Superintendent Huyett apologizes to BHS football team

The Yellowjackets are now ranked in the top 20, despite playing all games away and having no weight room

Last week’s sudden closure of Berkeley High’s Old Gym puzzled and angered many student athletes and their supporters. Last night, at the Berkeley Unified School District board meeting, Superintendent Bill Huyett apologized for the disruption, but said that his decision was forced by the unsafe condition of the building.

“We do recognize the problems that have been put upon the [football] team,” Huyett said. “I don’t think anybody wanted this to happen, especially in this way. It happened very clearly out of a lack of information on my part.”

Huyett said that he had spoken to the BHS football team and coaches after practice on Wednesday to apologize.

The superintendent was responding at the school board meeting to Richard Boyden, a parent of a current member of the Yellowjackets.

“There has been a real facilities meltdown,” Boyden said. In addition to the closure of the Old Gym, where the team stored equipment and had a weights room, the bleachers at Berkeley High were closed several weeks ago. As a result, the team lacks training facilities and is forced to play its home games on the road.

“There’s been an amazing amount of disruption,” Boyden said. “Going forward, we’d like to see some accountability for all this. We don’t want to point fingers and assign blame. We’re all very, very angry. But the way to heal this situation is for you, the district, to figure out why wasn’t there a communications plan in place. Why didn’t you figure out that this might be a contingency and plan for it? These kids are very tough and they can take a lot of adversity. What they can’t take is the surprises and turmoil.”

“We could have communicated much better than we did,” Huyett admitted. “I just wasn’t aware of the use by the football team. But we have to ensure we have the highest level of safety for the students.”

Huyett said several container units had been brought in today, to allow for some storage of equipment. For the last week, football players have been taking their equipment home after practice. Despite talk in the last week that other teams affected by the closure — particularly wrestling and rowing — would rally at the board meeting, football was the only one represented last night.

“The board and I should have dealt with this long ago,” Huyett said.

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  • Shutterbuggery

    Boyden said.. “Going forward, we’d like to see some accountability for all this. We don’t want to point fingers and assign blame. ”
    Seems like he wants it both ways.. find a scapegoat and then don’t follow thru. 

  • Jax


  • Completely Serious

    The BUSD could have an entire session devoted to apologies.  

  • Anonymous

    How could the Superintendent not know that the football team used the Gym?  And, hello, a little communication ahead of time could have gone a long way.  Waiting until you are confronted about it at a public meeting isn’t the way a leader should deal with this kind of thing, nor is it very classy.

  • Richard Boyden

    Very nice article, Lance.  Thank you.  Just one very small correction, the error is probably my fault, but we did have at least one other sport represented, Baseball.  They chose not to speak, that’s all.
    Go Jackets!
    PS to the other commenters:  Thanks for you comments!  I want to say that blame and accountability are not the same.  Apology is the first step to taking responsibility, and that is the first step on the road to finding out what went wrong and how we fix or organization so that we don’t repeat our mistakes.  This road is long.  We have a long way to go.

  • Susabella

    How does holding the person responsible for the decision equal making him a scapegoat? Huyett is the Superintendent, was seriously behind in his information, and, lacking a cohesive plan, made a snap decision that caused a lot of grief for many, many people.

    As far as not following thru, I don’t get it – Boyden is a concerned parent who stood for many of us in his comments, and while he wanted to make it clear that we, the community, are very upset about what did and didn’t happen, he also said he wanted solutions. 

  • Henrik Bull

    Superintendent Huyett knew of the possible seismic hazard condition of the old gym over a year ago.  I spoke with him at the BUSD booth at the 2010 Solano Stroll.  At that time I was still hopeful that the school board would reconsider their decision to demolish the landmarked old gym and warm water swimming pool.  Mr. Huyett said that he understood that the building was unsafe.  I pointed out that in 2008 I had made studies showing that the old gym could accommodate the entire program of the proposed new gym, classrooms and field house.   I had written an article in Berkeleyside (January19, 2010), describing this study with diagrammatic plans, including seismic strengthening to current standards  .  Huyett cut off the conversation saying that the school Board had made up its mind to demolish the building because of their understanding of  the seismic hazard.

  • libraterian

    BHS’s Alfred Wilright, Operations Manager supervises maintenance. 

    For two years, parents on the soccer and lacrosse teams begged for his help with the dangerous condition of the stands (floor boards missing, handrails down), erratic field lighting, filthy or locked restrooms for spectators and a humiliating, inoperative scoreboard. He was persistently unresponsive.

    The stench from blocked plumbing and mildew in parts of the old gym gagged you at times. And we’re handing this guy the new buildings to maintain?!

    Come on Pasquale, manage a little.

  • Native Cal

    Huyett is involved in pure spin; wouldn’t have apologized until a rightfully irate parent spoke up.  He’s engaged in pure damage control.  Remember the Berkeley School for the Deaf; hundreds of folks uprooted and moved to the Central Valley cause the buildings were “unsafe” for children.  It’s now the Clark Kerr Campus and lots of “kids” are around it.  A seismic land grab.  Ran into Berkeley High’s Women’s Crew Coach; they got booted too; no place to use “ergo” machines.  This after they were booted by BORP from their very nice Berkeley Estuary facilities by an over involved City Council that didn’t even ask who was there using the property.  Under the fey liberalism of the city is a kind of arrogance that Huyett represents that determines what’s right and doesn’t communicate or listen; pits non profits against each other; doesn’t bother to seek out users (Football team) to understand implications of of actions.  Berkeley students deserve better; where are the Florence McDonalds that put the brakes on these people and shamed them into compliance.  I say dump the guy; it will only get worse.  He’s shown his true colors.  A decent Administrator would have, at minimum, met with the coaches and team reps and worked out a meaningful transition plan (containers brought in asap; etc) and not caused all this anxiety and angst.  Forget about his “only protecting the children” line; I’ve lived here all my life and we all live under the threat of the big one; the “old” gym has survived some large number quakes already.  For this guy to suddenly find a very old report he was “unaware of” under his pile of papers and shoot from both hips is the action of a unfeeling administrator; he’s not safe to be making calls when it comes to the lives of kids.  

  • libraterian

    But Huyett doesn’t enjoy the spotlight enough to intentionally bring these moments on himself. From what I can see there is no facilities management at BHS. Sure, the floors are shiny and the kids restrooms get cleaned. but that’s the union custodial staff that has been around forever. And they probably do it better when our ‘facilities manager’ is on vacation. 
    No, it’s things like the bleachers and the old gym that have been put in the “…well were replacing them soon so why bother keeping them up” category. “SOON” has stretched into FOUR YEARS and no one showed up to pound a few nails into the missing floor boards in the stands.

    And what’s CRUELLY STUPID is BHS’s admin (Scuderi. Wilright…who?) decision to get rid of the almost new aluminum bleachers on the east side of the field rather than move them fifty yards west. I don’t want a scape goat, I want accountability and disciplinary action. 

    “…fey liberalism…” beautiful! 

  • Raiders910

    Boyden was there ,were you ?

  • Raiders910

    Superintendent Huyett apologizes OMG!!! ,
     That’s what BUSD and BCC always  do is to apologizes for NOT doing there home work and THERE JOBS !!! ,  lack of accountability ,lack of information , NO  communication skills, Sounds just like ——————-

  • Maureen Burke

    An article on today’s Op-Ed page of NY Times has a sentence that aptly describes the endless mismanagement saga of BUSD:

    “Perpetual crisis management contributes to confusion, waste and overall ineffectiveness.”

  • Ted

    “We could have communicated much better than we did,” Huyett admitted. “I just wasn’t aware of the use by the football team.”

    Could have communicated at all – is more like it.