Insurance covers ASD's $12,000 consultant crisis fee
The $12,000 crisis communications contract between the Anchorage School District and a Seattle consulting firm will be covered by an insurance policy, the school district announced Friday.
The district hired Strategies 360 following an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse involving Dimond High School football players during a summer trip to Fairbanks.
Those claims, which Anchorage School Board president Starr Marsett has called “heartbreaking,” ultimately led to the firing of three Dimond football coaches including head coach Bernardo Otero.
When the district announced the contract on Tuesday, it did not disclose having the policy.
"I think everything is above board; I think what we didn't do was we didn't clarify that it was being paid by the insurance company," Marsett said in a phone interview. "I think that we released statements too soon. I know there is a lot of pressure on that."
Marsett said she would not second-guess ASD Superintendent Dr. Deena Bishop on the timing of Friday's disclosure.
"The superintendent does have the ability to make decisions without us right there with her," Marsett said. "But we need to make sure those decisions are prudent. As a board, we just need to get together and talk about some of these things."
Marsett added seeking outside help can be necessary if it means finding more qualified people, even as the district has its own communications staff, but later said:
"I think we probably could have done something in house. That wasn't my call. That was Dr. Bishop's call, and she did what she thought was needed at the time. I do wish the board had been informed sooner of it. We were brought in and told about it -- after the fact.
"That's something I don't like to see. Again, I do have to say, Dr. Bishop does have the freedom to do that, and she did what she thought was best."
On Wednesday, the Anchorage Police Department announced that it closed its investigation in the Dimond allegations and turned over its materials to the Office of Special Prosecutions and Appeals.
Currently, no arrests have been made. Any charges will be handled by prosecutors, police spokesman M.J. Thim said. Because juveniles are involved in the case, authorities cannot discuss specifics.
On August 31, the Anchorage School District announced Dimond's head coach and two assistants were no longer with the team. The coach has since been replaced by Derek Brewer, a former Dimond head coach from 2004 to 2007.
For now, the Strategies 360 contract spans from Aug. 27 to Sept. 27, according to the memorandum. After that, “discussion of a longer-term agreement, if necessary, would follow.”
KTVA requested a copy of the contract on August 31 and was told it was not complete.
The district did not say how long insurance will cover crisis communications costs and if there is a financial cap on the coverage.
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