Official ‘arrested’ at district meeting
The meeting was proceeding as usual at the Lake Tahoe Unified School District Offices on April 11, 2001. Representatives from the Department of Mental Health, Probation, Lake Tahoe School District and Social Services along with nonprofit organization representatives from Sierra Recovery Center, Tahoe Youth and Family Services, South Lake Tahoe Women’s Center, Drug Court and others were diligently working on the issues affecting the successful functioning of one of South Lake Tahoe’s troubled families.
This was the bimonthly meeting of the Lake Tahoe Children’s Resource Team intended to provide a forum for agencies to come together from their respected disciplines and think creatively and unconventionally to help otherwise disengaged families. The representatives from each department or agency who were appointed by their directors as having excellent trouble shooting and collaborative skills had the mission to help provide an approach to families’ needs that could not adequately be addressed through conventional programs and services.
The meeting was about 25 minutes into its two-hour schedule when there was a startling interruption. Officer Terry Daniels of the South Lake Tahoe Police Department entered the room to cite and take into custody the team facilitator, David Soper. Mr. Soper, director of the El Dorado County Children’s and Families Network was reasonably startled as well as many others. However, as Office Daniels pronounced the charges, Mr. Soper’s face turned from astonished to amused. The charges alleged that David Soper has violated the Bureaucratic Code specifically relating to “thinking outside the box and efficient leadership.” He was taken away to another room at the District Office where a mock courtroom had been prepared.
The expecting bailiff, Patty Moley, adoption’s services worker from the Department of Social Services, called the court to attention and the presiding judge, The Honorable Roger S. Hardin, children’s services social worker at the Department of Social Services, quickly announced that the “court of flaws” was now in session. Witnesses such as Cindy Swalm counselor at Tahoe Youth & Family Services, provided testimony alleging that Mr. Soper had asked her “if she was pregnant before a prior meeting” and later testified to the horrible emotional trauma and diet that had to ensue as a result of Mr. Soper’s comment. Sally Williams, Mental Health Children’s Services supervisor, testified that Mr. Soper had at one time stated that she “looked like June Cleaver” and that this had forever marked her identity and sense of fashion.
Soper, being represented by Public Pretender (also Sierra Recovery Center’s drug and alcohol therapist, Lyle Dornan, had no choice but to have his client plead guilty. The judge found that the allegations were true and that David Soper was to receive a package as his full and complete punishment. As Mr. Soper opened the package in court and unveiled the large picture of an eagle with the characteristics of leadership inscribed, came the full realization that this group had truly been grateful for his vision and leadership over the past 10 years.
David Soper tendered his resignation as director of the Children’s and Families’ Network in February of this year to assume the position as director of ROC/P and director and coordinator for Consolidated Applications for the El Dorado County Office of Education. Countless families have been assisted, most unknowingly, for his contributions to the community. He will be missed but his history of competence will be a model for the group to continue its services to struggling families in the area.
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