Supporters of Gilroy High School’s ousted athletic director Jack
Daley were back in full force Thursday evening for a peaceful
protest at Gilroy Unified School District, and this time they had
Supporters of Gilroy High School’s ousted athletic director Jack Daley were back in full force Thursday evening for a peaceful protest at Gilroy Unified School District, and this time they had T-shirts.
Where as the buzzword during the May 19 meeting at GUSD headquarters on 7810 Arroyo Circle was “reinstatement,” this time the frequently dropped term was “reconsider.”
Daley was not present, but his wife and daughter were part of the crowd.
“It’s been difficult for our family. My dad is a really strong man. He’s set a good example and handled it really well,” said Cassidy Daley, a 17-year-old GHS senior.
Like a number of other students, parents and GUSD staff that attended the rally, she was sporting a black T-shirt with a portrait of her father that read “Bring Jack Back.”
Glancing around the lobby full of speakers who addressed the school board during public comment, Cassidy added, “it’s powerful seeing all of these people supporting dad.”
Opinion has continued to outpour in the wake of the board’s recent decision to remove the athletic director of 20 years. The move came at the conclusion of a GUSD investigation stemming from an injury DUI accident involving former GHS track and field coach Alvin Harrison, an incident that cost Daley his athletic director position and will prevent him from coaching in the future.
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, according to the California Highway Patrol. No students were with Harrison in the rented vehicle.
A school district investigation revealed Daley rented the vehicle for Harrison to use, but Daley reiterated to the Dispatch that he had no knowledge of Harrison’s invalid license.
“I actually share an office with Jack Daley, and the last five years I’ve worked side by side with him, and day in day out he’s just an incredible man,” said Julie Berggren, director of Student Activities at GHS. “Obviously some thing needs to be changed, but to fire one man for the actions of another man – that’s a really difficult for all these people to accept.”
Knowing “someone else dropped the ball” when it came to Harrison’s invalid license has added to the frustration, she said.
Thursday’s turnout had a number of repeat attendees from the May 19 meeting, plus some new faces. A group of leather-clad bikers from Christ Rescues Our Sinful Souls, a motorcycle ministries club dubbed C.R.O.S.S, joined protesters circling the lawn and street in front of GUSD offices. Passing cars honked as participants chanted slogans in unison, waving colorful signs declaring “Team Daley.” When the open session meeting commenced at 7 p.m., the board room was so packed audience members were herded into two overflow rooms across the hallway.
“Jack Daley has been a blessing in our lives and in our ministry’s life,” said C.R.O.S.S member Lupe Gomez, who says he is the uncle of GUSD trustee Fred Tovar. “I see all the good he does in the community and with the kids … it’s unfair to him. He’s a man of dignity.”
Some advocates including Eric Smith, pastor of South Valley Community Church in Gilroy, delivered eloquent statements to the board.
“You’re actions may have overly focused on fixing the blame, rather than fixing the problem,” said Smith, adding “many have come to feel that the actions taken against Jack Daley have become a substitute for fixing a flawed and defected policy that obviously needs to be revisited and revised.”
Others, such as GHS teacher Jim Hemeon, used analogies to get his point across. Recalling a GHS softball game in Hollister, he highlighted a play where a close call was made, then corrected after umpires gathered and talked it over.
“Make no mistake, you are the umpires of the GUSD. We trust you to make the right decisions,” he said. I hope you can do that – meet as an umpire crew, meet on the field and discuss the play, and please – make the right call. Mr. Daley deserves to be reinstated.”
Speaker Steve Brinkman was slightly more terse and forthright, telling the board “your posture is reminiscent of a herd of musk ox in the Arctic, encircled for defensive purposes … you have a chance to right your wrong. It is not too late. If you don’t, this community will not forget.”
Prior to public comment, GUSD Board President Rhoda Bress took a minute to lay “rumors to rest,” including speculation that the district reassigned Daley based on legal advice. Board members determined direction after a great deal of thought and discussion, she said.
Bress also refuted accusations that Daley has been used as the district’s “scapegoat,” telling the audience “there have been consequences for other employees as well, which cannot be divulged.”
The address given by Bress was the extent of GUSD commentary on the Daley situation, however, as the board does not reply to public comment during open meetings.
No one but Mr. Harrison is to blame for his actions, Bress pointed out.
“We’re really supportive of each other. We’re helping each other through this situation,” said Cassidy Daley before departing.
Her father loves his job, she noted, “but his identity isn’t in his job.”