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Letter to the editor

Learn from West Valley incident

To the editor: That the West Valley football players want their assistant coaches back shows how important coaches can be as mentors and role models. For that reason, it is important that coaches, and all other adults hired by the school district, have good judgment and put the students’ safety and healthy development as the priority for all educational and training activities.

There was one head coach and six assistant coaches, who had responsibility for the student athletes, present at the recent training. Despite this, five students who said they did not know how to swim ended up in the pool. The students would just like everything to get back to normal, but this was a serious situation and must be dealt with as such.

The school district mission is “to provide an excellent, equitable education in a safe, supportive environment so all students will succeed and contribute to a diverse and changing society.”

To this end, we have anti-bullying programs for students, and we expect students to notify adults of a threat, a weapon, drugs or other unsafe situations. We hope that they will show good judgment and not succumb to peer pressure. When they don’t, students face consequences: so should adults.

We should expect all adults involved in our schools and activities to have the skills and confidence to speak up when they think something is wrong or dangerous, possibly changing the course of events. Both parents and the district should help students gain these skills, as well, to help and protect them as they move on to college campuses, the military and other jobs.

I was struck by how few parents and students attended the school board meeting on this incident, and only four spoke. Perhaps they don’t want to impact their students’ sports experience. I know no one who was involved in this pool situation, but I want to make sure that there is a full investigation, consequences to those responsible and steps taken to ensure safety and positive coaching in all sports.

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