We aren’t involved in this case, regarding the firing of Warren De La Salle football coach Mike Giannone, but it typifies a conversation happening across schools and communities. We hear about these conversations from clients who are bullied and from coaches and teachers who are investigated or fired.
The question is what is the role of schools, coaches and teachers in policing conduct of students? The answer is changing as Americans expect schools to provide a safe environment for kids. Many of us remember the terror of physical assault and the threat of physical assault being a routine part of growing up. Others remember how “teasing” could easily cross into what we would describe today as sexual assault. Others experienced vicious racial or disability-based harassment but it was called “being mean” back in the day.
We recognize today that trauma doesn’t help kids grow up. It interferes with their ability to have trusting positive relationships as they grow up. Our firm is on the cutting edge of this conversation as we advise and fight for kids but also happy nature that teachers, coaches, and administrators receive due process.
The conversation is a healthy one. We don’t want to arm kids with the ability to make false accusations without due process for the accused. But we need to ensure that schools are places of learning and social growth. And there is a huge difference between learning how to go to school with those with whom you “don’t get along” and being a target of assault or vicious ridicule.
I admire winning coaches. But I also admire gutsy administrators who ensure their schools are safe places and take on tough battles with powerful supporters.