LYNNFIELD — Parents of children in the Lynnfield Youth Football and Cheerleading program have upped the ante in their efforts to gain a voice in the governance and management of their organization.
Two identified parents put a petition on line at the change.org site accusing the league’s board of directors of having a meeting that effectively denied them any say in how the organization is run. It demands, among other things, the inclusion of parents as voting members of LYFC. The petition charges that ongoing efforts by parents to have representation on the board have been rebuffed.
Attempts to speak with league president Wayne Shaffer for comment Tuesday night were not successful.
According to an email circulated last weekend, the petition has 233 signatures to date. There are approximately 260 children in the program. That number is more than double the goal of 100, as stated in a notice of the petition that was circulated in the email.
The petition is called “Lynnfield Youth Football and Cheerleading Board of Directors: Demand for Change: Include Parents and Coaches as Voting Members of LYFC.” Its authors hope to “encourage the current board to operate with full, honest transparency and recognize parents as major stakeholders that deserve a voice in the organization.”
The email also made it clear that “If we do not get the action we are seeking from the current board, the petition can be used to support any other efforts we may undertake.”
The petition states that “the undersigned individuals believe that the current LYFC Board of Directors is unfairly excluding coaches and parents of registered participants from being recognized as LYFC members, thus not allowing them to participate or vote on matters concerning the LYFC program.”
The demands call for the amendment of “the LYFC by-laws to allow for parent and coach participation and voting rights;” that the board “communicate regularly and openly with all LYFC interested parties about any proposed changes in operating procedures or corporate governance;” and that LYFC “conduct a properly noticed annual meeting as soon as possible to effectuate the requested changes.”
The petition comes approximately two weeks after LYFC’s efforts to conduct a second annual meeting in August ended in controversy, confusion and another WBZ-TV I-Team report that delved into recent actions of LYFC board members. The report also highlighted the ongoing frustration among parents who say their efforts to have a voice in the conduct of the LYFC program have gone unheard.
Parents arrived at a meeting Aug. 30 only to learn that the board, without their knowledge, had, on Aug. 14, amended the existing bylaws of the organization. Some parents, who were allowed entry to the annual meeting on Aug. 7 were stunned when they were denied entry to the Aug. 30 meeting because of a bylaw amendment that redefined membership in the organization as limited to several groups, none of which included parents. The LYFC board ended the meeting without conducting an election, leaving the current board intact, without any representation from parents with children in the program.
However, an election had been held at the Aug. 7 annual meeting and four new directors were voted into office by a majority of persons in attendance — namely parents who have children in the program. The board, however, determined that it had not given notice of the meeting in accordance with its own bylaws, then used its own actions in giving defective notice to its advantage to nullify the election citing improper notice. Two weeks later, the board amended its bylaws, failing to include parents as members of the organization.
Several people who signed the petition shared their reasons for signing.
One supporter wrote, “The board’s behavior is unfathomable and an embarrassment to the community.”
Another supporter wrote that she is “embarrassed for our community” and that “the current board has lost focus it’s for the youth of our town not egos, greed or pride. Sheer ignorance on their part.”
A third supporter wrote, “I signed this petition because the parents of the children participating in youth football deserve to have their voices heard. It seems like a “no-brainer” unless that is the people running Lynnfield youth football have something to hide.”
One supporter questioned why LYFC continues to oppose parent representation when a majority of parents support it.
“Parents should be the most important voices. Why would the members of this board, who have no children in the program, continuously fight against the majority opinion of the parents? I can only surmise that what we would find out is far worse than the abuse they are enduring.”
Another supporter said he was signing the petition “because the current board has not followed their own by-laws for at least the last 5 years. Not one single board member head any active children in the program. While I appreciate the work that has been done by some of the individuals on the board, it is time to bring on new parents with children in the program.”
The petition also stated that, “the organizers of this petition reserve the right to share this petition with the Cape Ann Youth Football League (CAYFL) and with any other entity that may be in a position to promote the changes sought herein.”
The petition can be accessed on line at http://chn.ge/2x4pdzu