April 5, 2022 – West Bend, WI – Parents with students in the West Bend School District spoke during Monday night’s meeting about a variety of issues including integrity, accountability and one parent asked why a teacher surveyed students on how many guns their parents had in the house.
Jenni Thompson, a West Bend parent, said during the public participation portion of the meeting,
“A few weeks ago, in my daughter’s class the history teacher asked the kids one by one ‘How many guns do your parents have in your home?’ One by one, every student sat there waiting for their turn to have to answer. When my daughter was asked, she said she felt pressured into answering.
“The teacher says he wanted to show the kids how popular the 2nd Amendment still is today. With a quick Google search, he could have easily found these statistics. But instead, he used his position to pressure minors for private information.
“I wish I could say I was surprised this happened, but I’m not. This same teacher has made national news 2 other times for similar issues. He seems to not understand that politics DO NOT belong in the classroom.
“What I’m angry about is that he was given a third chance to break not only multiple (West Bend School District (WBSD) policies, but laws:
Policy 333 Parent Rights and Student Privacy.
Policy 381 Controversial Issues
Policy 381 (AR) Curriculum Controversial Issues
“Why does it feel like I know these policies better than the teacher?
“He also never listed this illegal survey on Canvas so I could opt out my daughter. I know because I actually read Canvas and had expected the teacher to follow his own plans.
“The teacher very possibly broke Wisconsin laws when asking minors how many guns their parents have in their homes.
WI State Law 995.50 Invasion of Privacy
WI State Law 946.12 Misconduct in Public Office – Class I Felony; that is how serious this situation is.
“My husband and I reported this 2 weeks ago and today was the first we heard back from anyone with an update. If the teacher comes before the board for a disciplinary hearing, we beg you to do something more than a slap on the wrist. He has proven time after time that he will keep breaking school policies. He should not get away with what he did. Who knows what he’ll do next.”
Superintendent Jennifer Wimmer confirmed an investigation is underway. “We would want our staff to follow our expected policy and practice in the classroom,” she said. “Anything deemed in violation of that would be fully investigated and we would have outcomes regarding that investigation.”
Wimmer followed up saying “there are certainly consequences for actions.”
“Probably depends on circumstances, context, a lot of those pieces but there would be consequences for actions,” she said. “If something (an action) is repeated that shifts how consequences are applied.”
Wimmer stated there were some policies available. The two below were submitted regarding what is followed in the West Bend School District.
The policy regarding surveys can be found here: https://west-bend.k12.wi.us/files/user/184/file/Policy%20333%202021-04-12%20District%20Programs%20%20Activities.pdf
Staff expectations is contained in this policy: https://west-bend.k12.wi.us/files/user/9/file/519%20Code%20of%20Ethics.pdf
School Board president Chris Zwygart has worked on policy in the past. He said, “As a general rule, hypothetically speaking, the board can set policy and the board can enforce policy.”
Questioned whether he thought the policies in place were working, Zwygart said he “would have to see the outcome of the investigation that’s underway before he could say.”
“The results of the investigation will serve as the basis for the next steps,” he said.
Wimmer said the investigation into the complaint depends on how many interviews are conducted. She expected the investigation would be completed within a couple days to a week.
Board member Paul Fischer promised to call after the meeting; we’re currently playing phone tag.
Board member Erin Dove also promised to call after the meeting; we’re still awaiting that call.
This is a working story and more information will be posted when details become available.