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Suring School Spotlight On Washington DC Trip

Issue Date: April 20, 2022

During the District Spotlight at the Suring School Board's regular monthly meeting on Wednesday, April 6, Kathy Runge presented a slide show of the middle school trip to Washington D.C.  for 37 students and chaperones in March. It was the first time many of them had flown on an airplane. Three students - Chloe Schroeder, Aleena Broetzman and Karl Hischke - spoke to the board about their experiences while on the trip, including their favorite places they visited. 

Principal Zachara Beeksma discussed many topics, including the music department trip to Nashville, the middle school science fair, and the fact that 14 students from the district qualified to attend the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) state competition. The Parliamentary Procedure team placed 5th overall and Hailey VanRens was awarded a Business Achievement Award for her personal leadership and business skills. 

Athletic Director Heidi Gerndt reported that softball and baseball participant numbers have increased this year, which has caused some growing pains for the programs, especially with transporting Suring students to Gillett for practices after school. The need for fields in Suring was also discussed at length.

The District Administrator report was presented by Todd Carlson. He reported that he is working with the school nursing staff to have them begin dispersing prescription medication to Suring students and is coordinating a DPI Transportation audit of the school. He also relayed to the board that during the recent 3-on-3 basketball tournament held in the Suring school, the district received several compliments about the condition and cleanliness of the facilities.

School officials present for the open portion of the meeting were board members David Lally, Cathy Lundgren, Dennis Piepkorn, Gary Regal, Amanda Seibert, Wayne Sleeter, Wendy Wozniak, and President Wayne Sleeter; Director of Special Education/Curriculum Coordinator Mrs. Michelle Pendl, Beeksma, and Carlson. Members of the public who attended were Rhonda Stuart, Sarah Hischke, Kathy Runge, Karl Hischke, Aleena Broetzman, Heidi Gerndt,  Terry Garrigan, Greg Jaeger, Tabitha School, Erich Broetzman, Chloe Schroeder, Crystal Schroeder, and Melissa Hischke. No one asked to speak during the time for public comment.

By unanimous vote, the board approved contracts with Virtual School ?? RVA; Student Mental Health services with Oak Ridge Counseling  & Consulting, LLC and the Student Transportation Waiver Letter as presented.

The CESA 8 Contract for the 2022-23 School Year also was approved as presented, with Lundgren abstaining and the other six board members voting in favor.

The next regular board meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 11, in the Board Room.

Items for future board consideration are the property on Highway 32 and a local baseball field. 

After concluding other business the board went into closed executive session and spent slightly over two hours in closed door discussion. The agenda specified that the executive session was called to consider "employment, promotion, compensation or performance evaluation data of any public employee  over which the governmental body has jurisdiction or exercises responsibility, ... financial, medical, social or personal histories or disciplinary data of specific persons, preliminary  consideration of specific personnel problems or the investigation of charges against specific persons, and/or conferring with legal counsel for the governmental body who is rendering oral or written advice concerning  strategy to be adopted by the body with respect to litigation in which it is or is likely to become involved."

The board then returned to open session and adjourned without taking action.

They subsequently scheduled a special meeting for 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 20, to begin with discussion of staff benefits in regard to health insurance contract renewal and pay for event workers and officials for the 2022-2023 school year, and then go into another closed session to confer with legal counsel; consider employment, promotion, compensation or performance evaluation data of any public  employee over which the governmental body has jurisdiction or exercises responsibility, and/or consider  dismissal, demotion, licensing or discipline of any public employee or person licensed by a  board or commission or the investigation of charges against such person, or considering the grant or denial  of tenure for a university faculty member, and the taking of formal action on any such matter; provided  that the faculty member or other public employee or person licensed is given actual notice of any  evidentiary hearing which may be held prior to final action being taken and of any meeting at which final  action may be taken. The meeting agenda included a provision, "The notice shall contain a statement that the person has the right to demand that the  evidentiary hearing or meeting be held in open session."

There is a possibility for the board to announce or take action and/or issue a statement after returning to open session before adjournment of the April 20 meeting.

It is not known if the closed session discussions at the meetings were to involve discussion on handling of the charges against District Administrator Kelly Casper, 51, whose employment with Suring School district has been suspended pending the outcome of legal proceedings against her in Oconto County Circuit Court.

Casper faces six counts of false imprisonment related to Jan. 18 strip searches of students for vaping devices or cartridges. A motions hearing on those charges is to be held before Judge Michael T. Judge in Oconto County Circuit Court on Thursday, April 28.

The defense attorney's motion for dismissal contends the criminal complaint fails to provide sufficient facts for a judge to find probable cause for the charges, and asserts the students involved were "not genuinely restrained or confined" when they were taken to a bathroom adjacent to the nurse's offices so the searches could be conducted privately, and contends that state law allows students to be removed from classrooms and confined.

When he filed the charges against Casper, Oconto County District Attorney Edward Burke said she lacked legal authority to confine the students, the children weren't given a chance to call their parents before being confined to the bathroom, and were only allowed to choose between a search conducted by Casper or a police officer. The complaint said once they followed orders to remove their clothing down to their underwear they were no longer free to leave. He had previously determined that Casper had not violated "strip search" laws because private parts of the students were not exposed.

All official Suring School Board publications (school board meeting agendas and minutes) can be found on the school website www.suring.k12.wi.us. 




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