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Monday's courageous school board appearance

When something tragic happens to you, when you're embarrased and heartbroken, when your world is turned upside down, the common and understandable response is to hunker down, hide from the public.

Jon Bowerman is not common. On Monday night, he went to the 509-J School Board and publicly apologized for the highly publicized alleged actions of his wife, Melissa.

I don't agree with all the points Mr. Bowerman made to the school board Monday, and I'm confident he doesn't agree with all the coverage and opinion of the incident within our newspaper. But no one should question the courage and tenacity of 76-year-old Jon Bowerman. I think his appearance at the school board Monday was cathartic for him, for sure, and even the district to a lesser extent.

I do agree that it's ludicrous to connect the accused Mrs. Bowerman to Jon Bowerman's famous father, Bill Bowerman, the Oregon track coach who created the Nike shoe and co-founded the company. The late Bill Bowerman never met Melissa Bowerman, 43.

But that's what the major media does. When the second cousin of a famous person gets in trouble, the fact that they are the "second cousin to (insert famous name here)" is what makes the lead paragraph. It never occurred to me to connect the two, but maybe that's because (or why) I hang out in Central Oregon and not Central Park.

But I disagree, though, with the idea of placing any blame for this incident on Fossil Superintendent Brad Sperry. When Melissa Bowerman was dismissed as track coach for Fossil-Condon a few years back, Sperry made it clear that there was "more to the story" and that "red flags" were out there regarding her conduct, none of it rising to criminal levels, however. Sperry (and other Fossil-Condon officials) took a tremendous amount of heat with the dismissal of Melissa Bowerman, done so at the insistence of a joint Fossil-Condon contingent, not just his whim.

Sperry shouldn't have been expected to follow Mrs. Bowerman's job applications and do pre-emptive strikes. I think it was beholden upon MHS officials to reach out to Sperry and others behind the Fossil-Condon decision, not vice versa, before Melissa Bowerman was brought on as coach. If he was asked, and refused to divulge information, then I would blame Sperry. That apparently wasn't the case. It's also possibly that what Sperry had to say about Bowerman wouldn't have kept her from getting the MHS job anyway.

MHS has been knocked to the ground by these twin scandals — Bowerman and last winter's arrest of girls basketball coach Mike Osborne on sexually abusing a girl on his team. The school, and White Buffalo athletics, can only get up and dust itself off, smarter, tougher and wiser — and that's exactly what's happening. District officials are resisting the tack of saying it could happen anywhere — though it certainly could — instead focusing on making sure it doesn't happen here, again.

Superintendent Rick Molitor, as always, is responding as a professional should, saying and doing all the right things. The school needs to own what happened, in both coach/sexual abuse cases, learn from them and react accordingly — and they have. Steps have already been taken, and programs implemented, as defenses against this happening again.

Kudos for Jon Bowerman for going face first into the storm — and to the district as well. People, families, organizations, we all need to occasionally pick ourselves off the ground and start again, all the wiser.



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