Community members packed the Wilton High School Professional Library for the \u00a0Board of Education\u2019s March 10 meeting. Wilton High School Athletic Director Chris McDougal was on the agenda to address concerns among parents of student-athletes regarding the high school department\u2019s procedures, but many parents continued to feel his leadership was lacking. Background Kyle Lauricella, whose daughter is a senior and member of the girls soccer team at Wilton High School, voiced her concerns about the athletic department to the board back in November, saying the department and school principal \u201cwere asked to address and explain several issues from several different sports,\u201d including complaints from junior varsity and varsity girls soccer players and their parents. Lauricella said she and her husband, as well as at least four other families, attempted to \u201cwork through them by bringing them to the attention of the administration, but received \u201clittle to no response.\u201d \u201cOther than cursory emails acknowledging receipt of the written complaints and questions, there has been no follow up, no policy or procedure change or implementation, no explanation and no accountability,\u201d she said. \u201cThere doesn\u2019t seem to be a desire on the part of the administration to make any improvements or changes.\u201d In addition to examples of the varsity soccer coach\u2019s disregard for the \u201csafety, mental and emotional health\u201d of the players, Lauricella said, she provided the administration with examples of \u201cthe principal and the athletic director using deceitful and bullying tactics against student-athletes in order to further their agenda, to cover up and protect their behavior, and avoid accountability and responsibility.\u201d The \u201cmost glaring example of this,\u201d said Lauricella, was when McDougal \u201ctook the captaincy away\u201d from her daughter and another student-athlete. The outgoing soccer coach announced team captains, said Lauricella, but McDougal \u201cignored the wishes of the team and coach and announced a revote would take place.\u201d \u201cHe included all players on the freshman and junior varsity teams \u2014 most of whom did not know the varsity players and had never been on the field with them \u2014 to vote on varsity captains,\u201d she said. \u201cThis has never happened before.\u201d Lauricella\u2019s daughter was voted captain again, but the other student-athlete was not and \u201csubsequently left the team midway through the season,\u201d said Lauricella. Lauricella said McDougal told her the student didn\u2019t \u201cdeserve to be captain\u201d and showed \u201cfavoritism over achievement\u201d by choosing a third player to be a captain. \u201cThis was the beginning of a series of bad events brought on by the reckless and irresponsible actions of Mr. McDougal,\u201d said Lauricella. \u201cThese actions taken by the coach, principal and athletic director are in direct conflict with the Wilton High School Athletics Department mission statement and the Wilton High School vision statement \u2014 not to mention the FCIAC and CIAC rules and guidelines.\u201d Lauricella said she was most disappointed and discouraged by \u201cthe dismissive attitude, the indifference and the unwillingness to address the problems and complaints presented to the administration\u201d regarding the athletics department. \u201cThe frustration among athletic families in town is rampant,\u201d she said in November. \u201cThere are Wilton families who have issues with the football program, lacrosse program, gymnastics program and the soccer program, just to name a few.\u201d \u201cThe disdain and contempt the administration has demonstrated for the parents and students in Wilton that dare to ask questions and bring up issues is nothing short of remarkable.\u201d McDougal\u2019s plan During the education board\u2019s March 10 meeting, McDougal presented a plan to \u201cframe and address\u201d these concern and \u201cdetermine where improvements are needed,\u201d which included a \u201cprocess of continuous improvement through community involvement and partnership.\u201d \u201cIn light of concerns brought before the Wilton Board of Education,\u201d McDougal said, \u201cthe athletic department has been conducting a review of current standard operating procedures (SOPs).\u201d McDougal said he has not only been developing procedures over the past several months to \u201chelp guide the decisions\u201d made within the department, but has also identified several \u201cimportant areas that require SOPs for the optimal functioning of the athletic department\u201d \u2014 including, but not limited to, communication protocols with families and procedures for resolving conflicts \u2014 which will be operational for the 2016-17 school year. Parents at the March 10 meeting, including Lauricella, weren\u2019t buying it. McDougal, who has been the director of the athletic department since March 2013, said the department\u2019s goal is to \u201ccreate a Wilton HIgh School Interscholastic Athletics Vision Statement that is aligned with and supportive of the district and high school vision statements.\u201d This, he said, will be done through the formation of a Wilton High School Athletics Steering Committee, comprised of student-athletes, coaches, parents, community members and himself. The committee will \u201cdevelop a new vision statement and revise the core values for Wilton High School Interscholastic Athletics,\u201d according to McDougal, and \u201clook at all policies and procedures and ensure high quality standards for all stakeholders involved in athletics.\u201d Parent response During public comment, Wilton parent Joe Eagan said McDougal\u2019s plan is \u201cprobably the most empty rhetoric I have ever heard in my life.\u201d \u201cAfter nine years in professional sports,\u201d Eagan said, \u201cI can tell you that nothing gets run by a steering committee. This is ridiculous.\u201d Joe Prinner, another Wilton parent, said McDougal\u2019s plan lacks leadership and accountability. \u201cI don\u2019t know who owns this program and I don\u2019t see any leadership in solving it,\u201d he said. \u201cI know what the students are going to do. I know what the parents are going to do. I know what the coaches are supposed to do [but] I don\u2019t know what the athletic director is going to do, because there\u2019s nothing in that plan that says he\u2019s going to do anything.\u201d Prinner pointed out how the high school\u2019s basketball program had a steering committee under McDougal\u2019s direction in 2013-14, and one of its roles was to \u201calert the coaches of any issues brewing among a sizable portion of our constituency.\u201d \u201cTo me, that means that it\u2019s an early warning system on how to hide issues,\u201d he said. Prinner said implementing a steering committee is not a solution, given the fact that the basketball program\u2019s former committee \u201cfailed before under McDougal\u2019s direction.\u201d \u201cDo we think this athletic director has the leadership to implement a plan that can address the issues when the issues aren\u2019t talked about?\u201d he said. Lauricella questioned how McDougal can \u201cframe and address the concerns that have been raised and determine where improvements are needed when he\u2019s demonstrated a severe lack of good judgment and humility?\u201d \u201cEverybody knows that a leader has to have humility in order to change, and I don\u2019t see it,\u201d she said. \u201cI don\u2019t know where this memo gets us.\u201d Lauricella also questioned McDougal\u2019s \u201ccommitment to developing skilled student-athletes and teams when he received several warnings from parents about the behavior and lack of development by the [former] girls soccer team coach.\u201d \u201cThose warnings and concerns were dismissed with indifference, if not malice, while he supported a coach who just recently \u2018resigned.\u2019\u201d she said. Lauricella provided the education board with a list of questions regarding the athletic director and his department, which Board of Education Chair Bruce Likly said will be reviewed and answered at a later date. Click here to read McDougal\u2019s plan.