By Karen Billing
Torrey Pines High School parents were recently successful in lobbying for the reinstatement of their athletic trainer Christina Scherr. The San Dieguito Union High School District contracts out for its school athletic trainers and Scherr had been released by contractor Rehab United over the summer. Parents spoke out in support of Scherr, whom they believed to be a valuable and trusted member of the athletic program.
At the Sept. 4 San Dieguito Union High School District board meeting, Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Eric Dill reported that the district had worked with Rehab United to offer Scherr her position back.
Dill said that on Sept. 3 he met with parent members of the Torrey Pines High School and La Costa Canyon Foundations, Torrey Pines High School Principal David Jaffe, several coaches, and Bryan Hill, the owner of Rehab United.
“It was an opportunity for Mr. Hill to hear directly the concerns the parents had. The conversation was very lively,” Dill said.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Dill met with Jaffe and Hill, and Hill indicated that after hearing the parents’ voices he was open to reinstating Scherr.
“Our head football coach Ron Gladnick was adamant in his support for Christina. Parents whose children had been treated by Christina over the years inundated the trustees, the district and the school with supportive emails,” said parent Tim Pickwell. “For now it appears that our concerns have been addressed and a well-respected member of the Falcon athletic community is going to be rehired. We’re very pleased.”
According to Dill, the district and Rehab United are still working on some contract details and possibly removing some items from the contract that had been of concern to the parents.
The funds to pay the trainers come from the Torrey Pines High School Foundation boosters and the district outsources the trainer contracts. One big parental concern was that the district has never informed them that athletic trainers are contractually obligated to refer injured athletes to Rehab United.
The athletic trainer contract with Rehab United includes an item on referrals, reading “in the event an injury screen or referral to physical therapy is necessary or advisable, the athletic trainer certified independent contractor will support Rehab United and refer students to the nearest Rehab United facility.”
The contract states that Rehab United will pay the trainer 15 percent for referrals of certain services.
At the San Dieguito Union High School District (SDUHSD) board’s August meeting, parent Carrie Pickwell said she would be appalled if anyone handed her a business card at the school.
“It is highly unethical,” she said.
At the August meeting, Dill said parents should be able to go and seek any treatment for their children as they deem appropriate and that they district always suggests treatment begins with the family’s personal physician.
SDUHSD Trustee Amy Herman said the referrals shouldn’t be so prescripted and perhaps some disclosure was warranted.
“The whole experience did educate many of us to the nuts-and-bolts of how athletic trainers are hired and managed in the district,” Tim Pickwell said.
Pickwell suggested that the district convene a meeting with athletic directors, trainers, coaches and assess the best way to deliver athletic training services, study how other districts do it and whether SDUHSD’s contracts should be adjusted.
Dill said that it is a good idea because the level of service has changed since they began the athletic trainer program, including the scope of services, the size of the athletic programs and a dramatic increase in the number of athletes they were serving.
He said the district would take a fresh look at the program, much like it is doing with the enrollment at the academies.
Several parents said they were told not to attend the Sept. 4 SDUHSD board meeting to discuss the Scherr issue as a resolution was close.
During public comment, Mo Muir, a candidate for the SDUHSD board, said she was glad the district met with parents but she felt it would’ve been more appropriate to have had a larger forum, such as a community meeting, where more parents could attend. She reiterated the need for the district to continue looking into the athletic trainer contracts.