Monday evening, we attended the Special Board Meeting at Bigfork High School where we finally received the report from the school’s lawyer regarding the circumstances surrounding our son’s death. Although we were hopeful it would be truly independent and without bias, we were sadly disappointed.
The report from the school’s hand-picked attorney is an insult to our late son, his family and the community.
The obvious starting point for any honest investigation would be the glaring question of whether the coaches were wrong to hold that fatal practice in the dangerous smoke-filled air and heat.
The decision by the school and its hand-picked attorney not to include that issue in the report is an admission of guilt. They knew at the time, and they know now, that they should not have practiced our children in that dangerous air and heat. But they decided to risk the health of those kids for their own purposes.
The coaches played Russian roulette with the lives of those boys, and our son lost.
We hope that the entire community immediately demands an answer from the school district and its lawyer to these critical questions:
(1) Who decided that this “investigation” would not address whether the team should have been practicing in the smoke and heat?
(2) If that wasn’t part of the investigation why did the school’s lawyer question witnesses about it?
Any claim by the school or its hand-picked attorney that this is an independent investigation is nonsense. When the school’s lawyer conducted one of the final interviews, attorney Todd Glazer asked her who she was hired by. Her answer was “the insurance company.” We don’t think that fits anybody’s definition of an independent investigation.
The fact that this investigation was biased and incomplete is also shown by the unfounded claim of the school’s attorney that after our son went to the ground the response of the coaches was “appropriate.”
We believe that she started with that conclusion, and then tried to manufacture a report to support it.
For example, in order to reach her conclusion, the school’s lawyer apparently decided to simply ignore the statements of three critical eyewitnesses. Those three eyewitnesses were kids who felt so strongly about what they had seen that they had the courage to come forward, on their own, and contradict the coaches.
That takes guts. It also tells you that they are telling the truth. They had nothing to gain by doing that… just a lot to lose. And those are the witness she arbitrarily decided to disregard? That doesn’t make any sense. That is just the hired gun trying to protect her client.
We believe that it was irresponsible and unprofessional for the school’s lawyer to offer a public opinion that the response of the coaches was “appropriate” without offering any outside support for that opinion. Her report doesn’t include even one outside coach, athletic director, trainer, or school official who backs up her claim that the response of the coaches was “appropriate.” The school’s lawyer is none of those things. She’s just the school’s hand-picked lawyer.
In our opinion, the report prepared by the school’s hand-picked attorney was, in some ways, flat-out dishonest. For example, there is a critical eyewitness who rebuts the story the school is trying to concoct. In a bizarre attempt to make this witness disappear, the school’s lawyer claims in the report that our lawyer some how “tainted” the interview of that witness with his questions. That is simply not true.
Bob was at that interview. We have a transcript of it, and a tape. Our lawyer was just asking the courageous witness straight-forward questions, and when it became clear that the testimony was going to hurt the school, the school’s attorney tried to interrupt and stop the questioning. The fact that the school’s attorney would now try to explain away this witness by blaming the questioning shows a level of dishonesty and desperation which we think completely undermines her credibility.
Our view that this report was just an effort by the school’s lawyer to protect the school is confirmed by how she dealt with the fact that the coaches put players on the field (in the dangerous smoke-filled air) without a physical.
The report completely ignores the fact that the school district falsely stated to Montana and the nation that all of the other kids who did not have physicals were held out of practice that day. That statement was absolutely false and misleading.
Common sense tells you that people make false statements for a reason. The reason here is clear. The decision to practice those boys in the smoke and heat without the permission of a doctor is indefensible, and cost our child his life.
We believe that the report prepared by the school’s hand-picked attorney is a biased, misleading, and incomplete charade. Our son, and the community, deserve better.
Thank you for hearing us out.
Bob and Troy Bowman
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