Injustice in the RECF (448X)

I am one of the parents of 448 xEcho. I have to correct some of the things said by Mr. Mantz . His carefully worded responses leaves out some very important facts:

  1. States at Damien High School . The kids were not allowed to protest the call, they were not even informed of the call, they had thought they won. They did win 22-9. However the head ref( who had just graduated from Damien High School a year or two before), instead grabbed the microphone- there were announcers who had been announcing the entire day- and gleefully announced he was DQ the team for pinning and then announced their score. The kids were shocked. So they asked to speak to the head ref and he herded them into a corner.
  2. By all accounts, including my personal knowledge and all the evidence that we have been provided , there was no disrespect from 448x, Where they shocked, of course, especially the way the ref handled it.
    3 After the event, the ref was bragging that he had DQ an “entire red alliance” last year and if anyone continued to question his call, he had the power to make sure 448x did not win any awards at Worlds.
  3. Parents who were there wanted to lodge a complaint against this ref and asked his name, he refused to give is as did the event partners when they were asked.

Despite this, one of the representatives from 448 x met with the head ref and apologized and things seemed fine.

  1. On March 4, 2019 without any warning, an email was sent to the coach of 448s with a heading DQ from Worlds. It was from Tarek and contained allegations that the team had posted “harrassing and egregious messages” online after the event. This was false. The 448x coach asked to see the posts so he could take disciplinary action against the offending team. The posts were never shown to the team or the coach. Tarek was very hostile. No one from 448x or anyone else for that matter was consulted or asked what happened before this punitive action was taken.
  2. Without really knowing what they were being accused of, the team wanted to mend fences, not break them, and they issued a formal letter of apology , very heartfelt to Damien High school event partner.
  3. The team chose to try and work things out with Vex and contacted Dan Mantz, instead of posting immediately on the forum. They wanted to try and resolve this without having to make all this public.
  4. The team offered to fly to meet Mr Mantz, to answer any questions he had, show them their evidence and again apologized. The parents supported this and were ready to take their kids to meet Mantz.
  5. Mr. Mantz refused to consider their evidence. He refused to meet with the kids.
  6. The team persisted, all they wanted to was to get their spot, back which they had earned at GOOGLE weeks before, and had earned again at States,
  7. They continued to ask to see the alleged evidence and posts so they could respond. They were denied this request over and over. How can they defend themselves without knowing who was attacking them .
  8. The kids sent in their packet of evidence, including the apology letter, and statements from various coaches and team members, some of whom were afraid to identify themselves for fear of retaliation from Vex, which as a parent, causes me such great concern.
  9. The kids hoped that once they shared their evidence, Vex would do the same. However, instead, they were told that the only way they could see the evidence against them is if their school administration was involved. The coach informed Vex they were not affiliated with a school ( as they had gone independent a year before). The ex-coach of their prior team was the one who instigated the complaint against them in the first place.
  10. The kids, still wanted to work this our informally and see the evidence against them so they could respond and hopefully get back to Worlds which they had earned .
  11. The first question from Dan Mantz had in this phone call was not about what happened, it was
    “Why did you leave the school team?” Why would that be the question he was asking the kids in front of their principal. Wonderfully enough, the principal responded with a great answer and told Mr Mantz he supported the kids decision and they were fantastic bright kids . The School principal encourage Mr. Mantz not to take the punitive action of banning the kids from worlds.
  12. Mr. Mantz responded that Tarek and Nancy in California would be extremely shocked that the principal of the school was advocating for the kids. ( i.e the reason for bringing in the principal was Not transparency-whatever that is- but to threaten the kids from continuing to pursue their challenges and request for evidence by bringing in the school principal-who had no purpose in this issue at all). This same ploy had been used last year by California Contingency when they DQ several other teams allegedly violating G1 and then called their school to spread accusations against the kids in retaliation. It didnt work this year. The kids were not deterred by the threat by Vex that they would not show this “undisclosed evidence” unless and until the school administrator was involved.
  13. The Principal then had a discussion with Steven from San Jose, who then said he would refer to Tarek, who had the final word.
  14. When our kids qualified for Worlds at Google, we parents all purchased round trip tickets ( non refundable for out kids and our families). This has all caused great harm to us and our kids.
    Please dont say get over it and move on.
    These kids worked every day in the summer in 100 degree temperatures in a warehouse with no air conditioning to get to where they were. It was just them, no corporate sponsors,no big school behind them, which is why Vex does not want them to succeed.
    What if all our kids break off into independent teams, the school money goes away. The volunteers go away, Vex would actually have to pay for referees and locations to hold independent fair competitions.

My hope and request to all parents and to Vex:

  1. I am hoping that Vex will stop bullying children into being afraid to speak up. Look at the last line of the CEO’s post, he will “shut it down” the post down if he wants. I wish that Vex would use the millions of dollars that they collect from all of us to hire professional referees who are impartial and to hold their events at impartial locations. This should not happen to any other child who works so hard for the love of robotics and is disappointed and worse loses their passion for robotics because Vex is designed only to make money, and to do that, the use " volunteers" who are either parents of students competing, friends or past team mates of kids competing. The events are held at “host schools” hosted by parents of teams competing.
    This all lends itself to “volunteers” who are not trained professionals, who are not fair and impartial ( who can be when it comes to your lovely child or best friend) who make decisions and have absolutely no accountability. Not only that, Vex very seriously threatens anyone who questions a volunteer. They can do whatever they want with absolutely no regulation or respect for the children and they know it.
    I pray for all the kids who love robotics that this changes.

To the parents:
Support your children, don’t do what I did and blindly turn my money over to Vex every year and never question the fact that they do not hire anyone independent to referee,. Even my peeway baseball kids had a paid independent referee. Yet Vex makes millions of dollars every year,. Insist that Vex hire referees who know the game and how to interact with kids. Insist that Vex hold its events at public locations, not schools where the parents and best friends of one team are the “event partners” .
Insist that Vex provide rules and regulations to the referees ( if they refuse to hire professionals referees or paid independent referees ) and hold the referees accountable to be respectful to the kids.
Insist that Vex have a “no retaliation policy” so that kids are not threatened, bullied and afraid to speak up for fear of being accused of violating “G1”
And if you want to find a kinder gentler place where kids like ours on 448x can love robotics and feel free to speak out… keep in touch with 448x echo new and exciting things are coming…
Mom out…

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I did not ask that Mr. Mantz in particular review the evidence. In fact, I think that it would have been ideal for him not have had to be involved at all. I was (and am) disturbed that a team was punished without any chance to show their side of the story, and was prevented from properly doing so for over 2 weeks by multiple people in the RECF.

As analogy, suppose a Judge has a hearing on the same day as a very important event that he absolutely must attend. He listens to the argument of the prosecutor, and then realizes that he must leave soon to make it to the event. The right thing to do is to postpone his judgement on the case until a later time, when he has had a chance to hear both sides and can make a fair and informed decision. What has happened here is the judge, running out of time, hastily decided against the defendants. The defendants were then forced to spend the next two weeks trying to get the attention of officials that the trial had not been properly conducted and to get an appeal through.

This is not how dues process works. If there is not enough time to review the evidence, the judgement should be postponed.

In the above analogy, would you not be disturbed if you were a member of the same community as the defendant, with the knowledge that you may one day have to go before that same judge?

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Hey man. I see your point.

But this is a private company. You are not garunteed due process

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I said the same thing earlier. Be it moral, immoral, just, or unjust, the RECF can do whatever they want. They are not bound by rules to be fair. They’re money, their competition, their decision.

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Indeed. This is the very intention of this thread: to caution people about the power of RECF when dealing with RECF in the future.

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I don’t think we are accomplishing anything here. It sounds like there may be some personal grudges envolved and the RECF was simply brought into the middle of this. Weather they intended to be or not.

I do wish we had independent refs but that bottleneck would cause issues.

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I have heard this argument many places, and I have to say, I really, really dislike it.

I don’t care that the RECF is a private organization. I don’t care if they are not legally obligated to provide a worlds spot to 448X. I don’t care if they are not legally obligated to provide due process.

What I do care about is what is right and ethical. The RECF is ethically obligated to go through due process before making a judgement against a team, just as you and I are ethically obligated to listen to both sides of this issue before making a judgement for ourselves. I believe this to be true regardless of whether 448X was justly or unjustly prohibited from attending worlds.

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This isn’t like living in a country where you have next to no choice but stay here and interact in public.

In that case we have some mostly fair and mostly followed set of rules.

No one’s forcing you to play robots here. You aren’t obligated to much.

Yes it would be nice to expect that, but I don’t see how the RECF as a whole did not give a fair hearing here.

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Lets be clear here VEX is a company that makes awesome parts.

The Robot Education Foundation RECF is a NON PROFIT that runs the events.

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I’ll just fix that for you :wink:

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I was going to respond to this but I believe @sazrocks already did.

I’d direct you to my eariler response:

I’m trying to remain neutral with respect to this particular issue (i.e. the 448X worlds disqualification), however I still believe that the RECF should do more to engage with the community. Not because I think they’re legally obligated to, but because I believe it would be best for both the RECF and the community as a whole.

Ditto.

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OK
Vex parent company Innovation First International makes and sells you all the parts at over inflated prices.
Vex “runs” the competition through a “non profit” REC that makes millions of dollars a year and YES they have an obligation when they use a Non Profit Educational Status to follow the law and allow due process and they owe an obligation as a “nonproft” making over $13 a year, its in their annual report… to give all kids the best, meaning real independent referees and independent locations, yes that will cut into their $13million a year … which pales in comparison to the $55mil a year the parent company makes…

I don’t understand needing independent locations. Yes it would be great to have independently trained reffs I agree. although in practice you would find that the same people would be doing it but they would be paid.

Almost every school sport is hosted at a school’s gym and there is a home team. Not everyone can afford to have an independent team, without hosting a couple competitions my program wouldn’t exist.

I understand you are upset. But for us to have everything you are asking for it would cost far more than that 13million, and instead of those registration fees going to team to support their robotics education, the RECF hosting events would just send more money to this company.

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I am not a lawyer, but to the best of my knowledge, being a 501 charitable organization in no way legally obligates the RECF to use any particular rules or procedures in dealing with referee rulings, or any other issues. That’s a taxation status relating to how the RECF receives and uses money, and essentially nothing more.

I agree with you here. I do think having a better training system for refs would be nice, and I know that’s been mentioned here and in every other similar thread, but at the end of the day I still stand by my suggestion of creating a documented process for dealing with the appeals that will inevitably happen anyway.

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Trust me when I say that you don’t make money running Worlds.

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You mention this $13 million dollar a year figure twice, and I’m not sure of our source. Here is the Aug 2017 990 form. It shows a loss of $159,094. (Only $8 million total coming in)
Aug 2017 RECF 990 Form (Public information, as they are a non-profit.)
I’m not saying this subtracts from your point, I’m just curious where you got this number.

Additionally, only government entities are required to follow the constitution, if that is what you are referring to as “due process”. It could potentially be violating a completely separate law for protecting consumers (since in this case, you bought registration, so you are technically a consumer of the RECF). I’m not a lawyer, I couldn’t tell you about any of those laws.

I agree we should expect this from a company, but they are not technically required to, as far as I know.

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I didn’t want to comment on this thread earlier, because I didn’t know enough background information to contribute anything useful to the conversation.

I would like to thank @Robomom3 for providing enough information for me to make up my mind.

How much would it cost to fly entire team to meet with @DanMantz?

I am still stunned and not sure what to say.

VRC is just a game. Silly game to trick kids into learning valuable interpersonal, project management, and STEM skills, but not much more than that.

I hope it is obvious to anyone that it is not sustainable for REFC to operate, if the issues like this keep escalating all the way to the top.

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This stood out to me too. Esp when this person had just complained about money sunk on flights.

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I’m not exactly sure what point you and @TheColdedge are trying to make. Could one of you by any chance elaborate?

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If you got the money to blow for several kids to fly to Texas with chaperones (presumably), to maybe get a decision overturned. Money sunk to fly to Kentucky probably isn’t that big of a hurt. usually you don’t pay for hotels in advance, and typically flights can be refunded … sooo idk its fishy

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