Office of Deputy Superintendent
255 Capitol St NE
Salem, Oregon 97310
Dear Deputy Superintendent:
We are concerned citizens who are requesting the results of the investigation by the Salem Keizer School District regarding the incident in which Osvaldo Avila, after a JV football game, put his hands on a referee in anger and threatened to report him to the Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA), using his position as a school board director as leverage. We realize OSAA banned him from games until next September. However, he has remained a school board director. We find this unacceptable.
The physical altercation occurred November, 2022, and we have yet to receive a notice of conclusion or consequences by the Salem Keizer School Board, Oregon Department of Education, or the Oregon State Board of Education. We would respectfully like to know where you are at in the process of this investigation?
There are two issues in play here.
1. Shades of influence peddling or harassment is a serious offense! While not technically illegal in this case because there does not appear to be fiduciary interest, the highest standards of trustworthiness and integrity are expected of every school board member, which include not using your position for personal gain.
2. Behaving like a big bully at a JV game. Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance, (Found on the SKPS website at: https://www.stopbullying.gov/bullying/what-is-bullying). As a current director and former Salem Keizer School Board Chair, and an employee of the Oregon Department of Education, Director Avila has the responsibility to be a good example of the type of behavior that is expected of all students and employees.
Schools have the responsibility to maintain a safe learning environment for all students. No one is above the law! Bullying fosters a climate of fear and disrespect that is contrary to the interests of everyone.
Not only has Director Avila embarrassed the community and school district and displayed a bad example of public behavior to every student in the 2nd largest school district in the state, his behavior has enormous other costs, potential and real, to our community.
COST TO DISTRICT: Harassing behavior that can lead to criminal charges generally refers to acts that cause the targeted victim to fear for their safety or suffer severe distress, according to online legal sources,(https://www.criminaldefenselawyer.com/crime-penalties/federal/Harassment.htm).
Bullying/harassment can financially devastate a district. A misdemeanor conviction for harassment can carry the potential of jail time (often up to a year) and fines. A felony conviction can mean up to 5-10 years of prison time. Verdicts of $4 million - $5.25 million have been awarded in these types of cases.
COST TO STUDENTS Oregon has lost nearly a thousand high school sports officials in the last few years — a drop of almost 30 percent, according to an article by Allison Frost (OPB), Sept 4, 2022, because of behavior like Mr. Avila's, which comes back to bite the kids in the back when they can't find an umpire to referee their games!
RADIO -Dave Miller: From the Gert Boyle Studio at OPB, this is Think Out Loud. I’m Dave Miller. Between 2018 and 2021 Oregon lost nearly 1000 high school sports officials. It was a drop of almost 30%. Refs and umps for younger athletes, like for Little League games, have also declined. This was happening before the pandemic, due to many factors, including terrible behavior on the part of some parents and fans, but it’s gotten even worse in the last few years.
It’s led some games to be canceled, and it means that some high school football games, famously shorthanded as Friday Night Lights, will have to be played on Thursdays or on Saturdays.
So why exactly are referees and umpires calling it quits and what would it take to reverse this trend? Jack Folliard is the executive director of the Oregon Athletic Officials Association. Camron Rust is the head of the Portland Basketball Officials Association. They both join me now, welcome to TOL...."
RUST "...when it becomes threatening language, or very harassing or angry language towards both the officials and perhaps the opposing team, it’s really crossed the line, and nobody should feel unsafe out there or feel attacked, whether it’s the other team’s players or the officials or anybody in the facility. It’s just not appropriate for the game to rise to that level of intensity." https://www.opb.org/article/2022/09/04/referee-shortages-in-oregon-impacting-high-school-sports/
On top of that, Director Avila has just not been a nice person. He refused to meet with parents when he was Chair if he didn't like what they had to say. He continually allowed rude and nasty comments from a far-left youth organization that had supported his campaign, as a flagrant display of favoritism. He posted online fallacious comments criticizing parents who questioned the District making children wear masks, even though the District had welcomed public comment on the subject. https://salkeiz.k12.or.us/news/board-chair-statement-aug-2021/
It appears that Director Avila has a lot to say about other people's behavior yet can't even control his own.
Therefore, it is our opinion that it is in the best interest of the Salem Keizer School District to hold Director Avila accountable for his unacceptable behavior as a role model for children.
WE STRONGLY RECOMMEND that Director Osvaldo Avila:
1. Take an anger management class,
2. That he issue and post a public apology to the Salem Keizer School community
3. That he take 6 months off from the school board duties, effective immediately.
4. Post the good sportsmanship and no-tolerance district policy toward officials.
SK We Stand Together
cc: Department of Education
cc: Oregon State Board of Education
cc: Salem/Keizer School District
Katherine Stone. M.A., QMHP, CADC I
Linda Farrington, Chair SK We Stand Together