By Bob Kirkpatrick
Following a lengthy investigation into allegations of physical and emotional abuse leveled by the parents of girls on the team against Woodinville Varsity Volleyball Head Coach Andrea Roelen, officials of the Northshore School District have found insufficient evidence supporting the claims.
“The complaints were lodged under the District’s harassment, intimidation and bullying (HIB) policy, Policy 3207,” said Northshore School District Chief Communication and Experience Officer Lisa Youngblood Hall. “After a thorough investigation of all complaints, the finding is that the District’s Policy 3207 was not violated.”
The list of complaints investigated included inappropriate touching, harassment, intimidation, unapproachability, bullying, retaliating against players, and sharing of a players’ personal information. Also mentioned in the complaints were fear of coach Roelen, incidents of the coach physically grabbing players on the bus during road trips, and the issue of journaling as part of the volleyball program.
Although district officials did not provide Northshore News details of the investigation, they did supply information to coach Roelen’s lawyer Moshe (Jeff) Admon, who in turn, emailed the details to Northshore News.
According to the email, district officials interviewed the complainants, eight current varsity members of the team, four junior varsity players and six volleyball coaches. They also reviewed emails from complainants and their families and reviewed video and audio recordings, including video footage from a bus ride while traveling to a game.
The Woodinville High School Resource Officer (SRO) also interviewed the student who claimed coach Roelen inappropriately touched her. The SRO determined that the claim was unfounded.
Admon disclosed that the District found sufficient evidence to support a conclusion that Roelen shared a personal fact about a player with another coach. However, the evidence does not establish the sharing was wrongful or that any other sharing of personal protected information occurred.
The email further states coach Roelen shared one factual piece of information about a player with another coach to explain why the player was upset. The District found that the sharing was not wrongful and under the circumstances had a rational educational justification and did not constitute a violation of district policy. The District also found that coach Roelen had her players practice journaling as part of the volleyball program.
Regarding allegations of coach Roelen physically grabbing players on a bus, Admon shared the District stated in the detailed report, at no point in the video does the coach grab a team member. The video does show coach Roelen momentarily stopping a few players from exiting the bus to make sure they thanked the driver.
Coach Roelen offered the following statement through Admon after the District released its findings of the investigation:
“The events of the past two months have been devastating to me and my family. It is the nightmare that every educator, coach, and public servant fears—to be accused of things that are absolutely not true,” Roelen said. “The unfounded allegations by this small group of parents are hurtful beyond words because I have always taken great care to coach and direct the Woodinville High School program with the best interests of my players in mind.
“I’m also deeply saddened by how this conflict has affected the rest of the team. The one ray of light during this difficult ordeal has been the incredible outpouring of emails, phone calls, texts, and letters from dozens of current and former players and parents, and other coaches, teachers, friends and community members sharing their love and support for me and my family. Now that I have been vindicated by the findings of the District’s investigation, and with the support of those who know my true character, I hope that the process of healing and reconciliation can now begin for me and the Woodinville Volleyball program.”