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Two Gunn students hurt in car accident

Original post made on Sep 20, 2007

Two members of the Gunn High boys' water polo team suffered injuries from a car accident on their way to a 3 p.m. match in Los Gatos Wednesday.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, September 20, 2007, 1:31 PM

Comments (42)

Posted by Parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 20, 2007 at 4:11 pm

As a parent of one teen driver and another soon to start, I just feel that this accident left the irresponsible driver and her friend off very lightly indeed. It seems that she broke the law (having another teen in the car also is against the law for new drivers) as well as having been refused permission.

I hope that the driver gets their licence suspended and the passenger also gets some form of suspension. This, is not necessarily a time for school discipline, but it is a time for the law to take control and also for parental discipline.

The injuries are minor, but could have been a lot worse. Leaving school and trying to get to a game is a pathetic excuse for having an accident. The powers that be should make sure that the timing of games is realistic and that reasonable transport arrangements are made. If these kids had killed someone else ..... it just doesn't bear thinking about.


Posted by Big Al, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 20, 2007 at 4:42 pm

Parent- I agree that this is unacceptable- was there no other way for these students to get there- that's hard to believe- the law should be applied. Sounds like these people are not
quite ready for the road- and put us all at risk when they do-glad nobody was seriously hurt in this case- if the game is so important perhaps an elder could get them there- you know- maybe one of their parents- if they are not too busy....

What interests me more is this- the story within the story- the girl who wasn't caught as she
tumbled headfirst to the floor- whoops! What suprises me is that parents and the schools will allow this kind of stuff to go on- without paid professionals doing the spotting- sounds like a recipe for disaster to me- and while this girl may have recovered from her fall- many more may not be so lucky-


Posted by Nick, a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 20, 2007 at 8:04 pm

I think that the person that commented this article dosent know anything and there for should not pass jugment on these kids or there parents


Posted by Buddy ol Pal, a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 20, 2007 at 10:03 pm

As a teammate and a friend of the two athletes in question, I think that they should be treated with a little more respect and not just as another point for the case against teen driving. These are my good friends, and what happened to them could have been a lot worse. Yes, we are lucky that the injuries are minor (if you consider a triple compound fracture of the femur and a cut off toe "minor"). What I find slightly appalling is that someone who does not even know the full story can comment in such a biased way. As for professional spotters, on the cheer squad - next will we be expected to have professional water polo referees at all our practices and pro football players integrated with the team? When you sign up to do a sport, you sign a contract. The key word is contract. A document, a waiver, stating that you realize that the sport is hazardous and potentially fatal. I dont hear you complaining about any of the numerous concussions, spinal injuries, and deep tissue injuries that students on the football team have gotten. Also, you make it seem as if the parents are negligent, adn dont care about the athletes' safety. " you know- maybe one of their parents- if they are not too busy...." This really hurts, I've got to say. My parents, and the parents of most of the people on the team work, and are busy during the day. So in the future, please do not comment on things that you don't really know the full story behind, especially such biased comments.


Posted by Mike, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 20, 2007 at 11:09 pm

Students at Gunn, it's totally fair for people to comment about anything they want to, that's what these boards are for. That being said, I agree with the general sentiment that it's not good to pass judgment on events or people if you don't have substantial information on the entity in question. I disagree with the comments made earlier, high schoolers have been driving to athletic events together since Grease and it's not going to stop anytime soon no matter what sort of judicial or educational law is enforced, but it's a good thing that we have the right to voice our opinions. I also agree that the injuries were not minor at all, we should all be grateful that they were not worse.

Over-protective parents are just as bad as negligent ones!!! Way too many examples to back that up parents. (NOTE I DID NOT SAY PROTECTIVE I SAID OVER PROTECTIVE)

My thoughts are with the family and friends of the injured and I hope their recovery unfolds in the best possible way.


Posted by Actual Reader, a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 21, 2007 at 9:22 am

I'd just like to point out that although the article specifically mentions the, um, BOYS waterpolo team and later mentions "one of the BOYS", our first esteemed commenter chose to refer to the "irresponsible driver and her friend". If you can't be trusted to read the article, I don't think you can be trusted to make educated judgements on the situation.

If you want to stop teens from driving other underage peers, you'll need a much larger shakedown than penalizing two of them. Even having a law against it ensures that teens will break it, because you for damn sure won't be able to stop teen driving from happening.

Oh by the way, the femur - it's this big bone in your thigh, actually it's the biggest, and it's somewhat important for waterpolo, and, er, standing and walking too. I guess it's not very important. Pretty minor bone, actually, to break. Too bad for that young lawbreaking rascal. He sure got what he deserved, huh?

And finally, I don't know if our first commenter will read this board again, but a personal question: If the two had died...does that bear thinking about? Or would it be a just reward?


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 21, 2007 at 9:36 am

I do feel that more should be said on this subject.

It is true that the only details I know are the ones mentioned in the report and because of that it is worth using this event as an example to our young drivers. If the names of the students were disclosed with more details, then more compassion can be given. But an anonymous accident to anonymous people can be used as an example.

True, the injuries to the two involved are not trivial, but they will heal and even losing part of a toe is not as bad as death to themselves, or possibly to other road users.

The important part of the story to me is that the students disobeyed the law and the teacher.

Accidents don't "just happen". There is always a cause. And, if something positive can come out of this it will be the lesson to all the young "rookie" drivers in our community.

I do have sympathy for the students and their families, But, since I do not know them I prefer to use this as an example to other teen drivers of what not to do.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 21, 2007 at 9:41 am

I think the bigger issue should focus on why the school district is not providing transportation for a Palo Alto team to a scheduled athletic event? Please don't say that we don't have the money when we are paying many school administrators three figure salaries. Get a bus for these kids and act like responsible adults.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 21, 2007 at 9:51 am

As the original commenter and the one above, I wish to add that my last post was written before the previous post was posted.

I apologise for saying "her" friend. To me, the identity of the students was hidden and the sex of the students was irrelevant.

No, I do not think that the accident was a just reward for lawbreaking or disobeying a teacher. That was not the point.

The point to me is that it is fortunate for these two students that they are still alive and will recover, albeit after a long healing process.

We continually see data and figures for teen accidents, somuchso that we don't always realise that these correlate to real accidents to real people. Using real examples of an accident with a little background of the hows and whys, may hit home the point.

I am not a Gunn parent, maybe if I was I would be able to comment more on the situation or the students. However, even if these were two Paly students, I would still feel the same and use this as an example to my own kids. I did in fact vaguely know of the young Paly grad who died this summer in an accident and she was known to my eldest kid through classes, and she was also used by me as an example that accidents don't just happen and there had to be a reason. I hope they learned something from that just as much as they learn from this.

Lastly, I do not want to appear unsympathetic to the families and friends of the injured. When you don't know the details, it is easier to be able to look objectively and dispassionate and just learn the lessons.


Posted by Roy, a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Sep 21, 2007 at 10:01 am

I would like to see Kevin Skelly get more involved in preventing these matter.


Posted by Facts First, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 21, 2007 at 10:29 am

Resident of Crescent Park,
With only the article to go by, we seem to be reading different things between the lines. My interpretation was that a school bus WAS available, that the coach told the students they are not allowed to drive, but that the students chose - for whatever reason - to drive on their own anyhow.
Why not wait until you know all the facts before lecturing about a situation that might not be true?
My impression is that bus transportation is provided to most (all?) high school sporting events. HS sports parents: is it true?


Posted by parent of gunn student, a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 21, 2007 at 11:38 am

A bus was NOT provided. Only football and track have buses provided, as far as I know. Other sports have parent driver or coach drivers. I know. I have to drive my child to his or her games alot. As a school district we should ALWAYS be providing buses or transportation for ALL sports on a consistent basis and that is the ONLY way the team can travel unless occasionally there is an exception.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 21, 2007 at 12:24 pm

The school district should be providing busses, or the so called 'contract' for signing kids up for school sports should come with a statement that says that transportation to away games must be parent provided. In other words, parent organized, parent driven, carpools.

Yes its a burden. I'm a full time working mom with three kids all doing different stuff. And yes, I have to take time off to drive 1 or 2 times during the season, for each kid, each sport.

It is absolutely unacceptable for the sports program to be setting up a situation where the students feel pressured, obligated, or empowered to take off in their cars with other kids as passenger, and/or without permission.

Did these kids have any other options? I don't really fault the kids here - kids are basically short sighted, and mistakes happen. I think they were put in a position to have to consider making this ride for the sake of the team sport. (When you are on a team - the team relies on you, and the concept of being a 'team player' is made clear from a young age.) They shouldn't have had to make that choice. I think its a sad shame that they were hurt and I hope they'll be OK.

How much does a bus ride for a team to&from an away game cost the school? Does the district own busses? Or do they charter them? I can imagine that chartered busses can be very expensive, and if mandated, would probably be cost prohibitive and would cause the schools to offer fewer sports -which would be a shame. So I think mandatory parent car pools should be a requirement of signing the kids up for school sports.


Posted by Paly Parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 21, 2007 at 12:33 pm

It isn't just sports. The Paly choir have to be in San Francisco next Friday for 6.30 a.m. for a performance. No transport is provided and it is up to families to ensure they get there. The only information given is about using Caltrain. And, this is for a class which needs full participation for grades.


Posted by Terry, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 21, 2007 at 1:00 pm

I assume the school district doesn't provide transport because of the cost. The coach/team does not seem to have pressured the kids to drive - in fact, it seems from the article the coach clearly told them they could not.

I am sure having to drive kids to away games is a burden; but the cost of providing transportation to games (or other school obligations) is a cost that would add up pretty fast (2 high schools plus 3 middle schools x N programs x Y non-home events).

Are there user fees for these sports? Schools I know that have them complain bitterly, but it is the way many districts fund sports-related costs.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 21, 2007 at 1:42 pm

Paly Parent - this sounds like it could be considered a class 'field trip' type of thing, and I've been in the Palo Alto schools for years and its always been handled by parent carpool volunteers to get the kids to the destination.

The other possibility is that some concerned parents volunteer to help get the kids on the caltrain ride... Or go with... Or the parents get together and fund a bus ride or something.

This is how it should be for this case - treated as a field trip. Perhaps the class can sell magazines to fund transportation costs in the future. (JK)

Terry - I agree - I don't believe the coach or school explicitly pressured them to go on that drive. It sounds like they were specifically told not drive because they didn't have permission. But there's plenty of implied pressure that is part of being on a competitive high school level team that goes something like: 'If you want to be on this team - you better find a way to get there, and you better be there on time'. Penalties to range from getting kicked off team, to not getting playing time. There's no way that coach said 'Oh, you can't make it? Well don't worry, we'll just see you at the next one." And by the time they get to this level, the kids aren't exactly just laxidasical about their sports either - they want to be there, they want to win. And parents can put this pressure on too.

That's what I meant when I said kids shouldn't be in put in this position. They shouldn't have to be contemplating an unauthorized drive in the first place...


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 21, 2007 at 3:59 pm

wait, if you sign up to be on a school team presumably you know upfront what you will be doing and where and you can make plans for transportation. This can't just come up as a surprise that the students need to go to away games/meets/activities.


Posted by Recent Grad, a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 21, 2007 at 8:06 pm

As a recent grad and member of the Gunn tennis team, I would like to weigh in on the transportation issue. All we were provided for away matches was one van, which could hold 8 people. 10 people play in each match, and often, extras play matches as well (especially on the JV team, most of whom cannot drive). If no parents were available to drive and you were not lucky enough to get a spot on the van, you were expected to find your own way to the match. So, although there are arguments about the teen driving thing, many times, other options are hard to come by when you can't skip matches/games for fear of losing playing time or your place on the team and your parents work, etc. It would help if the school district gave us some more options for transportation. In 9th grade, we had buses to games...where did they go? There is a bigger issue here, and it is one that needs to be addressed.


Posted by gunn polo player, a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 21, 2007 at 8:28 pm

They deserved to break their femur since they broke the law, lol. That is along the same lines as if you j-walk you should be hit by a car. If you do not know what happened just don't make stuff up.


Posted by Kyle, a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 22, 2007 at 3:42 pm

The first person to comment needs to reevaluate their outlook on this incident. Disregarding the policy forbidding athletes from driving themselves to sporting events is irresponsible. As an alumni of this very team, I am aware of this rule and its importance was always stressed by the coaching staff. But the fact of the matter is this rule is in place to protect the school from a very costly liability (completely understandable). However, in this case the probability that a teenager will get in an accident is no higher because a rule is being broken at the time of the accident. These kids were just as likely to have an accident driving to school that morning. Our focus should not be on the rule infraction, but rather on the health of these young men and the steps the administration willl take to make sure that all athletes understand that you just have to suffer driving with your parents in the future.


Posted by 12 yearold, a water polo player for stanford water polo club, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 22, 2007 at 4:19 pm

i think this was a coinsedence and the blame should not be too strong.
i believe that what these kids did was wrong but who would have thought that they would actually get in an accident. what i really feel strongly about is the state of the road they were driving on. as a member of the water polo community i wish these kids well and hope that in the future the transpotation situation is more organized. do us all a favor and offer a prayer for these two members of the community.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 22, 2007 at 5:46 pm

It is illegal for a newly licensed driver to drive another teen (unless a sibling). Unless the driver was over 18 and had been driving over a year, he was actually breaking the law. It is also illegal for such drivers to driver between 11.00 p.m. and 5.00 a.m.

I feel that it is up to the parents of any young driver to make sure that their kids obey the law.

I do hope the two involved in the accident recover completely and in as fast a manner as possible, but if it is found that they broke the law, then they will have to suffer the legal consequences.


Posted by Inquisitive, a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 22, 2007 at 9:13 pm

Parent,
I agree with you. The rules on teenagers have become very relaxed and the Police department as well as others in the community have turned a blind eye to rule-breaking and in general, I firmly support the tough restrictions and unwavering enforcement of the laws on teenagers.

Yet, I have no doubt that these students' possible senses of invincibility have been shattered, and these players have surely learned valuable lessons and the severe errors in their ways. Further elongation of this ordeal and its consequences would be purely punitive and otherwise unnecessary.

However I'm going to take this chance to bring up two other issues. It should be noted that the police department and the community seems to have casual attitude regarding underage drinking. And I don't get it. Pictures are plastered about the internet left and right from these drinking-based social gatherings--the evidence is sitting on virtually every teenager's computer screen. Yet, we go about unphased by that behavior and throw our arms up in severe distress because SOMEONE MAY have broken a rule that is far less dangerous that the others that Palo Alto chooses to ignore.

So to your point, Parent, I think there is a dangerous imbalance as to which rules we are choosing to enforce, and I personally think it would be inappropriate and another frivilous clog of the judicial system to try and have these boys prosecuted.

I also have the compulsive need to ask the question, shouldn't the schools provide buses? Personally, I think they should. I assume that student athletes must put money down the participate in sports. Assuming that there are atleast 20 combined water polo players that pay, let's presume $100, that would equate to atleast $2,000. Although I don't quite know all of the logistics behind how school sports are run, I would think that that money should be efficiently allocated to provide for the water polo team (pool maintenance costs I assume are handled by the school, seeing that PE classes and other recreational groups utilize the substandard Gunn pool). Could not the team pay for atleast all of their official league games out of the minimum $2000 that they earn? Or is the money being squandered in other unnecessary ways or going to other teams to provide for THEIR transportation needs.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 22, 2007 at 9:45 pm

Inquisitive

I do agree with the majority of what you say. However, I think that there are big differences between disobeying driving laws and the problem of underage drinking.

Driving a car is a privilege and not just the rite of passage that many of our teens seem to think. A car is a potentially dangerous weapon and in the hands of particularly invincible thinking teens can prove lethal to themselves and all on the road. Yes, we all need to obey driving laws and we need to encourage our young people to do the same, not blatantly disregard them.

Underage drinking is a slightly different problem. It goes without saying that drinking and driving at any age is dangerous. But the assumption of underage drinking is always coupled with the idea of drunkeness and the irresponsible behavior that can occur as a result. There are other ways of looking at this and this is where the problem lies. The other side of this is that it does take away the ability of parents to teach their youngsters how to drink responsibly. What, for instance, is intrinsically wrong with parents having a glass of wine in their own home with their 19 year old over a special meal? Or what about a father having a beer with his 18 year old son while watching a football game in their own family room? We are not talking about partying, but treating their over 18 year old children as adults and showing them that they can drink without getting drunk in an appropriate setting. This can be considered taking the mystery away from alcohold inasfaras when they are out on their own, the compulsion to always over-indulge is not necessary or required to having a drink for social reasons. We are not talking about partying here, or about getting drunk for the fun of it. This would purely be for parents and their own kids. And, remember that many of the parents round here grew up elsewhere in cultures where this was part of their growing up, when driving for them was not.




Posted by Inquisitive, a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 22, 2007 at 10:11 pm

Parent, I believe there is a direct correlation between underage drinking and driving laws and further I cannot disassociate the not so-rare-occurrences of the two being mixed.

Although I could imagine that "what-you-see-on-TV" teenagers may seem to have this "rite-of-passage" mentality in reference to driving, I do not believe that this can be applied as a blanket generalization to all teenage drivers.

But Yes, I do acknowledge the fact that there are instances--this possibly being one of them-- where the rite of passage mentality may have been present.

This may not be the appropriate forum but, I do disagree with your alcohol-analysis for teenagers. I think it would be especially dangerous to ignore the fact that irresponsible, unmonitored, underage drinking occurs--frequently in Palo Alto. Further, not all parents are solid, trustworthy parents. About 2-3 years ago a Palo Alto high schooler was at a party where alcohol was being served, while the parents were home, and the student was beaten on by other students and suffered signficant injuries. Or let's take the example of the elementary school teacher (who in a sense serves as a surrogate mother for younger students) who was recently in "hot water" for serving alcohol to high-schoolers.


I'm sorry, but I firmly believe that the examples you provided serve to be far less than 2% of the underage drinking that occurs.


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on Sep 22, 2007 at 10:52 pm




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Posted by ?, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 23, 2007 at 11:26 am

Inquisitive,

As buddy ol pal said in the begging, if you don't know what happed does speculate and make things up. The bottom line is that you have no clue what happened.


Posted by Inquisitive, a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 23, 2007 at 1:01 pm

?,
I have not made anything up. Please re-read my multiple comments and then please offer a new analysis of my comments and offer new advice.

Thank you.


Posted by Inquisitive, a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 23, 2007 at 1:05 pm

After re-reading my own comments, I apologize that if someone has not followed my comments in their entirety may be misleading.

This was not a drunk driving incident, there was no alcohol, and these two students only made a serious misjudgement in deciding to drive after possibly being placed in a potentially tough position with no school-provided mass transport.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 23, 2007 at 4:19 pm

Inquisitive

I would also like to prevent any misinterpretation of my comments.

I thoroughly agree that the instances about underage drinking you describe is abhorrent. Whereas I will not go into them in detail, I will make my own point clearer.

Teenage drinking is wrong. Many parents however are placed in a dilemma when it comes to showing their teens how to behave responsibly with alcohol. Many parents, particularly those known to me, would never dream of letting teens drink in their homes and go out of their way to prevent it. I am not talking about this. Teens are prone to drink too much because peer pressure puts them in the situation where they do not know how to say "no". Teen social drinking is definitely not what I am addressing.

Many parents do want teach responsible behavior to their teens while they are still at home. By the time someone reaches 21 they have left home and then suddenly, one day, they are allowed to buy alcohol and drink to their hearts content. They have supposedly never done it before if they have obeyed the law. They don't know how to drink and they are possibly put under pressure from older and not necessarily wiser friends to go drinking. Instead, many parents feel that they would like to be able to have a glass of wine with dinner, or watch a football game with a beer, or some other low key option to show how sensible drinking should happen. From this, a young person is in a safe place (home) with a safe adult (parent) to experience what happens with alcohol for the first time. They experience the sensations that alcohol create and are in a much better position to say, OK, I feel strange, I feel that this could lead to something if I have any more and so I won't. At present, these parents are doing something that is against the law, but they break the law to show to their offspring what happens when drinking alochol and how to say enough is enough. Leaving this lesson until 21 is just not possible for most families.

However, what we are talking about in this thread is not breaking drinking laws, but breaking driving laws. Parents should never agree to driving laws being broken. Parents should always know if their own young driver is out on the road and where they are going. They should never let them drive another teenager around. They should never let them drive around after 11.00. Likewise, a parent should tell their teen never to get into a car with another teen driving. If a parent knows that their teen driver is on a sports team, they should make it clear that if they must drive to an after school game, they cannot drive anyone else. If they have a teen on a sports team they should make it clear that they never go to an away game with another teen. Never. No excuse. If the parent is not able to arrange for transportation and the school is not providing transportation it is no excuse. They should not break the law.

One teen in a car driving unfamiliar roads in a hurry to get to their destination is one thing. If this had been what happened in the accident we were discussing, then the citicism would be different. Put two teens in a car driving unfamiliar roads in a hurry to get to their match, plus the distraction of friends being together, can and did cause an accident in this case. Accidents don't just happen, there is always a cause. Definitely one of the causes of this accident is that the driver broke the law.


Posted by Inquisitve, a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 23, 2007 at 5:46 pm

Parent,
I agree with what you're saying, and I don't think anyone disagrees with you. However, I'm having trouble understanding your point.

Yes, you've clearly indicated that the law was broken. The players should not have been driving, and I think that is the general consensus.

However, if your point is to further penalize them for what you allege to be criminal mistakes, I think that would be, like I said, a frivilous prosecution that would serve no substantial purpose. These families are paying through the physical trauma and whatever medical costs, vehicular repair costs, etc. which we can expect to be pretty costly.

Punishing teenagers for accidents like these should not be the platform for change. Preventing accidents like these by stricter enforcement of ALL the rules (driving and otherwise) should be the platform to change. It should start in the home, and be nurtured by the community and schools by lessening the need or the impression/student-felt need for breaking the rules.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 23, 2007 at 8:08 pm

Inquisitive

You are right. I am not too sure myself what my point is other than that I think it must be said that the law was broken and this accident in itself should be used as a lesson to all teen drivers in Palo Alto.

No, I agree that the trauma the players and their families are going through are enough for them. If they are wise, they will all learn from the mistakes made. A suspended licence or similar will not make much more difference, but a lasting reminder will be there from the scars, both physical and emotional.


Posted by Former Coach, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 24, 2007 at 8:52 am

I used to coach at one of the high schools in Palo Alto. It was not basketball or football -- and we had a bus to every away matchup. I made it very clear that students were not allowed to drive one another to anything at all, and had a very strict policy regarding who was allowed to pick up an athlete at an away match if the athlete did not take the bus back to campus.

I suspended an athlete from the team when this athlete snuck away from one of our away games and left with some friends. This athlete was clearly told that another infraction would lead to being dismissed from the team.

The athletic director made it very clear to me that I was responsible for the players from the second they stepped on the bus until they returned to campus or got home some other way. I was accused of being overly controlling on this particular issue more than once, but an accident of this sort is exactly what I was successful in preventing over many years of coaching.


Posted by gunn parent, a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 24, 2007 at 10:57 am

What sport did you coach? The kids on the water polo team are NOT provided with buses or vans. Why not? Why are some sports and not others? We have to pay $150 to play each sport at school but some are given more priveledge that others. The football team gets uniforms but the water polo teams doesn't get swim suits or buses or vans. Why??


Posted by Former Coach, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 24, 2007 at 1:05 pm

Gunn Parent, you need to join the athletic boosters and get some of these questions answered, and also meet with your school's athletic director. The sport I coached was somewhat underfunded until a couple of pushy parents and a loud coach made effective presentations and got more money.

I can't tell you why a particular sport is underfunded nowadays. We are told that the participation fee goes to pay for transportation and referees. Coaches and uniforms and such are paid for by the district and the boosters.

Many teams put on fundraisers so they can pay for extras like warmups and personalized stuff. I think one of the water polo's team's problems is the time of their games -- pulling a bus out of the after-school rotation to haul a team somewhere for a 3PM game is not an easy task.

The few times my teams didn't have buses, we organized carpools to make sure the kids got to the proper place on time, driven by parents or coaches. Everyone was accounted for during every event. I can only imagine that this water polo coach is very new ... ???? And has had little support or advising from the Gunn AD or other coaches .. ????

I don't have my handbook any more, but I recall that it is district policy that students cannot drive themselves or others to/from events.


Posted by A Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 24, 2007 at 6:23 pm

Does anyone know if the students were wearing seat belts?


Posted by another former coach, a resident of another community
on Sep 24, 2007 at 7:29 pm

In my opinion, buses are not necessarily the answer. I also coached before - a small team. It is OK for students to drive themselves (with a parent note) and completely not OK for them to drive each other.

I often asked my students to drive themselves. I also asked parents to volunteer and I drove kids myself. I was also given access to the van but I never had to use it.

The times that kids were using the bus it became political (imagine that?!?!). One time, there was a track meet at Gunn at 4 and a swimming meet at Paly at 3. The swimmers were dismissed from class at 12:30. They waited for the bus to come get them - it didn't arrive until 2:30 - full of the Paly track team. The district (I'm not sure who was ultimately responsible for this) decided that it was the best use of gas to take the Paly track team to Gunn and then take the Gunn swimming team to Paly. The swim team needlessly missed out on valuable class time and had to delay their meet because of the scheduling.

When you think about a $150 fee to play sports... consider some of the costs of running a sports program. Liability, facilities and equipment maintenance, transportation, coaches payment... Some sports see far more of that money than others- only certain sports get their uniforms supplied to them. And as the other former coach mentioned, it depends on the sports boosters and the parent involvement in that particular sport. Some sports are more expensive than others too.

In regards to the accident - it is unfortunate. Thank god the kids weren't more severely injured. I've seen first hand what happens when teenagers see the community and their parents fighting about who is to blame (I'm not saying that all of you are doing that here, I know some of you are looking for a solution for the future). Rather than pointing the blame to others, hopefully they can learn from their mistakes and the mistakes of others.


Posted by We need support for sports, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 24, 2007 at 11:59 pm

In a meeting it was stated that last year the district provided $40,000 to the high schools for sports programs. This year they got $0. How do you fund coaches, uniforms, buses, etc. with that type of funding?

Sports Booster support is needed at the high school level and awareness of the funding is needed for all parents. It would be great if everyone interested would get involved and get the facts instead of just asking questions.


Posted by Paly Parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 25, 2007 at 9:11 am

I may be just someone asking questions, but if we don't know, how can we help.

I have one student in Paly and one already graduated. Over the years my family has gone to Paly football, basketball games. We have bought tickets, bought snacks, etc. and through this we felt that as a family we were helping the sports programs at school. Is this not the case? If my family spends $30 say at a game, where does this money go? Does it help just that particular sport (which my kids do not play) or does it help all sports (including the ones they do play)?


Posted by We need support for sports, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 25, 2007 at 10:52 am

Going to the events and spending money on the events shows great fan support and some of that money does go to fund sports. However, a great deal of that money goes to pay security, officials, lights and other costs of running the event.

Do you know how many people spend numerous amounts of time and energy to get the event together, haul in the snacks, sell the snacks and clean up the event? This is where Sports Boosters and other parents and staff have spent tremendous hours to make sure that fans can come and enjoy the food and the game.

If you would like to find out how you can help just contact your school's Sports Booster group.


Posted by Fan of sports, a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 25, 2007 at 11:13 am

To Gunn Parent

You state "The football team gets uniforms but the water polo teams doesn't get swim suits". My son played football at Gunn and we always paid for the uniforms (approx. $100) but now they do not pay for the jerseys because they do not keep the jerseys or pants. They now pay (approx. $60) for a "spirit pack" that includes practice tshirt and shorts and other accessories that you would not want to pass on from year to year. Football also pays the $150 participation fee as well.


Posted by an athlete, a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 25, 2007 at 4:32 pm

I just wanted to make clear that no where in the article does it state that the students were breaking any statewide laws. It simply tells us that they broke a PAUSD policy. Although specifics are not given, if the driver had had his license for over a year, according to California law it is completely legal for him to drive another minor.

I for one was not even aware that this (PAUSD) policy was in place, especially because of the number of people who do drive themselves and others to sports events. For many (and most) away sports events buses are not provided and students are expected to find rides some other way. If buses are provided, often it is only for a one-way trip. Buses are expensive and hard to come by (as a parent stated earlier, due to the after-school rotation) and frequently students choose to not use the buses because of the extra classes they miss due to the lengthly amount of time it takes waiting for the bus. Gunn sports aside, in many club sports carpooling is common and I have frequently driven with one of my teammates to an away game and have yet to have any accidents or mishaps.

In addition to this, Gunn has a highly competitive academic atmosphere, and many away sports games require the athlete to leave school early, possibly missing important classes. I myself have chosen to arrive a bit later to an away game in order to not miss a very challenging and important class.

What happened to the water polo players is tragic, and I hope they recover quickly, and will still be able to play water polo once their injuries heal.


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