After conducting an investigation, the Scottsdale Unified School District released a statement on Wednesday that said it found no evidence of alleged racial discrimination and retaliation by Arcadia boys basketball coaches Stephen Danford and Phil Loveski.
On Feb. 20, concerns were brought to SUSD officials about fair and equitable treatment in Arcadia’s basketball program.
Acting superintendent Dr. John Kriekard, Arcadia Principal Todd Stevens and General Counsel Michelle Marshall, with assistance from Assistant Superintendent Dr. Milissa Sackos, conducted an internal investigation.
“The investigation included interviews of twenty-five witnesses, some of whom were interviewed multiple times,” Amy Bolton, chief marketing and public information officer of the district, wrote in an email. “The investigation also included review of fifteen categories of documents, including approximately sixteen unsolicited statements from parents, students, and community members, received after the media reported on the investigation.
“After considering the witness accounts, including statements of students, staff, parents, the coaches, and the complaining parties, we did not find sufficient evidence to conclude that the coaches engaged in racial discrimination or retaliation, as alleged.”
Bolton wrote that to ensure the integrity of the investigation, outside counsel, Susan Segal, was asked to review the matter.
“She has concurred in the findings and recommendations,” Bolton said.
Arcadia and the Scottsdale district recognize a need for staff, students, and the community to have meaningful conversations about diversity and inclusion, Bolton wrote.
“Accordingly, Ms. Marshall and Mr. Stevens made recommendations, which include diversity and inclusion training for middle- and high school athletic staff at each of our five learning communities,” Bolton said. “We have identified training dates, and trainers who will conduct this training.”
The district also is implementing a platform that allows student to have conversations about this topic in a safe environment, facilitated by skilled and knowledgeable trainers, Bolton said.
She said the first such session will be with the district’s Student Advisory Board.
“In addition to the diversity and inclusion dialogues set forth, the district is conducting a review of its existing procedures for students to report concerns regarding discrimination, harassment, or retaliation,” Bolton said. “We have already identified an opportunity to improve in this regard by adding the District’s anti-discrimination notice to the student-athlete registration system, Register My Athlete.
“The notice advises those who believe they have observed discriminatory conduct to notify the Executive Director for Support Services.”