June 16, 2012


I wrote this post in February, but purposely did not publish it for a number of reasons. First, my posts have been followed by Alex's teachers and others in our school district. After the principal threatened legal action against me (why - I do not know) I figured it was not worth fighting him continuously for Alex's last year of high school.

Although Alex's case manager was great (I believe her hands were tied in so many ways) and a huge part of Alex's success she was instructed to copy the Principal on all emails between us. This created a black hole of correspondence where he was supposed to comment and never did.  It was the teachers and professionals at Alex's school who advocated for her success, not the administration. Sadly, Alex's case manager has left the school district and taken a job in the big city, an unfortunate event.

Secondly, I do not wish anyone harm (well maybe sometimes), and in this case the person involved is in a bucket load of trouble. From my perspective this is a waste for a person who is inherently talented and has so much to give to her community. Here is the post:


February 2012

Over a year ago I wrote a post about Alex’s struggles being included on the basketball team. It was the last in series of posts about Alex’s struggles on the JV basketball team.

By way of background, Alex love sports, she loves to participate on JV teams and it provides social as well as peer building opportunities. We are not a school district of super athletes, (unless it is skiing or snowboarding) and although many of our teams are quite accomplished the overall philosophy of JV teams is skill and team work building. This is in our athletic handbook.

Alex played on the JV basketball team as a freshman, this experience was quite successful and our high school gained recognition within the school and community as a school that support athletes who participate differently. This philosophy changed Alex’s sophomore year with the hiring of a new coach, and despite our many conversations we were never able to get the coach, school or district to understand our point of view. Alex did not play basketball this year, she did not feel welcome or included.

Here is a brief quote from my “last straw” email, dated January 15, 2011. Alex broke her foot at basketball practice shortly after this, which to me, was her solution to feeling excluded and has not played basketball since.

Last night the team played RF, a team whose coach had coached her girls to let Alex shoot when she has the ball. Alex's teammates are not coached to pass the ball to Alex, let alone work with her on the basketball court. It's hard when her play time is less than 30 seconds

We missed a great opportunity last night to not only make Alex and our school proud, but also to let our opponents feel good about what they had done. We missed the lesson of what playing on a team is about, and celebrating each other’s achievements. To me that is what our school is all about, creating citizens who will go out to the world as contributing inclusive members of our community, not ones whose only lesson in high school sports was to win at any cost.

At the time I asked the director of athletics, the school principal and the asst. superintendent of the school district to look at this as an opportunity.  I had hoped they would be able to recognize this was a great chance to work with the coach and coach her to work with all the students. I asked that support for Alex to participate in sports be written in her IEP (it was, but as of yet they are in noncompliance with this request). I had hoped everyone could grow from this experience and make our schools better places.

This did not happen, to the best of my knowledge our coach was allowed to continue to act independently and work without the boundaries that would benefit the students. I believe a coach who is rewarded for bad behavior will never learn boundaries and responsibility, a coach should never be given the power to defy the director of athletics and the school principal, and the director of athletics and the school principal should never cede this power.

I want to make is perfectly clear, these are my opinions, I do not know the whole story, nor do I know much at all. I only know the feeling I got from Alex and the example I saw set on the basketball team.  And of course I insert my own sense of social justice and think I can influence others, but it is all baby steps. I know I inadvertently become a preacher not a partner. 

But I do know that due to the freedom to act without boundaries our basketball coach is now charged with a class 3 felony offense and has been fired. Additionally, the principal will be resigning at the end of the year and the director of athletics has asked to step down, the comment from the district is "these events are not related", no one believes that for a second.  Of course she should have known better, and I think she did, but then again she was invincible already, why change?

This is a very very unfortunate incident and will become the defining moment in the life of an otherwise talented basketball coach who should have made a difference.  Perhaps we have learned a lesson, only time will tell. I wish Lauren all the best and a promising future where she learns how to embrace her gifts to make a difference in the lives of others.


And today, the following was in our local newspapers, and I am sure will hit the nationals papers, as happened in February:


Once again, I wish Lauren the best. We are molded by our environment and although responsible for our own actions, our community is also responsible for coaching, mentoring and working with our actions.

Unacceptable behavior should not be tolerated by anyone. Our communities have a great opportunity to embrace and supports people of ALL abilities. I guess we all have some work to do!


  1. Oh my. Gotta trust your instincts and it sure seemed like there was some hijinks going on in that school. Sad really, especially for Alex who it impacted.
    Is there any genetic testing for predators or poor judgement? hmmmm.....

  2. Love that genetic testing thing....hmmm imagine a world without down syndrome, predators or people who exercise poor judgement....would anyone be left to play God?

  3. Wow, what a shame. I hope everyone can learn something from this, and hope that inclusion in sports will have a new heyday, even after Alex has left school.


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