One trustee an advocate for ousted AD

One trustee an advocate for ousted AD

In the wake of public outcry over the removal of Gilroy High
School’s athletic director of 20 years, no members of the Gilroy
Unified District School Board have said Jack Daley should be
reinstated to his original position.
In the wake of public outcry over the removal of Gilroy High School’s athletic director of 20 years, no members of the Gilroy Unified District School Board have said Jack Daley should be reinstated to his original position.

After more than 100 protesters rallied to Daley’s defense during Thursday’s school board meeting, however, one trustee who calls himself “an advocate for Jack” said “I do regret to a certain extent the actions that have been taken with Jack Daley.”

Trustee Jaime Rosso expressed hesitation over the board’s decision to remove the athletic director, an action taken last week at the conclusion of a GUSD investigation stemming from an injury DUI accident involving former GHS track and field coach Alvin Harrison.

“For me this has been a very difficult decision,” said Rosso on Friday afternoon. “I feel divided on this one.”

Out of four trustees reached by the Dispatch, Rosso was the only board member to disclose a personal stance, saying “I have very mixed feelings about it.”

GUSD trustees Fred Tovar and Francisco Dominguez also commented on the situation but would not venture into illuminating specifics, citing pending litigation and the issue as being personnel-related.

All four trustees say policy is being examined, community feedback has been heard “loud and clear” and Daley is still an employee of the district who will be allowed to volunteer “behind the scenes.”

“He hasn’t been taken out completely,” explained Tovar, adding GUSD Superintendent Debbie Flores is ironing out job details with GHS Principal Marco Sanchez. “I believe they’re still trying to find a position for him.”

Dominguez said the “board has made its decision, and that’s where it is.”

During a phone conversation Sunday, GUSD Board President Rhoda Bress recognized Daley as a “popular figure who does wonderful things for the district.”

She said he still wishes to volunteer in the sports program and will be allowed to do so.

As for the nature of Daley’s employment, this will probably be “determined by the site.”

Reflecting on Thursday’s jam-packed meeting where parents, teachers, students and community members occupied every chair, lined every wall, filled every inch of available space and spilled out the double doors in support of the former athletic director, Bress attributed public comment as “important in this particular instance.”

However, she maintained the superintendent and trustees are not responding to this with the same information base as the public.

Bress added “sometimes those decisions can be very unpopular.”

During Thursday’s meeting, trustees also came under fire for procedural ambiguity and accusations of turning Daley into a “scapegoat,” as GHS alumna Brandi Rodriguez phrased it.

Several teachers and parents highlighted possible kinks in protocol when it comes to hiring staff and transporting students to sporting events.

“Jack Daley is not responsible for the hiring of anyone,” said Michelle Nelson, president of the Gilroy Teacher’s Association who queried whose job it is to check references.

Another speaker added, “It starts from the top. We want to see some policy change so we don’t have to go through this again.”

Dominguez responded to this during a phone conversation Friday, saying “we probably aren’t clear enough in terms of what the policy is. We need to be more specific.”

Rosso said “almost immediately” adjustments were made within the district, and that expectations were tightened on the “many areas of shared responsibility where things needed to be corrected.”

Bress echoed this, saying “changes were made in order to ensure student safety.”

While the decision to remove Daley from his position was one of these changes, she clarified it was not an isolated decision as additional changes were made to “fulfill” the district’s responsibilities.

“We are a very reasonable board, a deliberative board. We don’t do things on a whim, and this is not an exception,” said Bress.

As for Rosso’s stance, Bress “can’t really comment on his own decision.”

None of the trustees would discuss whether there was any dissension between the board and superintendent on the decision to remove Daley from his position.

Various elements such as pending litigation, the issue being personnel-related and the district needing to look out for its financial liability and exposure make it “that much more difficult to have this conversation,” Rosso said.

After the accident, it was discovered Harrison did not have a valid driver’s license while driving a school-rented van on an athletic field trip in Southern California. No students were with Harrison in the rented vehicle.

A school district investigation revealed Daley rented the vehicle for Harrison to use, but Daley, speaking publicly for the first time Thursday, reiterated to the Dispatch that he had no knowledge of Harrison’s invalid license.

On Thursday evening, “reinstatement” was the buzzword of the night during public comment on the “unpopular, ill-advised move,” which garnered repeat requests for a formal apology.

As speaker after speaker approached the board, a mosaic of statements pieced together a comprehensive portrait of an athletic director described as “a man of integrity,” “the finest person I’ve ever met,” “an everyday hero,” “a model citizen,” “a parent-coach liaison” and “one of the most caring men I know.”

A sampling of voices belonged to alumni, parents, student-athletes, community members, a sports official from Hollister, California Highway Patrol interim commander Dave Hill and Darren Yafai, athletic director of Christopher High School.

“Will this drag out? Probably,” Tovar said Friday, who said it’s difficult making decisions “most people might not like.”

Bress said her “heart went out to people,” but again reminded the board has information not available to the public.

“I have to make a responsible decision based on information board was given,” she said. “And that doesn’t take anything away from all the wonderful things Mr. Daley has done for district.”

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A public meeting will be held at South Valley Community Church at 7 p.m. today to discuss the dismissal of Jack Daley. Longtime Gilroy High coach Chuck Ogle said the meeting is open to everyone.

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