Education Roundup School district discontinues Watch DOGS program |

Education Roundup School district discontinues Watch DOGS program

Dylan Silver

Lake Tahoe Unified School District has ended the Watch DOGS program after a conflict with the group’s South Lake Tahoe coordinator.

Officials with the district filed for a restraining order Friday against John “Zaak” Wilson, who volunteered to start the national organization’s South Lake Tahoe branch in February.

Sierra House Elementary principal Ryan Galles would not comment on exactly why he discontinued the group, though he hopes the practices of the Watch Dads Of Great Students continue.

“We very much value the involvement of our dads,” Galles said. “We want to see our dads volunteer.”

The restraining order stems from an incident last week at Lake Tahoe Environmental Science Magnet School, where Wilson’s daughter is a student. Wilson went to the school for a meeting with his daughter’s teacher. The meeting became verbally confrontational. No violence occurred, according to both Wilson’s account and the request for a restraining order filed by Galles.

Wilson acknowledged he raised his voice, but does not believe a restraining order is justified, he said.

“I felt slighted and discriminated against,” Wilson said. “If this is happening to me, a person who stands up for myself, I can only imagine what’s happening to people who don’t have that ability.”

Galles and the teachers involved in the meeting felt threatened by Wilson’s behavior, according to the filing.

“We all felt threatened by the verbal assault by John Wilson,” Galles wrote in the filing. “His behavior crossed the line and given his volatile behavior and history we needed to do this.”

Wilson has not been involved in any other court cases or incidents with the school or district staff, according to court documents.

District officials decided not to comment on the incident’s particulars. Though, the safety of students and staff is the district’s utmost priority, said superintendent Jim Tarwater.

“Always, our rule of thumb is the safety and security of students and staff,” he said.

The temporary restraining order has disrupted Wilson’s and his family’s life, Wilson said. His daughter is no longer allowed to attend the Magnet School, but can go to other schools in the district. Wilson is no longer affiliated with Watch DOGS.

A judge will decide if a more permanent restraining order is necessary at a hearing in El Dorado County Superior Court on March 23.

Watch DOGS is an organization for fathers who are interested in becoming more involved in their children’s schools. It has thousands of branches nationwide.

Hundreds of interested dads, uncles, brothers and guardians showed up to the initial Watch DOGS meeting in February.

Founder Eric Snow said there’s been very few cancellations of the program.

“We want to make sure whatever decision they make is from an enlightened position,” Snow said.

Fathers are welcome to still volunteer at the schools, Tarwater said.

“We always stand by our policy to invite fathers to come into the schools,” he said.

Barton offers health professional scholarship

Applications for the Barton Memorial Scholarship are available now in the Lake Tahoe Community College financial aid office. Students who plan to enter a health care profession and who will be transferring next school year are eligible for the $1,500 scholarship. Applications are due Friday, March 30.

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