If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
GLENWOOD CITY — For the second time in as many weeks, district residents and parents attended a Glenwood City School Board meeting in large numbers to express their concerns and query board members.
Upwards of 30 people turned out for the Monday, March 8 regular meeting of the Glenwood City Board of Education which was moved to the middle school/high school commons to better accommodate the increase in public attendance at the twice-monthly meetings that seems to have been sparked by the board’s recent closed-session conversions allegedly concerning the future status of middle school/high school principal Patrick Gretzlock.
Although the board has neither made known publicly the nature of its closed-door discussions nor taken any actions on said matters in open session, many of those in attendance have become alarmed by the board’s perceived lack of transparency and communication with the public.
A district statement read by board vice president Jon Mrdutt at the beginning of the February 22 meeting that said in part, “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.”, seems to have done little to alleviate the apprehensions and concerns of those in attendance at this past Monday’s meeting.
Prior to opening up the meeting for public comments, president Dr. Lisa Kaiser once again read the district’s policy as it pertains to public participation which does allow for resident input on matters of concern but prohibits the discuss of specific staff members or an employment decision.
Four people in attendance – Jodi Main, Carrie Klatt, Nicole Miller and Cindy Krafve – chose to address the board with their concerns.
Main and Klatt, the only two to give public statements during the February 22 session, were the first to address the board at this latest meeting.
Main, who was the district’s school nurse and then oversight nurse prior to resigning last fall and is also seeking a seat on the board in the upcoming April 6 election, was the first to speak.
Reading from a prepared statement, Main said:
“Good evening everyone. Today I am here to share the backbone of my relevance in this movement.
As you are all aware, I was the school nurse here. I started my journey here with my practicum hours with Barb Rasmussen during my BSN degree. She taught me a lot and I enjoyed being in the school. She gave me the idea to apply after her retirement as she felt I was a strong nurse advocate for the School of GC.
I was approved April 25th, 2016 to be hired on as the nurse starting the 2016-2017 school year. During my first 2 years here, I built so many positive relationships in the school, children, parents and staff and was trusted greatly for my nursing knowledge by everyone.
In 2018, I resigned my position to pursue a dream of mine opening my own business which would allow more flexibility and income for my family. After my resignation, I was approached to continue to be the Oversight RN of the school. To make a long story short, I feel that this was a very successful transition to delegating and overseeing a health assistant in the school.
My professional relationship continued to be strong with all staff and administration which continued for an additional 2 years. Fast forward to the Pandemic…. It was a change for us all. Part of my job description was to collaborate, even before the pandemic, with Public Health regarding any communicable diseases. I assumed this pandemic situation wouldn’t be any different.
Even though I continued to work throughout the summer on meetings with the State of Wisconsin, Public Health and the school, my professional guidance in this pandemic was slowly taken away (by District Administration and the Pupil Services Director). This occurred as differences were identified in my recommendations – which were entirely based on evidenced-based guidance from the State and PH – and my direct supervisor and the Superintendent’s ideas were different.
As you will see in my resignation letter, that is now posted months after I submitted it, my district responsibilities were taken away from me. This lead to a great concern that it would impact my professional license directly relating to Chapter 6 of Standards of Practice for Registered Nursing. It is extremely hard to understand how my professional guidance as a Registered Nurse, with years of experience, was no longer “good enough” for these 2 Administrators to approve of. I also find it questionable that our district would terminate the employment of the District Registered Nurse in the middle of a pandemic.
Many staff were concerned by my departure and the loss of health-based leadership in the midst of this unprecedented public health crisis, one of these people would be our MS/HS principal who was always supportive of my professional responsibilities and decisions. Which brings us here.
On Jan 25th came the extremely surprising information that our successful MS/HS principal was under review, with the possibility of not offering a contract extension. He has no prior discipline issues as an administrator, that we are aware of (much like me), but now he has suddenly been doing so poorly a job as to subject him to a performance improvement plan and put in place a pay freeze in order for him to be offered a contract extension. All without him having a direct opportunity to speak with the Board about this situation. Then, less than 2 weeks later, the School Board rescinds the MS/HS Principal contract extension in a special meeting that was called by our superintendent to the school board via email on Feb 9th, meeting taking place Feb. 11th. Staff are concerned…… who is next. Watching your back, what you may say in fear of your job? Do we really accept that as our schools end game? Losing good staff in a very poor leadership environment.”
It was at this point that Board president Kaiser interjected to re-iterate the district’s policy on public comment.
“One of the things in our policy was not to make comments or reference to employees work situations,” stated Kaiser.
“I understand what you are saying,” Kaiser said to Main. “But one of the jobs of the Board is to make sure that policy is followed so I’m going to interject at this time and ask that specificities not be discussed. Thank You.”
Main acknowledged the request and was allowed to finish her statement saying, “We the parents/concerned citizens are here to make a change…. for our kids, for the staff/teachers that are here to teach our kids every day. Not just academically, but the true-life lessons of being a good student and a good person. What are you teaching them with how things are being handled this year? And to be honest, things haven’t been looking good with our district office for a while.”
Carrie Klatt was then acknowledge by Kaiser and rose to address members of the board and audience.
Also reading from a prepared statement, Klatt said:
“Good evening, I’m Carrie Klatt. I want to thank you all for being here and for taking the time to hear what I have to say.
Tonight, I wanted to address the issue of trust. Trust in our district begins the moment we cast a vote in a school board election. We as citizens trust that our elected board will guide the administration and staff in every way possible, so that the mission of “children first” is the #1 priority. We believe that the organization chart which shows the school board at the very top is how our district should be managed. We also believe that “the organization, management, and control of the School District of Glenwood City are vested in the Board of Education”, as stated in district policy #150.
Sadly, that trust is eroding, as we continue to learn that it may not be our school board making decisions, but rather, our administration.
We lose trust when listening to a statement, prepared by administration and not the school board, that tells us not to believe misinformation, but then fails to address the facts surrounding actions taken at the January 25 and February 11 meetings.
We lose trust when meeting minutes are missing information. According to Wisconsin Statute 19.88 sub 1, “unless otherwise specifically provided by statute, no secret ballot may be utilized to determine any election or other decision of a governmental body except the election of the officers of such body in any meeting.” Sub 3 states “the motions and roll call votes of each meeting of a governmental body shall be recorded, preserved and open to public inspection.”
We lose trust when board members are allowed to miss almost half of the board meetings in a year, but an administrator missing 1 board meeting warrants an investigation and a special meeting with negative consequences.
We also lose trust when that special board meeting is called by administration and not the school board, which appears to violate Wisconsin Statute 120.11 sub 2, which states “a special school board meeting shall be held upon the written request of any school board member.”
We lose trust when we’re told that confidentiality is of utmost importance, and are told that certain records were excluded from a records request for this reason while student names were included.
When we review board agendas and minutes and see employment applications with social security numbers in full view, we lose trust.
When we learn that our money is being invested into accounts rather than into our school, we lose trust.
Bottom line – we want that trust back. We want to know that “children first” is not just a catchy slogan but has actual meaning.
Nicole Miller, a mother of three children in the district, another former district employee and current head volleyball coach, then stood to deliver her prepared remarks.
“In doing some research of my own over the last month I am discovering many things that have raised a red flag for me and caught my attention,” began Miller.
“There is a lot of information our school board and administration is not being transparent to the public about. Last meeting they talked about clearing up misinformation. In my mind the only way people get misinformed it by not getting informed at all. Withholding the truth from parents about important issues that are happening in our children’s school does not sit well with me.
Elementary: What steps are you as a school board taking to stop the 5 year downward spiral the elementary has taken? Our state scores have gone down 16.4 points with an average of 5% each year. This issue needs to be addressed as it is what families look at before choosing what school they want to send their children to. It makes me question my children’s education and if they are getting the full education they are entitled to as it states in the GC school handbook.
I have had a handful of parents reach out to me from the elementary school letting me know that they have already enrolled their kids in a different school district for this Fall.
These Families also have young kids and could in the future use Hilltopper hang time for childcare. I hear this and it takes me back to the last meeting when you were discussing expanding the Hilltopper hang time program and possibly adding on to the school to do that. Where will the funds be taken from for this project and how will the school gain academically from it, specifically the elementary.
I believe we need to look at better ways of using our money and funds to IMPROVE the areas we are struggling in as a district instead of ignoring them and pushing through an agenda that seems to be only for financial gain of the district like investing our money in funds that are not associated with the school.
I am also wondering who the sole person responsible for scanning and going through records request before they are sent out? There is a HUGE student confidentiality breach in the records request I received last week. I urge you to look into that and inform the families of the breach.
Why are there so many discrepancies between the 2 records requests that were done in the last month? I have factual information to prove that.
Thank you for listening to my concerns.”
But arguably, the most impassioned and impromptu statement delivered Monday evening was given by Cindy Krafve, a retired school employee who served the children of the district, 4K through 12th grade, for nearly a quarter of a century before retiring five years ago.
“The last year that I worked here (at Glenwood City Schools), I got to work with Pat Gretzlock,” began Krafve. “I just want the board to be aware that this is an incredible man to be filling the position of principal for our school.”
“I got to work with him (Gretzlock) several times and I could give you many stories of how good he has been,” added Krafve.
She went on to share one such story with those in attendance.
Krafve said that about two years after she had retired she received a call from a special education student that she had worked with, and was now a junior, said that she was experiencing a difficult time in school and had applied for the Challenge Academy in Tomah.
Apparently the student had wanted Krafve to mentor her for two years. At that time, Krafve was doing jail ministry at the St. Croix County Jail in Hudson but eventually agreed to be a mentor for this young women.
Krafve said the student went to Tomah to participate in the Challenge Academy. For the first four weeks, they were not allowed to have any contact because it was like going to boot camp.
“I went down after two months to see her and the first thing she said was, ‘Ms. Krafve, Mr. Gretzlock was here to see me!’” recalled Krafve who then asked the young lady, “Why do you think he came to see you?”
“She said because he cares about me, everybody knows that,” said Krafve.
“She was so incredibly touched that he (Gretzlock) would take the time to come down and see her,” Krafve said.
Krafve said that her former student completed the course and her and her husband Al were invited back for her young girl’s graduation.
“When we were standing there watching the cadets do their thing, I said to Al, ‘Wow, Mr. Gretzlock is here and she is going to come out of her skin and she did,” continued Krafve. “She was particularly grateful that this man had come all the way down to Tomah to encourage her to stay strong and do what she needed to do to get through that.”
Krafve then looked at principal Gretzlock, who was seated at the board table, and said, “I just want to thank you again Mr. Gretzlock, I know you made a difference for this girl. And she came out of the Academy, she graduated and got her GED. She did wonderful.
Then addressing the board directly Krafve added, “This is the kind of staff that we need in this school. These kids know that he cares about them and that they have someone supporting them like that, they will do wonderful.”
“This isn’t just a school, this is our kids, this is our future,” stated Krafve. “We need to be able to provide for them the best that we can. And right now with COVID, we cannot be making any drastic changes to them. And not having Mr. Gretzlock here is not going to be a good change for them to have to face.”
“As the Board and the administration, I just really ask you to please to put some time into this, put some thought, seek out the truth in the information and give this man the chance to be in our school district again,” concluded Krafve. “Because I really believe he is suppose to be here, God has a purpose for him to be here and I would like to see him carry through with all that he has to offer us. Thank you for what you do and thank you for listening.”
As Krafve took her seat, a round of spontaneous applause erupted from the audience.
With no one else electing to speak to the board, the board returned to its meeting agenda.