Membership Letter February 22/17

Clark / Pel Appeal Decision
Information to Membership – February 22, 2017

As most of you know the CMHA was recently involved in an appeal hearing initiated by Bruce Clark and Susan Pel regarding their family’s expulsion from the CMHA. The CMHA has attached the decision of the independent appeals committee for transparency. Moving forward the CMHA will be publishing all discipline and appeal decisions on the website to further support a process of transparency. Although the CMHA agrees with, and has accepted the decision of the appeals committee, it is very disappointed that there are two children that are not playing hockey. This could have been dealt with in a civilized manner and in accordance with CMHA bylaws but it escalated in an unfortunate fashion. We have detailed some of the relevant facts below to ensure our membership is informed. These facts are derived directly from the concrete evidence (usually in the form of social media posts or emails, texts etc). Unfortunately, the Parents continue to pursue our volunteers in an irresponsible and intimidating fashion. Since the appeals committee sent out the ruling the parents have resumed posting inflammatory and personal comments regarding CMHA volunteers as well as calling the appeal process unfair. The CMHA will continue to pursue the protection of its volunteers through all means necessary.

Relevant facts that were presented to the appeals committee:

  1. In the early fall of 2016 there were numerous Facebook posts that called the Board of

    Directors “Corrupt” and insinuated that the Association was a “horrible place” among many other things.

  2. The CMHA board sent an email that warned the Parents of their inappropriate conduct. Their conduct was in breach of the Turning Point and Fair Play principles found in the CMHA Policy Handbook that were published on the website throughout this incident. The CMHA requested that the Parents cease these inflammatory posts and stop their disruptivebehaviourorfacefurtheraction. Thiswasawarningletteronlyandwasnota formal discipline process.
  3. In late November 2016 Mr. Bruce Clark was involved in an incident at the Kinsmen Arena when he was asked to stop disrupting, videotaping and photographing a Novice practice. This became a major incident and as such, combined with their history of social media posts and disruptive behavior, the Board of the CMHA voted to suspend the parents from attending CMHA events. The children were still allowed to participate in all events. The Board as whole voted on this which is not standard procedure. The reason that the entire board was engaged is that the VP in charge wanted to ensure any decision regarding the situation was unbiased and decided upon by the entire 15 member Board of Directors.
  4. The Parents did not appeal the suspension as required under the posted bylaws on the website. They had 7 days from the date of suspension and at no time inquired about the appeal process or if there was one available. The process was published on the website at all times.

Clark / Pel Appeal Decision
Information to Membership – February 22, 2017

  1. The Parents breached the suspension by entering the arena in early January and advised CMHA that they had retained Legal Counsel. In response, the CMHA retained Legal Counsel and sent a warning letter detailing that further breaches of the suspension could result in the family facing expulsion.
  2. Two days later the family breached the suspension again by entering an arena that they were not allowed in.
  3. The CMHA voted unanimously to expel the family to protect its volunteers and to ensure the minor hockey experience was preserved for the other youth and volunteers involved. The overall disruption to the team, including the players, coaches and parents was extreme. The CMHA further passed a motion in late January releasing the children to provide an opportunity for them to play elsewhere. The Parents did not request the transfer be complete at any time up to the date of this letter.
  4. The Parents undertook an aggressive social media and mainstream media campaign citing themselves as victims. The CMHA, under advisement of their legal counsel, did not respond to many of the accusations as they did not want to jeopardize the fairness of any future appeal by the Parents.
  5. The CMHA asked Jason Wheeldon to act as the chair of the appeal committee as he has no connection to hockey. He independently named the rest of his committee and created the ground rules for the appeal hearing. The appeal hearing was overseen by John Zimmer, QC and Duncan Smith, lawyers in Cranbrook that were engaged to ensure that the process adhered to the principles of natural justice. The CMHA and the Parents both agreed to an appeals contract that detailed the process and the rules the appeals committee will be requiring.
  6. At the appeal hearing the CMHA presented over 200 pages of evidence, through their counsel Russ Sheppard, that showed the egregious and abusive actions of the Parents including threats, verbal intimidation, text messages and numerous Facebook posts. These posts were from various points in time and regarding various different instances of inappropriate behavior. The Parents, and their agent Dr. John Kilfoil, presented roughly 100 pages of evidence to support their positon that the expulsions should be overturned. Much of their evidence included letters that Mr. Sheppard had sent to them as well as inappropriately videotaped youth practices and secret recordings of both phone calls and face to face conversations.

Clark / Pel Appeal Decision
Information to Membership – February 22, 2017

  1. The Appeals committee rendered a decision on February 16, 2017 that is attached for reference. It is key to note the committees finding regarding the conduct of the Parents towards the CMHA Board: “In the opinion of the committee, the Appellants (Clark/Pel) used words and phrases that were completely inappropriate. Further, it is suggested that no volunteer in any capacity should be subjected to the inflammatory forms of communication, either individually or as part of a group. The Committee recommends that the Appellants provide a written apology to the CMHA board for their communication particularly on social media.”
  2. The CMHA passed a motion to accept the ruling of the appeals committee and to work towards implementation of their recommendations.
  3. Since the ruling was sent to the parties the Parents have again undertaken a campaign of personal social media attacks on members of the CMHA Board. The Parents also wore shirts to the Hometown Hockey event last weekend that claimed their children were kicked out of Minor Hockey because the parents came to watch them play. Many individuals have communicated their distaste for the conduct of the parents at a celebration of youth in hockey. Further their shirts are not true as the expulsion was a result of numerous events leading up to them breaking their suspension.

The CMHA is moving forward from this incident. The Parents were expelled because they refused to stop abusing volunteers. The Appeals committee upheld the expulsion and gave the CMHA some recommendations for change to ensure incidents like this do not happen in the future. The CMHA has released the children for close to one month and is working hard to preserve the experience for all the other children involved in minor hockey.

All volunteer boards have issues but in the end there is a civilized process to follow to exact change. We remind you all that all meetings are open and that the CMHA will work in the future to become more accessible to its members. The CMHA will learn from this experience and encourages parents to come to our general meetings as well as our AGM so we can continue to grow and become better. We would like to thank all of the Volunteers, Parents and Youth that continue to contribute to the excellent Minor Hockey experience. This has been a difficult year for many volunteers and now, more than ever, it is important to provide positive feedback for thetimeandenergythesevolunteershaveputforward,includingparentsandcoaches. We are committed to finishing this season on a strong note and appreciate the support of our membership as we close the 2016/17 hockey season.

Cranbrook Minor Hockey Association