Save Challenger Baseball for kids with Special Needs@DosPueblosLittleLeague *Updates below

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Dos Pueblos Little League has decided to arbitrarily discontinue Challengers Baseball division under the current leadership, without notification or explanation to any Challenger family and without any replies to our inquiries. This program has been successfully operated since 2004 due to dedicated parents and the generous support of our community, many who have donated to Challengers baseball over the years. Our Special Needs Youth in Santa Barbara and Goleta will suffer a huge set back with this great program being erased.

My own daughter Katya has benefited from this activity as well as hundreds of her peers with Special Needs. Her involvement with baseball has greatly contributed to the development of her hand/eye coordination, her gross and fine motor skills and the development of social skills. This has evolved into an inclusive and supportive community.

I am graciously asking our community to stand up for our most vulnerable population that consists of many Challenger participants, and who count on the few programs available to them that increase the quality of their lives, because of the joy it brings to both themselves and their families.

Please stand with those kids that cannot fight for themselves and sign this petition to save this program for future generations.

Sincerely,

Maria Kaestner,

Special Needs Mom of Katya Kaestner

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*****SINCE THIS REPLY BELOW to DPLL"s original public statement, DPLL changed it's statement on it's website to ADD AMBIGUOUS and BLANKET ACCUSATIONS as an excuse to deprive our children of INCLUSION and PARTICIPATION and without accountability to be questioned by KEYT about these accusations. KEYT is in possession of the statement that was sent to District 63, to  counter these allegations.*************

 

Our response to DPLL ORIGINAL public statement and interview with KEYT channel 3.

 

Dear Challenger supporters of this petition,

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY to all our supporters.

Again, we appreciate everyone that has been signing this petition and has shared very fond memories of DPLL from the past. We hope to continue this tradition in our community and are working on having our players re-instated as soon as possible so they are not denied this wonderful opportunity of inclusion to play baseball.

We would like to share our deep concerns about the official DPLL statement that can be found at the bottom of this update, at KEYT and at DPLL's own website. We would like to re-iterate that this petition is solely about the facts that are in our possession.

(UPDATE WITHIN AN UPDATE!)

****First and foremost, this paragraph was added after DPLL's public statement came out after this update was created as a response. These BLANKET and AMBIGUOUS accusations came out AFTER we finally were contacted by District 63 in November and AFTER many inquiries that had gone unanswered for 7 plus months. NO INDIVIDUALS were identified or contracted by District 63 about these allegations but a statement was prepared for District 63 to curb these allegations.*****************

"This fall, the all-volunteer DPLL Board of Directors was asked by CA District 63 to not charter a Challenger Division for the 2020 season. The action was taken to address several Little League compliance issues that emerged specifically in the Challengers program and put the entire league charter at risk (allowing unregistered players to participate, repeated violations of Little League safety rules, harassment of DPLL volunteers, Little League trademark infringement and unauthorized use of the DPLL name to raise funds for a third party)"

a)Why were NO 'unregistered' players were ever contacted , identified or dismissed by the current DPLL Board OR District 63???

b)Why were NO SAFETY incidents or attempts to break safety rules  been recorded and NO INDIVIDUAL has been contacted, identified or dismissed in any official capacity based on safety issues? NO SAFETY incident has ever occurred since the start of Challenger Division in 2004 as safety has been the NR 1 priority of Challenger coaches and the record speaks for itself.

c)NO harassment has ever been addressed and NO INDIVIDUAL has been contacted, identified or contacted in any official capacity on WHAT harassment took place and WHOM they harassed ?

d)NO one has ever been officially accused of 'trademark infringement and unauthorized use of the DPLL name' other than the current Board President complaining about some PAST VOLUNTEER that has not been around for years, having created a facebook page which had photos that apparently where not in compliance with Little League rules. This was remedied YEARS AGO!

*Inside story : "Rather than each of us spending funds on advertising our individual LL programs, we came up with a plan of advertizing together as Little League Challengers and then listed websites for DPLL, Carpenteria and Ventura. When the current Board President called to my attention that advertising this way was in violation of LL trademark infringement and not acceptable, he asked to have all banners, posters, mailers removed, and fan wear that sited the Little League Challengers. He then reported it to the LL headquarters legal department for having a Face Book page that was started years ago by one of our volunteers. A volunteer was asked to remove it but did not. One particular individual at Challengers then received a formal letter from LL Legal to remove it and did.

 

E)Funds raised in the past were raised in conjunction with Little League and with full knowledge of the Board, which was done BEFORE the current Board President took his seat THREE YEARS AGO on the DPLL Board as President and which was done with PAST BOARD APPROVAL and knowledge which he was part of and which NEVER LED to any financial discrepancies (other than the 'whopping' $5 misplacement which came to light when an audit was done under his supervision )   NOR the misuse of DPLL tax ID as rumors are now being circulated.

*Inside story: "It was the goal to 1) never turn a child away that could not afford to play 2) to raise funds for the following season ahead of time 3) be able to fund seasonal baseball opportunities and clinics with our local baseball heroes, local high school teams, UCSB Gauchos, SB Foresters and SBCC Vaqueros. 4) provide trophies the kids would be proud of. 5) Grow community awareness and inclusion, 6) provide training opportunities for the many volunteers that would pour into our kids then and in the future. The funds raised from other community groups replaced our equipment, paid for our own storage container and field shed, trophies and end of the season celebration, Forester camp and other baseball related events.

(From the person who ran the finances): During the years I served on the board as acting Challenger Division Director I complied with all regulations and requests addressed to me from the board, it's officers and the district 63 administrator.

ALL donations and funds raised during my involvement in leadership were mailed to the DPLL P.O. Box 8245, Goleta, CA 93118. OR the previous board approved DPLL Challenger Division PO Box 1243, Goleta, CA 93118. I worked with many volunteers and there was accountability -always two of us present while collecting, counting, recording and mailing the checks and receipts to DPLL treasurer.

ALL donations and funds raised by and for Challenger Division went through the board treasurer and deposited into the DPLL general account, and were to be designated as Challenger funds. There was a DPLL board vote that if we raised the funds, they stayed with our program and rolled over every year. Meaning, funds would not be absorbed into the league general funds but carried over for our division use for the future years"

 

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1) DPLL is currently suspending the entire Challenger Division including the Senior Division, which does not have an age cap as per Little League International. In their statement, DPLL says it is committed to 'comprehensive restructuring of the program and recruitment of new volunteers'. This means that all current Challenger volunteers, coaches etc are being dis-invited from the program and are not going to be part of DPLL and by default this puts the entire Division at risk of losing their Division since the creation of a Division is highly dependent on the very volunteers directly connected with these players.
The restructuring aspect that DPLL is insisting on is 'puzzling' to us because of the following requirements that DPLL must abide by under the law:

Disabled players have a fundamental legal right today with public accommodation businesses to:

    1) 'play down' meaning with the most accommodations possible as needed based on their disabilities

   AND/OR

   2) be included in the Least Restrictive Environment to the MOST INTEGRATED SETTING  meaning, disabled players are allowed to show up for the regular DPLL league for registration and since DPLL status subjects them to the American with Disabilities Act, these players cannot be denied entry into the regular League.

Thus the initial request from Challenger Coaches to have players play by ability within our Challenger Division ( which in itself is an accommodation to the Regular League as well)  is standing in our opinion and Little League Rules provide for avenues to resolve these manners with very quick solutions. This is in the BEST INTEREST of ALL DPLL players, as we advocate our position to be of best fit for all.

 

2)'DPLL intends to bring back a 'fully compliant Little League Challenger program for the 2021 season'


The grouping by abilities by Challenger coaches has always been done with solely the Junior and Senior division (the age group 15 and older).  In order to remedy this 'out of compliance with age groups' all DPLL had to do is request waivers for all those players with disabilities and allow the coaches to construct the teams accordingly. This does not take two years to 'reconstruct'. Two years of not playing ( from the end of season 2019 when DPLL seized all communication with Challenger Division to the start in March of the 2021 season)  causes attrition of player skills and volunteers and thus the loss of the program. See above statement about legal protections for disabled players.

3) "For the 2020 season, District 63 invited all local Challenger players to participate in one of their other District Challenger  programs offered at Carpinteria Valley Little League or Montalvo Little League"

Here are the reasons why this is highly problematic:


a) Carpinteria Valley Little League only has one field and thus forcing our entire Challenger Division onto an extremely small Challenger Little League, is creating enormous field problems.

b)Montalvo is an hour away and would make for a two hour round trip car ride for children with disabilities in order to play baseball. A two hour car ride with a disabled kid is a very big undertaking for a variety of reasons, unthinkable to those that do not have the experience in living with disabled children.

 

4) "All funds that have been raised through DPLL and earmarked for the DPLL Challenger program remain intact and continue to be earmarked for the return of the new DPLL Challenger division"


These funds were raised by the current Challenger Division. Some of whom may not be re-invited next year.

 

5) "Dos Pueblos Little League, an all-volunteer, 501c3 non-profit organization still has the same goal of creating opportunities for all kids to play baseball and will continue to pursue that goal in a way that provides a safe and compliant baseball environment for all of their participants"


The current suspended DPLL Challenger Division has had a 100% safety record since it's start in 2004. It is important to note that that in addition, there have never been any missing funds  ( other than a $5 misplacement that was identified after a  major financial audit during the 2016/2017 baseball season,  as a new President ( the current one) took charge of DPLL). This Challenger Division also has been financially self sufficient.  It is also important to re-iterate that disabled players have fundamental rights with public accommodations that DPLL is subjected to, to 'play down' or to 'play in the Least Restrictive Environment' to 'MOST INTEGRATED SETTING' possible.

 

6)" DPLL acknowledges and understands how much the program means to the community and is asking for some patience as we work towards that goal."

 

DPLL Challenger Division has not received any meaningful communication since April 2019 from anyone at DPLL. It was first contacted by District 63 on November 15, 2019  which hurled blanket accusations towards UNKNOWING Challenger Division volunteers, coaches and parents AFTER parents could not register on the DPLL website. DPLL did not respond within the requested timeline to the official inquiries by Challenger Division's official request for answers and only requested a mediation in January 2020 through their attorneys, who then had DPLL post this very Statement on their website and sent it to KTYD the morning BEFORE Mediation even could have taken place which was scheduled that very afternoon on Friday January 31, 2020.


7)"In the meantime, parents are trying to pull together a 2020 program, hopefully with the help of Girsh Park and others"


Parents are NOT 'pulling together a 2020 program' at this time. Parents are pursuing INCLUSION and mainstreaming rather than creating a separate program away from abled kids, as this will only send the message that it is ok to separate disabled kids within their own communities. Parents may get together with their families and play but this is not the same as playing INCLUSIVELY in a League which gives our kids a sense of community belonging, something they are being denied regularly at many turns.


8)"DPLL would like to support this new league through the donation of any needed equipment including bats, balls, gloves, helmets, batting tees, equipment bags and other gear."

DPLL was very quick to comment on a prospective segregated 'league' and we question the surrounding offers and timing at this point, as we are under the impression there may have been some sort of co-ordinated effort to move Challenger Division to play on Sunday, away from the rest of the League.  DPLL claimed ownership of the following equipment at the end of season 2019 which included  two specifically donated to Challengers storage sheds by Eagle Scouts , baseball equipment, adaptive sport equipment and supplies and   $12k in donations specifically designated for Challenger Division needs and deposited into the DPLL general account. 


************This is a response to the entire DPLL statement and KEYT interview with DPLL representatives below.******************************


Again, we continue to regret that our communication of the facts continues to be stonewalled rather than taken in consideration to resolve these issues:

a)exclusion and

b) insistence on rules that are not written in stone as is claimed by DPLL

 within the excellent framework of Little League International, which truly has put a lot of thought into their operation and which we command for it's excellent programs around the nation and worldwide.

We ask people in our community to continue their support for this fact based petition. We are committed to stating the facts and pursuing  solutions.

This update was approved by numerous Challenger parents in pursuit of providing their kids with the best possible options for recreation and inclusion.

 

Best regards,
 
Maria Kaestner