Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
SCOUTER30

DESPERATE...Need input and support on serious retaliation by Council

Recommended Posts

I am most emphatically not an attorney.

 

I've been through civil litigation which involved high energy and emotion, though. I can plainly see the investment in emotion and frustration in your post.

 

Right now, the best two things I can offer are:

 

- Make sure your attorneys are the very best litigators available in your area. My brother, who is an attorney, had me use this approach: Go to the nearest significant law library. Find out who is teaching continuing legal education (in your case) in civil litigation. He or she, or their firm, are the folks you want helping you out.

 

- Lay it all out to your attorneys. I cannot even tell you if you have standing to start an action from our distance. You need to be sure you are not "feeding the meter" on a cause that is, frankly, hopeless.

 

Trust me: BSA and its local Councils have good attorneys. Lots of Scouters are attorneys, and they do lots of work for local councils.

 

Now, to be blunt: When you decided on legal action, you chose a hostile trail. The relationship between you and others is now almost forever changed, probably to never change back. Folks who may have smiled and shared a meal with you just two years ago now will be told not to talk to you unless you're in a conference with both parties attorneys at hand. I endorse what Beavah said in his post above.

 

I wish you well, but right now, you don't need an internet social network covering Scouting, you need hired protection.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One clarification: Revocation of Membership is forever. You are afforded an appeal to the Region and an appeal to National. If the decision is not overturned at one of those appeals (usually within 6 months of the orginal decision), your name is added to "the list". Rarely if ever does someone come off of that list.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, here's the verification, guys & gals...

 

 

Disabled Scout leader, council battle in court

 

Charter revoked, troop disbanded after Titusville woman claims bias

 

BY JEFF SCHWEERS

FLORIDA TODAY

 

A leader no longer. Palma Rasmussen, shown here with her companion dog, filed a lawsuit against Boy Scouts of America in June. Soon afterward, the BSA revoked her membership and that of her husband, Keith, an Eagle Scout. They then revoked the charter of her Troop 700 in Titusville for children with disabilities.

 

For years, life in the Rasmussen household has revolved around Scouting.

 

They built Cub Scout and Boy Scout units with boys who left other troops because they felt mistreated because of their mental and physical disabilities. Both parents were unit leaders, and Palma Rasmussen sat on a councilwide review board.

 

But now the Titusville couple find themselves frozen out of Scouting. The Central Florida Council terminated Palma and Keith Rasmussen's memberships and revoked their unit charter, forcing some 30 scouts to join other area troops.

 

The church where they conducted their meetings kicked them out.

 

Palma Rasmussen, who uses a wheelchair most of the time because of various physical ailments, said she and the other families are being retaliated against because of a civil rights lawsuit she filed under the Americans with Disabilities Act against the Central Florida Council.

 

She's asking for compensatory damages, but all she said she really wants is her troop membership and charter back.

 

The Central Florida Council has denied violating her rights or failing to accommodate her disabilities. The organization also responded in a counter-claim that she was dismissed from her position and had her membership revoked because she misused Scout funds and didn't follow proper procedures.

 

"We feel her lawsuit has no merits," said Jeff Jonason, president of the Central Florida Council.

 

As a private volunteer organization, he said, the Boy Scouts of America is not subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act. Nonetheless, the organization tries to accommodate those with special needs, he said.

 

"Our intention is to make activities open to all the kids," Jonason said. "It's the outdoors, though, so it can't be 100 percent accessible."

 

It's now in the hands of the federal courts, and the odds are stacked against the Rasmussens.

 

The courts historically have maintained the Boy Scouts of America's exemptions from federal civil rights laws as a private membership organization.

 

"I think this is crazy," said their daughter, Rebecca, 18. She was president of the unit's Venturing Crew. "I'm hoping we get the justice deserved to us."

 

Camp nightmare

 

The Rasmussens first got involved in scouting eight years ago, when they lived on Staten Island. They moved to Titusville five years ago, after Sept. 11, when terrorists flew two hijacked commercial aircraft into the World Trade Center towers across the bay from their home. They moved because they couldn't handle "living in the shadows of what's not there anymore," Keith Rasmussen said.

 

They got a charter to start a unit in Titusville, and before long, other parents who had children with disabilities started coming to Troop 700. They had learning disabilities, developmental disabilities, behavioral problems, Attention Deficit Disorder and physical disabilities.

 

"They left because they weren't treated well there, and they were treated better here," Palma Rasmussen said. "So this was a refuge."

 

In January 2003, Palma Rasmussen became a member of the Canaveral District Committee, which oversees the units in central and northern Brevard County and is directly under the Central Florida Council, which oversees 17 units in seven counties. She also became a staff member of the Cub Scout Roundtable Commission until November 2003, when she became a Roundtable commissioner.

 

She served in that position until April 2006.

 

And then came Camp La-No-Che and the Order of the Arrow event.

 

Palma Rasmussen had been nominated in November 2005 by other leaders in her troop to be inducted into the Order of the Arrow. According to the Boy Scouts Web site, the Order of the Arrow "recognizes Scouts and Scouters who best exemplify the Scout Oath and Law in their daily lives."

 

She told her superiors that she had physical disabilities that required certain accommodations so she could participate.

 

She arrived at Camp La-No-Che on Jan. 13 and the nightmare began for her. She had no access to her wheelchair for roughly 26 hours, and was placed in a room where the doorway was too narrow for her wheelchair. Without her wheelchair she couldn't use the cramped bathroom and shower and was dependent on others to get around in a golf cart.

 

On the morning of Jan. 14, she was awakened at 6 a.m., helped into a golf cart and taken to a remote picnic area where she waited until 8:30 a.m. for others to arrive and have breakfast. She was then carted to the quartermaster hut, where she said she was left mostly alone for eight hours without any bathroom relief or food and water.

 

At the campfire ceremony later in the evening, several people hauled her off the golf cart and placed her on a log around a campfire, a difficult and painful position for her since her knees are fused and don't bend. She said she sat there for three hours.

 

Finally, at 9:45 p.m. she was allowed to use her wheelchair again.

 

"Every request she made for an accommodation was met," Jonason said.

 

 

Lawsuit filed

 

On April 10, 2006, Palma Rasmussen was asked to step down from her position on the Roundtable Commission. The Central Florida Council said she had repeatedly failed to follow outlines provided or use appropriate training methods for other leaders.

 

Rasmussen petitioned the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Nov. 29, 2006, a year after she was nominated for the Order of the Arrow. The EEOC gave her the go-ahead to sue the Boy Scouts on March 27, 2007.

 

She filed her lawsuit in federal court in June.

 

Soon afterward, the BSA revoked her membership and that of her husband, an Eagle Scout.

 

They then revoked the unit's charter.

 

In November, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church ordered the troop off the premises.

 

In hindsight, Palma Rasmussen said, she can see a pattern of refusing to accommodate people with disabilities.

 

When she wanted to run an accessible day camp for disabled kids in 2004, the leadership was reluctant, but let her do it, she said.

 

She said she had to beg them to let her do it again in 2005, but in 2006 they turned her down.

 

While on the Roundtable Commission, parents with disabled children started asking how to accommodate their special needs.

 

Rasmussen said she asked about literature about disability awareness for the parents but the leaders discouraged her from providing the literature that the BSA puts out on the very topic.

 

"The handbook says the roundtable is for discussing these issues," she said. "They have a disability awareness merit badge."

 

Rasmussen said the problem lies within the Central Florida Council. In particular, she and other parents say the problem lies with the district's executive, Kevin Litt.

 

Litt said he didn't want to get into personal attacks.

 

"We're here to help boys, not fight amongst adults, and that's what I'm trying to focus on," Litt said.

 

Besides, he said, he asked Palma Rasmussen to be on the Roundtable, and worked with her on the day camp.

 

"Suddenly I don't like disabled people?" he asked.

 

 

 

 

This article (and a similar article in the Orlando paper) only show "the victim's" side of the story.

 

As some of you picked up on, the Rasmussens appeared to be the only registered adults for the pack, troop, and crew. If there weren't any other adults, once the Rasmussens were removed, the unit no longer met the requirements to be a chartered unit...

 

Not mentioned in the article is that the Central Florida Council is countersuing, and seeking a court-ordered accounting of Unit 700's finances. Because it was a husband-wife team serving as SM and CC, there were no checks and balances when it came to spending the troops funds...

 

The countersuit alleges the Rasmussens cashed $370 in checks made out to the unit and forced their Scouts to buy clothing and mementos the Rasmussens had embroidered with trademark Boy Scout logos (which is also illegal, since they were not a trademark licensee or paying royalties for use of the logo)

 

There's also apparently some question over what happened with the unit's equipment -- the COR has yet to get it back, and none of the other parents have any idea where it is...

 

 

 

Either way, those of us who dismissed the original thread were wrong to do so, but let me quote Paul Harvey....

 

"And now you know..... the rest.... of the story...."

 

Or at least the story so far. The lawsuits haven't been heard yet.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"embroidered with trademark Boy Scout logos (which is also illegal, since they were not a trademark licensee or paying royalties for use of the logo)"

 

Don't know about that. If that was the case, every troop that has troop shirts or neckerchiefs made up is violating the law. I'm pretty sure that BSA differs from GSUSA in that members of BSA may use the logos the use is for legimate scouting purposes.

 

Back to the story. If her knees don't bend, how does she sit in a wheel chair? I didn't have access to a shower during my ordeal.

 

There had to be other adults. Don't you need three committee members to charter a unit.

 

The whole thing is still fishy. She says that all she wants is her membership back but her membership wasn't revoked until she filed her suit so why'd she file suit? I know! She wanted fame and fortune and was surprised when the organization that she was suing kicked her out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I found this posted on the forum section of the Orlando Sentinal newspaper article...This gives another side to this twisted story.

 

-------------------------

 

Posted by "I Was There", Titusville Fl.

 

OK folks, I was there. You don't know half this story. The reporter did not do a complete investigation of this issue. Before the Rathmussens came to this organization there were approximately 125 kids in the 700 scouting program. There use to be Tiger cubs, Cub scouts, Webelos, and Boy Scouts. There were 18 active adults participating weekly in the advancement of these kids in scouting. Now there are only approximately 22 Boy Scouts and Venture Crew members. There is no active tiger, cub, or webelos at 700 anymore. The leaders were kicked out and the organization s died. This Troop was gutted by the Rathmusens. 40+ people were kicked out of this Troop including good kids. We had a great organization there before these people showed up. We went camping once a month. In two years these scouts may have been on less than a handful of camp outs. A lot of good adults and kids got soured by the type of organization these people turned 700 into. As for all the kids that they say have handicaps they cater to, just propaganda. They are using this to get everybody thinking they are being picked on because they are different. Not so! The kids in 700 do not raise money for the Troop they raise money for a private "non profit organization" not associated with scouts. Guess who runs the "non profit organization"? It is not the BSA but the people running troop 700. This means that these kids from 700 who wash cars on weekends and other fund raisers do not see the money in the troop account. Their "needs" are provided for by the "non Profit organization" and you know that the people who run the "non profit organization" need to get paid "administrative costs". Hmmmmmm. Maybe the reporter has a bigger story here. If the reporter wants to do a good job. Come find us 40+ volunteers and kids who were kicked out. We have the real story. We are all just waiting to be contacted so we can tell our story. I know I was there!

 

http://www.topix.net/forum/source/orlando-sentinel/T1GPH89NHHTVQ89NI/p2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Those refer to commercial uses.

 

Read http://www.scouting.org/identity/contents/12.html

 

For the convenience of BSA units and the media, the following trademark and signature files are provided in JPEG and PNG formats, each in black-and-white and color.

 

. . .

 

No council, unit, or third party may use BSA proprietary marks for any commercial purposes (e.g., manufacturing, creating, or selling items bearing BSA proprietary marks or manufacturing or otherwise creating items that could potentially be for resale), nor may any organization other than the BSA National Council authorize such rights, either actual or implied, to any third party.

 

So, a unit may have shirts made with the BSA emblem for its own use but may not make and sell first aid kits that say "BOY SCOUT FIRST AID KIT." At least that's the way that I read it and the way that it was explained to me by our DE when I asked long ago, "Do we need permission to have shirts made?"

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The rules changed a few years back... Too many inconsistencies in how things were being produced. Protecting the "brand" is important.

 

Our troop shirts & neckers now sport the troop's logo and a solid FDL. The solid FDL isn't trademarked. If we wanted to use the BSA version of the fleur-de-lis, it would need to be approved by the logo police and produced by an approved provider.

 

 

For some, this will be a significant change in the way products, like T-shirts or patches, are purchased. In the past, you may have simply given a BSA trademark to a third party for reproduction, and while this third party did not have authorization to reproduce the trademark on a T-shirt or patch, the third party may have created a product anyway. The National Councils clarification should help you to understand that, in the future, you should use only BSA Official Licensees to produce products bearing BSA trademarks.

 

Official Licensees are contractually bound to and regularly monitored by the BSA to ensure that they adhere to product quality standards, maintain levels of insurance necessary to protect the end user in the case of product failure, and abide by a code of conduct that compels them, among other things, to provide acceptable working conditions for those producing products bearing BSA trademarks. Products that do not bear the Officially Licensed Product seal are not produced to BSA standards, and therefore are not authorized by the Boy Scouts of America.

 

(This message has been edited by eolesen)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My guess, from what I can glean from these posts, is that Palma had a bad time at her OA ordeal and was insulted by the Chapter Advisor when she tried to complain. She then plays the disability card with Council to get back at this person, not realizing she was burning her bridges behind her.

 

There's probably more to this tragic story. Perhaps both Palma and the Advisor both had bad attitudes that day. Perhaps Council was getting complaints about Palma's leadership and was looking for an excuse to get rid of her. Her incident at the ordeal may have just been a trigger point.

 

The people running the ordeal should have been better prepared to meet her needs. Then again, you can't seek satisfactioni by sueing your own Council and then expect it to keep you as a volunteer.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree the case was probably precipitated by prior events. How she was treated at the Ordeal may have been the result of her reputation before hand and what some may have seen as her "qualifications" for nomination in the first place. Wheel chair bound, knees don't bend, 14 days and nights of camping? What I have some trouble with though is the notion that; "Then again, you can't seek satisfaction by suing your own Council and then expect it to keep you as a volunteer." Maybe it's just that I come from Chicago and have seen where litigation can become the last resort in trying to preserve the program for future youth. Just because a person sought justice or relief in the courts should not be a basis for determining fitness to be a volunteer. If on the other hand continual participation in the program can be seen as providing continual opportunity for litigation then I would understand removal. Saying to a volunteer that if you take me to court for my injustices and abuses then you will no longer be allowed to be a part of the program seems like adding insult to injury.

LH

 

Gold Winger ya we can't have shirts made anymore without going thru someone that pays a fee to National. I think this is a monetary thing and not a quality thing myself but that is just me. We used to have patches made for District events that included something representative of BSA. The FDL usually but used the First Class emblem on occasion. Now we have to go thru a licensed provider and the cost has made it so that our patches no longer contain any BSA reference.(This message has been edited by LongHaul)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And yet another post I found...

 

After reading the article and the discussion boards, I have formed the opinion the Rasmussen's are not about the youth, but about how much money they can make off a frivolous lawsuit.

I may be wrong but I can smell, and this all smells bad.

 

-------------------------

posted by kingmj50

 

 

We were recent members of this Troop and I can say that the Rasmussens do not follow the Scout Oath and Scout Law set by the BSA. They are at best con-artist from New York that Ive ever met, and surround themselves with people that theyve been able to manipulate towards there true cause To make them look like true BSA Leaders and Sue the BSA for a large monetary award. There are many volunteers who serve the BSA with Honesty and Honor to see that the boys and girls that choose to join the BSA are provided with the guidelines that are needed to become a strong and confident adult.

Pauma Rasmussen was the only committee member of this troop and had complete control of the finances with no oversight. The BSA guidelines encourage that all parents with children involved in the Boy Scouts be involved in the troops activities, and as a committee member when possible. The Rasmussens had total control of all aspects on how this troop was run. If you made any suggestions for a positive change within this Troop you would be treated as an outsider and no longer a member or their inner circle of followers.

Keith Rasmussen opinion of the National BAS organization was that they only exist to run fundraisers. He choose to have the members of Troop 700 not participate in the fundraisers, and since the troops committee existed only of his wife Pauma there was never any opposition to any of the decisions on how the Troop was run. If you did oppose any of their decisions you would end up transferring out of Troop 700 because you and your child would no longer be welcome as part of their troops family.

Was Keith a good leader? Just ask those former members of Troop 700 that are now members of other Troops throughout Brevard County. The Rasmussens are not the true leaders that I want my son to be influenced by.

Recently the Rasmussens had a donated storage shed erected on there personal property by the members of Troop 700. The Rasmussens had knowledge that the Troops Charter was being revoked during the time this shed was erected. The intent to build this shed on their property was to store the Troops equipment in it, and this equipment belongs to the Charter Organization. When the Charter had been revoked, one member of Troop 700 was asked by the Rasmussens to store the Troops equipment on their property until the sheds constructions was complete. The individual storing this equipment was informed that the Charter Organization wanted the equipment delivered to the Church, Pauma Rasmussen was consulted on the equipment issue so where is Troop 700s Equipment now? Ask the Rasmussens

My son and I have been to Camp La-No-Che on several occasions, and we have always seen the dedicated staff do everything to accommodate every camper, even those who are in wheelchairs-- there is no discrimination issue here.

Remember that the Boy Scouts of America only works because of its volunteers. The BSA has many dedicated member and if you dont like an organization like the BSA then resign your volunteer position and go somewhere your services are needed, but dont bring lawsuits like this one to a great organization like the BSA.

 

 

http://forums.floridatoday.com/viewtopic.php?t=60058&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=30

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is an absolute mess. I'll let folks down in Florida deal with it.

 

Now, that said... for those Arrowmen who wander in here, my thoughts:

 

1) If you even think you have a serious special needs case (and to me, wheelchair bound is a serious special need), it's time to ask the SE for the volunteer they "go-to" as staff Surgeon. Medical consultation is legitimate.

 

2) The Professional Staff Adviser to the Lodge needs to be in on the conversation as well, along with the Scout Camp Ranger. There is probably gainful employment for a wheelchair-bound, but there are other admin and support issues to work. A wheelchair-bound may have a 2:1 Elangomat to Candidate ratio.

 

3) The normal Ordeal weekend may not be the appropriate venue for induction. Our Council has an annual "special needs" camp: The Lodge goes out to it and runs an induction as part of the program. I know there are generally restrictions about Ordealing away from the home Lodge, but IIRC there are exceptions... and certainly the SE can contact the Regional Office for assistance, if not the Home Office in Irving.

 

4) As others have said, though, a lawsuit is rarely a good idea for friendly relationships between both sides of a disagreement. As Beavah pointed out, the SE has responsibilities to protect his professionals and his volunteers acting in good faith.

 

"Never burn your bridges... you may need to cross them again someday." Good advice.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...