August 15, 2017 – West Bend, WI – During Monday night’s West Bend School Board meeting the board voted 5-2 to approve the contracts for Darci VanAdestine as principal of West Bend East and Ralph Schlass as principal of West Bend West. No details on their contracts were released.
Board members Monte Schmiege and Ken Schmidt were the two dissenting votes.
Ken Schmidt – “I’ll be voting no on this. Not as a reflection upon the qualifications or anything in regard to the candidates but in regard to the process by which this happened and that’s why I will vote no.”
Schmidt’s comment dates to the July 25 school board meeting and questions others had, including school district staff, about how the principals were selected.
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,” said Johannsen.
-“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”
Nan Lustig, Director of Elementary Education/Literacy Learning Specialist K-12, also addressed the board during the meeting July 25 meeting regarding principal appointments.
-“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.”
Following the meeting Monday night School Board president Tiffany Larson did write: “typically we have 6 administrators between East and West High…currently we have 5 so I suppose technically we are saving a little money in this brief interim. I believe a recruitment/interview process is underway to hire the additional assistant principal for West. Whether 5 assistants and 1 principal or 2 principals and 4 assistants the structure of 6 admins has been consistent for years. I am so proud of the work the entire administrative team is doing to ensure a fantastic start to the school year.”