and athletes, to limit communication only to team matters, with less reliance on email, phone calls, texting, social media, or other means.
Superintendent Meyer said coaches participated in additional training at pre-season meetings, including expectations for communicating with students and a review of social media policy. She said the district is in the process of developing a more robust training program to put in place this summer, prior to the fall sports season. Superintendent Meyer also noted that the district is exploring options for a new incident reporting system, similar to those adopted in other school districts, to simplify the process for students to report any experiences of bullying, harassment, discrimination, or other inappropriate behavior.
District leaders reported the allegations, findings, and outcomes of the Title IX investigation to the East Greenwich Police Department (EGPD), Rhode Island Department of Education, Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families, RIIL, and Volleyball USA. Since then, the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office has stated they are looking into the matter, in collaboration with the State Police and EGPD.
Musella Looks to State for Greater Coach Oversight
Police Say Case Is Open Regarding Volleyball Coach
Coaches Banned After Findings of Harassment
Not and until the East Greenwich School Committee releases the full report done by lawyer Lombardo can or should anyone possibly evaluate this proposal. Names can be redacted to protect the children involved. How can a parent, citizen and community give input on facts they don’t have? If you want the problem solved it can’t be done or should anyone trust those involved without this information. Just “trust us” doesn’t work anymore…just look at NK fiasco. Where is the transparency that these elected officials claim to possess and why the secrecy?
Was thinking the same thing, how do you prevent this from happening again with limited information of what has transpired. Who knew this was going on for 4 years as reported? …..and yes the names should be redacted to protect these children.
Marge, did you listen to the school committee discuss this Tuesday night? I did. Ms. Lombardo clearly spelled out what info the community may be provided with and why some info is protected. It appears that you have zero interest in the well-being of these girls. Why do you need to know ALL the details?
As a parent of a daughter who was involved in this, I would love to know what other information you need to satisfy you?
I can tell you my daughter has read some of the responses on here and is disappointed in the adults asking for specifics.
FYI, here is a link to the Zoom recording of Tuesday’s meeting. The discussion about the investigation and action items was at the beginning. You will probably need to download the file to your computer but that only takes a couple of minutes. https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/17_C28hxCs6jjJdLzA2fVL1qmInkQqzd0
Here we are once again…and I’ll say it louder for the people in back. Information to which the public thinks they are entitled is not as simple as just “redacting names”. In a small community like East Greenwich, the littlest details in this investigation could make the identity of the victims known. The number one priority of the school administration was, and still is, protecting the girls and their families believe that wholeheartedly. The information published here and in other news outlets is enough for parents and students to comment on the new policies.
Wow Erin that was a robust response. If I am not mistaken the full report was disclosed in NK protecting all the kids involved, so why is East Greenwich any different? The NK community demanded to know the facts to get down to the crux of the issues in their school system so it doesn’t happen to our, yours and my children. Because I want to know the facts so I can believe our elected officials and school administrators are thoroughly addressing the issues is not unreasonable. Aren’t they asking for input, how can any reasonable citizen or parent feel comfortable with what is proposed without ALL the information? It’s called informed citizenship and any parent or citizen should be informed. This is too important!
EGMike, you have the facts (published here and in other news outlets) as they were laid out in the 8 pages provided by Superintendent Meyer. There was nothing “swept under the rug” or “hidden from the public.” Simply redacting names does not ensure the privacy of those involved. And as a parent of one the girls involved, I can guarantee that if it were your daughter, you would fight with every fiber of your being to prevent her from being further victimized.
The definition of an informed citizen is having sufficient and sufficiently reliable information or knowledge to be able to understand a subject or situation and make appropriate judgments or decisions regarding it. You can request the 8-page report, deemed sufficient by legal counsel, from Superintendent Meyer by emailing her (her address is on the school district’s website).
Erin, with all due respect how do you know “nothing was swept under the rug” or “hidden from the public”? Did you read and have access to the whole report? How do you know we have all the facts and information? No one wants your or any other child victimized. It is at the RI State Police and Attorney Generals office, if these creeps are prosecuted like they should you don’t think the information will become public? You mistake wanting information to protect your child, my children and all children in our community from predators at our schools. I want ALL children protected, who doesn’t! The full report was produced in NK and victims were protected. NK parents demanded the facts! I don’t trust anyone anymore especially lawyers, School Committee members and administrators. They have been known to hide and obscure information, just look around at other nearby communities, to protect themselves and administrators from lawsuits. Wanting to know if any other teachers, administrators, coaches or whoever knew what was going on for 4 years is not an unreasonable request. It’s what being responsible parents would do. You can yell from the back row all you want but there are many, many parents and community members who want this information, want answers and feel the same way as my wife and I do. Just blindly trusting the “Administration” to remedy the situation without information doesn’t cut it. I believe you and I want the same thing, to protect all of the children in our community, this is way too important a subject.
I know because my daughter was involved and I can assure you that the Administration is not “hiding” anything here.
Erin, I’m sorry but your assurances and the School Committee and administrations assurances are not enough at this point. Parents need all the information that affects their children and their education so they can be reassured that they are in a safe environment and those in control are held to that standard.
Just a reminder to everyone that comments should be polite. You can find our Comments Policy here: https://eastgreenwichnews.com/eg-news-comments-policy/
The substantial resistance for information/facts on the full report raises too many red flags and suspicions. If there is nothing to hide produce the report with redactions to protect the children!