Buckle up, folks, and see if you can follow along with Cal’s reasoning for completely redacting more than 100 pages of its investigative report on Teri McKeever, who was fired Tuesday for alleged bullying and verbal abuse.
The university cited three statutes to justify its heavily redacted report totaling nearly 500 pages. Government code section 7927.700 allows Cal to withhold personnel, medical, or similar files. The university also cited FERPA, which prevents the disclosure of personally identifiable information from education records, as well as section 7922.000, which allows Cal to withhold a record once they have determined that the public interest served by not disclosing the record clearly outweighs the public interest served by disclosure of the record.
One legal expert told SwimSwam that neither of those statutes support widespread redactions of entire sections.
Notably, the entire section titled “Prior Complaints to the University” is redacted along with two of the seven main allegations investigated by attorneys from Munger, Tolles & Olson (MTO).
MTO couldn’t make findings in the “Prior Complaints” section because Cal’s handling of previous allegations was excluded from the scope of the report. However, investigators still included a section summarizing what they learned, which is entirely blacked out.
When asked for further explanation of these broad redactions, a Cal spokesman said that “redactions are made where student or personnel privacy outweigh the public’s interest in disclosure or when no findings could be made for a variety of reasons.”
Student and personnel privacy is protected throughout the report by anonymizing sources and removing identifying details — and without eliminating entire sections. So let’s look at the second half of that justification: “when no findings could be made for a variety of reasons.”
In the case of the “Prior Complaints” section, MTO made no findings because it was instructed by Cal not to do so. The university is benefitting from the limited scope of its investigation instead of examining the administration’s own role in potentially enabling McKeever’s misconduct for years.
According to Scott Reid of the OC Register, top Cal administrators have been receiving complaints concerning McKeever’s alleged abuse since at least 2010. And one of McKeever’s primary defenses is that administrators were aware of her coaching style and absolved her of wrongdoing after past complaints. Whether this issue is an individual or systemic one is of significant public interest in this $2 million investigation by a public university.
The limited-scope loophole isn’t the only technicality that Cal’s legal team is using to its advantage.
“The report only covers areas where, yes, there was a policy, and yes, the allegations pass the bar of a preponderance of evidence,” a Cal spokesman said. “The past stuff — and this is really important — prior to 2016, there was no anti-abuse or anti-bullying policy at the university. So there can’t be findings of policy violations if there wasn’t a policy in place.”
This limitation mitigates the length of time that the administration acknowledges responsibility for not reacting to the complaints.
Moreover, that justification isn’t applied consistently throughout the report. At least seven swimmers described incidents occurring before 2016 that appeared un-redacted in the report. MTO reached conclusions about those incidents but did not make policy determinations as no anti-bullying policy existed at the time.
Most likely because there is PII in the redacted text.
Except that personally identifiable information is redacted throughout the report without eliminating entire sections
The law firm made it clear that the University had the attorney client privilege. We are fortunate that they released anything!
PII is anything that can be used to identify an individual. That includes a specific event. Did the individuals involved in some of the events ask for anonymity (were they even allowed to be anonymous)? Unsure of US legislation but it seems like a possible explanation.
Cal is trying to cover up all of the years when they knew what was going on but were trying to protect her.
I cannot speak definitively to what Cal is trying to do, because I have suspicions, but no evidence.
But I do think we should view everything Cal does through the lens of “they’re facing lawsuits from both directions.” They have to simultaneously find sufficient evidence to terminate Teri McKeever’s contract while not finding sufficient evidence for student-athletes to sue them for ignoring abuse claims for years.
It’s a difficult needle to thread, and I suspect why they focused so hard on the racial slur. It’s a smoking gun for firing her, but not necessarily evidentiary of a pattern of ignoring abuse.
Is redacting everything from before 2016 fair? Ethically fair. There is logic with no policy existing prior to 2016. But it still shows a relevant pattern of behavior and still is an underlying cause of current athlete repercussions. Is that justifiable enough to where the university must recognize these things and not shove it down?
If and when she files a 7-8-figure million dollar libel/wrongful termination suit, it will all come rolling out. I suspect that Cal won’t be quite so diligent when their own pocketbooks are on the line. There is, sadly, SO much more mileage in this entire thing!
She doesn’t have a leg to stand on. If there ever was good cause to terminate a contract this is it. You’re way off thinking this is a 7-8 figure lawsuit by McKeever. She’d be lucky to get a mid-six figure settlement.
She has no case…even the redacted report is rock solid….including what she has admitted
Do you think they may have made a deal that they’ll redact all that stuff in return for her NOT suing?
Does she sound like a dealmaker?
Even with the redactions if you are familiar with the stories you can pretty easily gather who is who. I did appreciate the privacy they were trying to create. Teri’s email’s definitely didn’t match her defense in many cases. As a person who was interviewed I will say in reading the report my suspicions as to what Teri was trying to accomplish were confirmed in her emails. It was interesting to see the role others played. Hopefully they will be held accountable as well.
They do it to hide things from you.
Gotta be the best way to keep a secret these days
All the n-words, prolly.
Safe sport does this crap too…. They threw my case out because there wasn’t a pacific swimming /USA swimming rule that explicitly prohibited giving kids massages….
That’s not fair. Every single coach has learned about grooming for the last 3 years because of everything in the past. It doesn’t make sense that because it was in the distant past to where no policy existed that it doesn’t count. How does that bring justice or even attempt to resolve the affected party?
The current MAAPPs require prohibition of coaches giving kids massages. If U.S. Swimming’s doesn’t prohibit that, please tell the U.S. Center for SafeSport. Unfortunately, if it wasn’t prohibited before USCSS started requiring it to be a part of every NGB’s MAAPP, then they can’t find a policy violation. (Like Richard Callaghan was cleared of raping a male athlete because state law at the time only defined “rape” as PIV, ugh.)
I’m sorry that what happened to you happened to you. Whether or not it was explicitly against policy, it was wrong and the adult knew it was wrong, and they harmed you. The SafeSport process revictimizes survivors. For whatever it’s worth, I believe you and I’m sorry.