July 25, 2017 – West Bend, WI – Part II of the comments from the public during Monday night’s West Bend School Board meeting.
West Bend High School assistant principal Jenn Johannsen addressed the board asking about the hiring process for a second principal at the high school.
-During a special meeting Thursday, July 20 the board voted 4-1, with two members absent, to move forward and add a second principal to the high schools.
-“I was looking for clarification on the administrator hiring process for assistant and head principals that are appointed.
-“I also would like to know if it had been considered to open up the hiring process again before the second principal prior to appointing somebody? With a smaller school to head we may have had a larger pool of candidates to interview which would have been exciting. I am asking this as an assistant principal of the high school right now because I was not included or aware of an interview process for a second candidate and I was part of the first candidate’s interview process”
Former Decorah Elementary School Principal and current Director of Elementary Education/Literacy Learning Specialist K-12 Nan Lustig also addressed the board during the meeting.
-“I have some questions about what this is. I didn’t realize the positions were already filled.”
-Lustig talks about transparency. “None of us knew that any of these meetings were going to take place. You asked for input from a wider audience and open meetings that were videotaped but I couldn’t find those things.”
-Lustig talked about her memories of a two-principal system and said the system works and she had no issue with that. Her questions were about the hiring practice. “I was confused at less than 24 hours for such a huge meeting. I’m wondering why we didn’t gather more input from a wider audience. We got a lot of questions and concerns about ethical hiring practices.”
-“We went from a practice where we openly posted positions, we checked references, we asked the same list of questions to all references, we completed the documentation and we sent that to HR where we forwarded the contract.”
-“Did we post it internally? … Did we ask who else was interested?”
-“We’ve always been told as administrators when we come before the board we need a plan, a process and a financial impact of a decision. I didn’t read any of those things in the paper. I want us to be concerned and as a taxpayer I wonder what the answer to those things are.”
Former school board president Randy Marquardt also addressed the board and questioned its decision making and parent Elizabeth Bensen offered support to the board on returning to two principals at the high school.
Following the public comments, School Board President Tiffany Larson read from a prepared statement. She said she was speaking on her behalf and not on behalf of the board.
Larson spent four to five minutes reading a statement that was similar to the step by step she read during the Thursday, July 20 meeting.
“Whether hiring one or two new principals there will always be bumps in the road but we fully expect Erik to make this work for the well being of the students at East and West, we support him and we will help in the task of implementing a successful transition. We believe our principals will be able to maximize their gifts and talents by serving one school rather than two.”
-“I have no doubt our choices for principal will work brilliantly together because I have seen it first hand.”
School Board member Monte Schmiege then made some comments about how Larson’s comments did not reflect the feeling of the entire board.
-“I don’t recall any conversation the board had with regard to that communication audit. I received the audit, to my knowledge we did not discuss it.”
-Schmiege talking about the principal search. “Some members of the board discussed two principals. I did not agree to that and to this day I’m not quite sure if that was a valid closed session meeting. We started by talking about candidates and ended by talking about having two principals.”
-“I certainly do not agree with the process, not at all. The board has moved hastily and even the selection of candidates … or the selecting of candidates, that process as has been pointed out by several people here this evening is shady.”
Details on the contracts for the two new principals have not yet been disclosed, nor has it been announced which person will oversee which high school. The contracts will be ratified at the August 14 board meeting.
Calls for comment have been place to board president Tiffany Larson.
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