File this one under “Parents Who Care Made A Difference.”
A liability waiver on a form that Alaska Association of Basketball Coaches had parents sign was practically an invitation for students to be abused, some parents say. Parents were being asked to sign away their rights to hold responsible anyone involved in the organization for sexual misconduct or abuse of their children.
The form outlined the abuse that parents could not hold the organization responsible for:
“Sexual Misconduct is defined as: ‘any act, including, but not limited to, any verbal, nonverbal, written or electronic communication or physical activity, directed toward or with a child regardless of the age of the child or student that is designated to establish a remanding or sexual relatioship with the child or student. Such acts include, but are not limited to: (1 sexual or romantic invitation; (2) dating or soliciting dates; (3) engaging in sexualized or romantic dialogue; (4) making sexually suggestive comments; (self-disclosure or physical exposure of a sexualized or romantic erotic natures; or (6) any sexual, indecent, romantic or erotic contact with the child or student.”
It wasn’t even in the fine print — the conduct was outlined directly above where parents or guardians were required to sign for their student to take part in the All-Star Games. And it seemed to absolve everyone of all responsibility.
The waiver form caught the attention of some parents, who thought it was out of line. They contacted the AABC organization, created a petition, and then helped the coaches’ group create a form that takes an entirely different — and more stern — approach to the topic sexual abuse and misconduct:
Along with the waiver for accidents and needed medical attention that could occur during the all-star game, the new form says: “Additionally, the Alaska Association of Basketball Coaches takes sexual misconduct and abuse seriously. We have a responsibility to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all participants/helpers. We believe AABC is a sub-classification of the education profession, and as such follow professional standards and practices including mandatory reporting.”
“Sexual misconduct, as defined below will not be tolerated, encouraged, or instigate day the staff or faculty of AABC. Any known, rumored, reported, or witnessed incidents of sexual misconduct will be investigated by the Directors and reported to proper legal authorities. Parents or legal guardians will also be immediately notified,” the form now says. The definitions are the same as the original form.
The Alaska Association of Basketball Coaches has since apologized for the original form, agreeing that it was poorly conceived:
“The Alaska Association of Basketball Coaches regrettably put together a general liability waiver form that was poorly worded. For this, we sincerely apologize. A concerned parent brought this to our attention. In consultation with an attorney, we have edited the form so that the language is more appropriate and understandable. You will find the new form attached. Additionally, in order to host the Senior All-Star game, our liability insurance required us to have a sexual misconduct portion in our release form.T o be clear, our association is run by volunteer coaches/teachers who care deeply for the athletes across the state. Our intent has always been to positively impact the basketball community and protect student-athletes, volunteers, coaches, and board members. Over the past 13 years, we have helped hundreds of student-athletes across the state secure college scholarships. During those 13 years we have never had an incident of any kind. Perception is reality and we understand how some could have perceived this waiver form. Again, we are taking steps to rectify this misunderstanding. We wish to move forward and put the focus back on the student-athlete who deserve this recognition and this moment. We look forward to an incredible All Star game and once again helping student-athletes in the state realize their dreams of playing at the collegiate level,” wrote David Porter, AABC president.
Cate Morris, a parent who took action on the original liability waiver, wrote on Facebook: “I want to say thank you for everyone who called, emailed and petitioned the AABC to rewrite their permission slip/waiver for their All star basketball tournament. I am happy to report that they accepted my amended permission slip and have made it the new slip for their organization. Much thanks to Keenan Morris, for creating the petition and the many friends and community members who made calls and sent emails!! This is a win for parents, students and the AABC!”
Morris was the only parent who didn’t sign the waiver for her student athlete. She took the original waiver, scratched out the things she didn’t agree with, and returned to the organization her edited form, which the group rejected. She then called and spoke to an officer of the organization, “who was very kind,” and explained she could not sign that particular waiver. The group had been using the form for over six years, without a complaint, the woman said.
“As we talked it through I said, I’m not trying to assign any intent to your organization, I don’t think you mean to do any harm,” Morris said. The group emailed to her a different form that coaches sign, which is more clear about the boundaries. Coaches are required to sign a pledge that outlines their own behavior requirements and legal responsibility.
Originally the group told Morris that all the other parents had signed the form, and since she would not sign it, her daughter could not play. That’s when Morris decided to check with parents on Facebook, asking people if they would sign such a waiver. It caught fire on Facebook, and through advocacy on social media, the organization changed direction. They adopted the new permission slip that Morris wrote for them.
The 2022 senior all-star game is scheduled for Grace Christian School on Saturday, at 2 pm, 3:45 pm, 6 pm, and 7:45 pm.