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Parents Address Board on Cell Phone Incident

At the Crivitz Board of Education monthly meeting on Wednesday, March 19, at 6 p.m., all board members were present in addition to nine persons from the public and three representatives from the Energy Service Group.

During the public input portion of the meeting, three parents commented on an incident in which students were reprimanded for alleged misconduct on school property. The incident itself, which dealt with children using cell phones on school property in an inappropriate fashion, was not discussed in detail at the board meeting. It was not on the agenda and there was no board discussion or action on the matter.

Michelle Kempka, mother of one of the students involved, expressed her disapproval. “I have to address this to the board because nothing is actually being done about it,” she declared. She said she was speaking of the cell phone incident that happened last month, and said she knew about it “because I got a letter sent home from the athletic director saying it was a cell phone incident.”

“We appealed it after hearing the stories,” Kempka said, adding, “In our appeal, it turned in to be a hazing charge. I completely disagree with the way it was handled. It absolutely could have been handled differently!” She described it as being “carried way over.”

“I talked to the officer Monday and he just cleared her daughter of anything,” Kempka declared. “He said there was no hazing. He said there was nothing but girls being girls in the locker room. There was music playing, she was dancing around and they turned it into be something grotesque and that’s how it was written.”

She said now everything has been taken away: National Honor Society, Student Council, Forensics for some of them, kicked off the basketball team. “It was just taken too far, and I just want some kind of resolution for that, especially if the officer said there was nothing of the sort going on.”

She continued, “They’re friends, they were friends, maybe that hour they weren’t friends or something, but it’s a proven fact they were friends. And how you can take something like that and get a hazing charge against you and an athletic code violation unbecoming of a student athlete, I just don’t believe it ... I don’t know if we have to have a special meeting or something for it, but it’s still not sitting good with me nor will it ever ... they should take it back after the officer already said there was nothing. “

Jason Neuman, a father, had a few additions to her comments. “I’ve been very much involved in this whole thing since my daughter’s phone was the one under investigation,” he said. “I spent lengthy meetings with police, sheriffs, everything else. There’s been no evidence of anything found on a phone, no nothing! She’s been dragged through the mud, my family’s name, my kids, by everybody on the Internet and everywhere.”

He said after this started he investigated school policies, “...and from the things I’ve found on the internet, the board’s policies don’t stick!” He said policies that were posted for five years for parents to read have not been enforced, and declared, “I think the board seriously needs to sit down and look at their policies, their ideas as far as the school goes, not only for the children that are in it now but for the children that will be going through it in the future.” He said he worries about his seven-year-old who will be going to Crivitz High School.

“I’m sure if any of the other parents knew what’s going in the school...I sat for a half an hour at my computer one night and found pictures of girls in locker rooms, full teams in locker rooms, from sixth grade up on Facebook, available for anybody to find. I found them on people’s pages that aren’t even my friends. This has become an epidemic at your school not just a two or three girl incident,” he declared.

“And to be accused of hazing and some of the other heinous things that were said by parents, bus drivers. I won’t even repeat what a bus driver for this school system said should happen to kids that act like this,” Neuman declared.

“The other thing that upsets me is when one of our school administrators looks at me and says, 'I would think twice about taking on a prominent businessman and the head of the school board in this town,'” Neuman declared. “That tells me right there that there's a possibility that everybody in this room thinks that students, parents don't have an opinion, that we shouldn't be allowed to stand up and talk. That’s ridiculous."

Another parent told the board, “My daughter could have been involved in this as well and it doesn’t sit right with me either. I’ve just got to say that this was handled badly by all. The parents should have handled this their own way, among parents, and not dragged the school into it. And when they did drag the school into it, it should have gone step 1, 2, 3. Not for the whole community to get involved with and start making all of these kids feel like they didn’t matter. That’s unacceptable!”

Neuman objected that parents were not notified until after the alleged incident had been under investigation for three days, but punishments had started immediately.

“This would have been a lot easier for parents to handle if the school’s policy would include the parents,” Neuman declared. “I didn’t find out until three days later (through the grape vine) that this was going on... Parents weren’t even notified that their kids were being interrogated by school officials and the police. My daughter’s a minor. I know it’s not the law, but out of common decency or respect, please, things need to be handled differently in this district!”

Following the meeting, Neuman stated that Superintendent Patrick Mans was the member of the administration who told him to, “think twice about taking on a prominent businessman and the head of the school board in this town.” Neuman indicated his belief that this was because the daughter of a school board official was involved in the cell phone incident.

When approached for comment regarding this allegation and to Neuman’s comment that he felt the district did not listen to parents, the district issued the following response:

“Mr. Neuman’s recollection of what was said is not consistent with that of the Administration. The fact is that due to the circumstances of this matter, the Board President has not and will not participate in any part of the discussions and decision regarding this matter.

“Parents and students have the opportunity and are welcome to stand up and share their opinion with District staff anytime. In addition, a public comment agenda item is included on every regular monthly Board allowing parents, students and the public the opportunity to share opinions with the Board of Education just as Mr. Neuman did at the March meeting of the Board.”

During the business portion of the meeting the board took action on numerous issues, including approving the first semester of 2014/15 youth options courses, the 2014/15 annual CESA 8 contract, the 2014 summer school teacher list, the 2014/15 TRITON one year extension, and a tentative teaching staff list for the 2014/15 school year.

The board approved a change in the language used in the professional staff handbook regarding health reimbursement account based retirement incentives. The amended policy reads as follows, “Individuals with 15 years of consecutive employment by the district as a teacher, as of the conclusion of the 2012-2013 school year, will receive an amount equal to one year’s worth of the district’s portion of the employee’s health insurance policy for the year immediately prior to retirement.”

During the superintendent’s report, Mans informed the board that laws regarding the required number of days a school must be in session may soon be changing. If the 180 day requirement is dropped, schools would still have a required amount of hours for students to be in school. The board would have the option of adding time to each school day, but having students in school for fewer days, Mans said. He felt this change could help the district save money on transportation, support staff and utilities.

Mans applauded the excellent work of the food service director and her entire staff on a recent DPI/Federal review. Mans reported the only change needed was adding an anti-discrimination notice to the lunch program menu. That this was an accomplishment, Mans said, adding that districts usually need to make many changes following a review such as this.

Mans also thanked girls basketball coach Joe Eastman for his recent generous donation of $1000 to the Crivitz sports program.

Mans informed the board that a foreign exchange student from Germany is expected to attend Crivitz High School during the 2014/15 year. The student will be staying with a local family.

During the elementary and middle school report, Principal Jeff Walsh informed the board that the girls’ seventh and eighth grade basketball season recently ended. He thanked the athletes and coaches Charlie Johnsen and Joe Hanson for their hard work through the season.

Walsh also informed the board that the seventh and eighth graders will participate in the pilot program for the Smarter Balanced Assessment program. The Smarter Balanced Assessment program tests whether schools are maintaining common core standards with their students. Test results will not be issued to students or the school, but participating in the program will help Crivitz schools gain experience on the testing process.

Walsh also announced the 2014 elementary and middle school summer school will be conducted from June 9 through July 3. Class will be in session from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. with a half hour break for lunch, which will be provided free of charge to students through the use of a grant.

During his report, High School Principal Jeff Baumann congratulated students who participated in the yearly Academic Bowl. Billy Retza and Ben Fischer were chosen to compete in the science portion, Charlie Dettmering and Lucas Wuensch in Language Arts, Zach Myszka and Regina Russ were in the social studies class, and Trevor Gauthier and Cameron Fischer in the math portion.

Baumann extended special congratulations to Zach Myszka for placing first in social studies, to Billy Retza for placing third in science and to Trevor Gauthier for taking third in math.

He announced that students will be given six lessons during the fourth quarter using “iSafe”, an Internet safety program required by the state government that teaches things like using the Internet safely, spam and phishing emails.

Baumann also said the Crivitz High School wrestling team won the Dave Collins Sportsmanship award for the 2014 season. The Dave Collins Sportsmanship award is voted on by all schools in the conference and given to the team with the best sportsmanship. Baumann stated, “It is a great award that Coach Bernier, Coach Reichardt and the entire team should be proud of.” Bauman also congratulated the boys’ basketball team on placing second in the basketball voting for this competition.

Director of Buildings, Grounds and Transportation Tom White informed the board that the elementary lighting project was randomly selected for an audit to ensure that the project was done according to Focus on Energy guidelines. White stated the inspection was completed and everything was found to be in order.

White also said a record storage area had been created to store financial and food service records.

Community Education Director Jolene Huc told board members that the community weight loss program, “The Big Get Skinny,” will now be handled by the Crivitz Community Center. Information on the program, now to be called “Choose to Lose,” can be found on the Community Center website.

Student representative Billy Retza told members that National Honor Society was in the process of coordinating a blood drive for March 28. Retza commented that Crivitz Hi-Q finished 10th in the overall competition, that Rube Goldberg finished 13 of 22 in their competition and that YODA is continuing to raise money for their Every 15 Minutes program. Retza informed the board that the Future Business Leaders Association would be taking a trip to The Mall of America on March 22, and are also planning to visit Milwaukee Bucks marketing and accounting departments on April 11. The Science Club paid for cameras and recorders for the criminal forensics and leadership classes, he said and the cameras will be available for general use if needed.

The board approved plans for the Crivitz Music Department to travel to Cleveland from May 9 through 12. Cost will be $400 per student in addition to the $119 per student being contributed by the Music Maker Fund. Students will have opportunities to raise funds for their portion of the trip. The group will include 33 students and six adults from Crivitz, joined by 13 students and two adults from the Lena Music Department.

It was announced that the Crivitz Village Board approved the use of the village ball field by the girls’ softball team.

The board heard a presentation by three representatives from Energy Service Group. The representatives discussed changes their company proposed to make both the elementary and high school buildings more energy efficient. The board will make a decision regarding whether to hire the company at a later date.

The board also approved the March 19 agenda, minutes from the Feb. 19 meeting, vouchers and the financial report. The financial report listed the balance of all funds, as of March 31, to be $2,123,777.11 with the total for vouchers at $1,988,862.79. The board also held the second reading of the NEOLA board policy updates.


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