As many of you will recall, there was a very visible and heated discussion last March regarding the season DQ of a VEX Robotics team. One of the outcomes of the forum conversation was that I agreed that the REC Foundation would review the season disqualification process and make changes to be more transparent. Steve Rummell, Sr. Regional Support Manager, led the internal RECF project team to review, improve and document the process. Steve and his team created the REC Foundation Rules and Conduct Violations Resolution Process flow chart linked below.
Please note that in a continuous effort to be more transparent and to get feedback from the REC Foundation / VEX Robotics community, we are posting this document for public review. I ask everyone to review and give their honest feedback but to also be respectable to the REC Foundation and to others that may have opposing views. Please provide any feedback by November 4, 2019. You can email your comments directly to me or post on this thread.
Thank you Dan for this effort, like the Student-centered policy, I believe it will serve all. A couple of things that do stand out:
Is the party that submitted the complaint notified about next steps of the process?
Will the complaining part be notified about resolution?
What about complaints about the EP or other volunteer conduct? (I think teams would like conduct to extend to all at events, and yes, I have had my moments of regret.)
What happens if the primary contact is not a qualified adult (this needs to be made clear that it must be a person older than 18 and not in HS for MS and HS teams) and the team refuses to provide a qualified adult contact? Will the team be dropped from the season until they do so? or will RECF believe it appropriate to contact the team’s affiliated organization, e.g., high school they are attending, and negotiate with that organization’s leadership.
The latter point is important as some districts have strict code of conduct that may cause academic standing issues (honor society etc.).
I don’t compete in VEX any more but I still take an interest in the program. I appreciate this effort to create a formalized procedure. That said, where any procedure is created, edge cases must be considered. @lacsap brings up a good point:
In many cases I know there are homeschooled students or independent teams that are entirely student-run (and VEX’s initiative has been to encourage student-centered programs, which I also understand). That said, I understand how dealing with minors could be more complicated than legal adults. In the cases of most homeschooled teams, you absolutely could insist on speaking to a parent, however there is still the technically-possible although entirely unlikely case that you may wish to impose discipline on a team that consists entirely of emancipated minors who have no school affiliation as far as their team (or more likely one, competing alone). Once again, the likelihood of this is minuscule, but it’s worth planning for if you’re going to make a flow chart.
Otherwise, I would also be curious what would happen in @lacsap’s hypothetical in which students refuse to let you talk to adults (if they have a highly independent team). Also, I would be interested to hear if you would insist on talking to an “adult” even if the student on the team was 18 or 19.
Thanks for the effort and transparency, it goes a long way.
Thank you so much for all the effort you have been putting towards ensuring a trust between competitors and Event Partners. I absolutely love this document and I believe it is going to be very useful to have a document that continuously reminds competitors about their rights within the competition. Seriously, thank you Dan!
It would be useful to provide an org chart. I looked on the RECF website and couldn’t readily find it. For example, it would be useful to know who is in the Rules and Conduct Committee and where they sit in the RECF heirarchy.
The first step in the process may introduce some potential conflict of interest if the RSM is a party in the potential violation. There should be a way to have an independent (non-conlficted) person perform the initial investigation if the RSM is a party to, witness of, or victim of the violation. If the local RSM is a party to the violation, then possibly have an RSM from a nearby area conduct the initial investigation. (One of the first steps should be whether the RSM has a conflict of interest in the investigation).
When (or does) the RECF legal counsel get involved in any step in the process? If so, that should be stated.
I would suggest stronger wording in the first note. More like: “All teams must be represented by an adult. If a team is unable or unwilling to provide an adult contact, the team will not be allowed to participate in any RECF events in the future.”
I might depcit the process a little differently - more like a “use case” than a flow chart. The process should have all the actors (RSM, team, DORO, witnesses, etc) and show their actions. Currently, the only “actors” that are explicitly depicted with actions are RECF employees. The team in question should also be explicitly depicted as an “actor” in this flow (think use case). For example, instead of having the block that starts “Following a review of …” the figure should show the team and state that they are providing (output) a response to the allegations. Let me know if you want some examples of a use case.
Overall, I think I would expect a litte more detailed flow chart.
Lastly, to validate this flow chart, you can see how closely it matches the past instances of this.
Thank you Dan & the rest of the REC Foundation team for taking this initiative. I second a lot of the existing comments, in particular requiring clarification for the cases of minors (for both school-based and independent teams). As VRC is a student-centered program, I’d assume that, while the adult mentor/coach may act as an intermediary between students and the REC Foundation, students would be expected to defend their own actions in most cases. Additionally, I think the REC Foundation should seek to avoid causing additional penalties (such as the academic standing concerns mentioned by @lacsap) in handling these cases.
One other aspect that has not yet been mentioned is privacy and transparency with regards to individual cases. While I hope that having a formal, published process will improve the professionalism and confidence on the part of teams during any time where a conduct violation occurs, it is inevitable that, sooner or later, there is another team that strongly and sincerely disagrees with the REC Foundation regarding the resolution of a disagreement, and said team decides to bring their concerns to the community, for example by way of a post on this forum. Despite this document’s existence, I’d expect that at least a few prominent members of the community would demand more information from the REC Foundation regarding the case. So, if/when this happens, how much of the information and resolution, if any, would the REC Foundation make public? Should this be published proactively in some cases (for example, when a sanction is deemed necessary)? Does it depend on the type of violation and/or sanction?
Once again, thank you for your continue effort to improve transparency and accountability within the REC Foundation.
Thanks for the feedback so far. I do not plan to respond to every question / comment on this or the FB Coaches thread but will review all comments and suggestions with Steve after the review period ends on November 4.