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GLENWOOD CITY — Nearly two dozen parents and district residents filled the board room and gathered in the commons area for the February 22 regular meeting of the Glenwood City School Board.
Recent closed session meetings, including an emergency meeting called on February 11, of the board dealing with a review and possible action of the high school/middle school administrative contract, presumably that of principal Patrick Gretzlock, caught the attention of several concerned parents and district residents.
That prompted many of those to attend this past Monday evening’s meeting seeking more information and transparency from the school board on the matter.
In an effort to accommodate the large audience and keep within COVID-19 safety guidelines, district officials prepared the schools commons area with live video and audio so that they could watch, listen, comment, and ask questions during the community comment portion of the agenda.
Attendees were provided a sheet that outlined the district’s policy on public participation at board meetings.
Board president Dr. Lisa Kaiser welcome everyone to the meeting and made all aware that the board does have purview to set policy. She then read district Policy 187 – Public Participation at Board Meetings. While that policy does provide residents with an opportunity to address the board on matters of concern it does prohibit discussions specific to an individual staff member or an employment decision.
Following Dr. Kaiser’s reading of the policy, board vice president Jon Mrdutt read from a prepared district statement which read:
“We understand and appreciate the compassion that our students, parents, and community members have for our school. It is one of many strengths of our District. The Board has become concerned around the spread of misinformation amongst some members of the community regarding alleged or presumed recent board actions.
In general, the majority of school board decisions occur during open session. There are certain instances that closed sessions occur in which the information is confidential and cannot legally be shared with the public. Examples of such would be student expulsions, personnel performance reviews, and consideration for hire.
That being said, all licensed staff are protected by state statute 118 and prior to any non-renewal or termination of employment an open session opportunity may be presented to any contracted employee.
The School Board would like the public to know that they have not taken any action at any time this year that non-renews or terminates employment of any individual, including our entire administrative staff. As a matter of fact, the board appreciates the administrative team and the difficult task and duties that are required of them each day. We hope that our entire administrative team continues to serve our students and families for several years to come.”
The issue of the high school/middle school administrative contract review with possible action came to light during the January 25 meeting when resident Dan Dopkins, holding a copy of the agenda that was published in the Tribune Press Reporter, queried the board about their executive session to review the high school/middle school administrative contract and told board member now was not the time to make changes.
The matter, however, soon became a “hot-button” issue among several parents and residents following the emergency board meeting of February 11 that was held in closed session for its entirety which prohibited the media and community members from attending.
The sole item on the February 11th agenda was, “MS/HS Administrative Contract Review with Possible Action, including consideration of employment, evaluation, contract extension, and rescission of action taken on January 25, 2021.”
That lead to several people attending the February 22 meeting looking for clarification, answers and openness in the handling of this specific personnel issue.
While the board opened up the community comments to any that were in attendance at Monday’s meeting, only two – Carrie Klatt and Jodi Main – chose to address the board directly.
Klatt, a mother of three school-aged children in the district including one in high school, was the first to speak.
Her prepared statement to the board is published below.
“Good evening, and thank you for taking the time to listen to these comments from our community. My name is Carrie Klatt. I am the parent of 3 children in this district – 2 in middle school and 1 in high school. I’d like to take a moment tonight to recognize our Middle & High School Principal, Mr. Patrick Gretzlock.
Last week, one of my children was having a tough moment at school. Mr. Gretzlock took the time to personally attended to that child and help them through it. While that moment may have just been a typical part of his day, it meant a great deal to both me and my child. I wanted to thank Mr. Gretzlock for the positive impact he has had on my family.
It also made me wonder how many others in this community have been similarly impacted by Mr. Gretzlock. I sent out a brief poll, and would like to share some of the feedback I received. The responses I got represented 25% of our current middle and high school enrollment, as well as several more that covered past students and current elementary enrollment.
Here’s what a few people had to say:
My children are currently elementary age but they both have a relationship with Mr. Gretzlock. They look up to him and he is a great role model to them. They are excited for middle school so they can see him every day!
Mr. Gretzlock has always been kind and respectful as well as professional. He has many times went the extra step for the kids. He, himself, personally drove to the house and dropped off laptops when Covid started. He is a great communicator and has always been willing to work with us to do what’s best for our children.
Pat has been a great asset to our district. Every time we have had an issue he has stopped and listened and done a great job finding a good solution. He is an asset to every student every day. He is the principal every school needs.
Patrick has been a great principal. His main focus is our children!!!! We are very lucky to have him.
Mr. Gretzlock is an incredible principal for our school and an incredible asset. He has always been patient, kind, and more than generous with his time. He is always accommodating. Even simple things, like when we were on quarantine, dropping off chromebooks and schoolwork for the kids, checking up on us, making sure there wasn’t anything else we needed. The children at school like and respect him; he’s taken the time and energy to get to know who they are and understand them.
Mr. Gretzlock was an amazing principal for me, he was there for me when I needed him or just really anyone to talk to.
The pride he takes in the district shows immensely.
I am beyond happy with the job Mr. Gretzlock is doing both for our students’ academics but athletics as well. I had a personal interaction with him pertaining to my son and he was professional, courteous, caring, respectful, and helped solve the problem. I think he is doing a great job as principal and puts in 100% for the good of Glenwood City schools. He truly cares about the students and it shows.
In summary, Patrick Gretzlock is what GC needs. Thank you.”
Main, who, had served as the district’s school nurse until she resigned that position last fall, is now running for one of the two open school board seats on the April 6 ballot, stood up to address the board.
Main said that in her research of a lot of the statutes and open policy she had come across things that she wanted to ask the board some questions about.
“One of the big things, as you can see tonight, I don’t know if you have ever had this much community action in your board meetings,” she said to the members.
“I think it is really important for us to think of how the board will manage to bridge the gap between the community and the board,” added Main.
“Thoughts on making the board (meetings) public,” Main continued. “This is great, we are looking for live streaming and also to be able to look through minutes.”
“When I have been researching through the minutes, I can’t get a lot of information on what has happened,” said Main. “Specifically from when we (the school district) shut down due to COVID in March til October, the meeting minutes are next to nothing; there are not a lot that I can pull from any of it.”
Main asked the board if there are some kind of minimum requirements that it should be meeting, for official minutes so the community can be engaged and understand what is happening in their schools.
She believes that’s why so many turned out at the meeting because so few had any idea of what has been transpiring recently concerning the high school/middle school administrative contract.
One specific item that Main brought to the board’s attention was a lack of action if any in recent closed session meetings.
“We had a special meeting to rescind the action of January 25th,” said Main. “In reading the meeting minutes, there was no actions taken that are listed from the January 25th meeting so I am really concerned about what is being rescinded.”
“There has been some discussion lines saying that it was in closed session but according to policy, the votes have to be recorded actually in open session,” Main stated. “So, while you may have talked about it in executive session, when you do come back into open session, you do need to record those votes and what actually was. Those were missing from the January 25 minutes.”
“I feel there are a lot of discrepancies and I think it is important for the community and board members to be aware that there needs to be accountability and make everyone aware of what is happening,” concluded Main.
Dr. Kaiser opened up the floor to any others that might what to address the board but no on else spoke.
She thanked those that spoke and then moved the board onto its list of items that included the consent agenda, administrative and committee reports.
The board’s March meetings will be held the 8th and 22.