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 past year and a half, the community comments portion of the Glenwood City School Board’s meetings have proven to be lightning rod for public opinion and this past Monday’s session was no different.
When former school district employee Nicole Brite, who is now the K-12 principal of the Clayton Schools, stopped by to thank and praise Glenwood City staff and administration for their work it ended up prompting comments from both sides of the board table at the March 28 meeting.
“I had no intentions of being here tonight but I was taking a walk this beautiful Spring evening and I got to thinking about school in general this year and my heart felt really heavy for all of you,” Brite began her comments directed to the board and administration.
“Over the last 13 years, I had the privilege to be here,” continued Brite who taught and later served as the district’s Director of Pupil Services and Special Education. “I got to see the ins and outs of my own children’s’ day, and be a part of their education and this year, for the first year, I couldn’t be here.”
“And I got to be thinking, Why? Why was my heart heavy ?” added Brite.
She said that she has reached out several times now being the mom that doesn’t get to be in the center of her child’s education, to both Mrs. Haltinner (elementary principal and Miss Burch (middle school/high school principal).
While she admitted that some of her emails may have been irrational mom emails, Brite said that she has only ever received nothing but respect from both of them.
“Respect because we’re adults, respect because we can say, ‘hey, we might not agree, we’re not saying you’re right, I’m wrong or vice versa. But we’re saying hey, I understand you’re a mom, you’re human. You’re here, someone who does this job day in and day out,” continued Brite. “And that’s that! That’s all I received from them is nothing but respect.”
Brite went on to share some of the communications and tidbits that staff and former co-workers shared with her over the past year that concerned her children.
“I know with open enrollment, anybody can go anywhere. But in my situation my kids can literally go to another school without really a whole lot more work,” said Brite. “And then I could be in the center of their day, their lives, their education when I want.”
“We chose to stay here (in the Glenwood City School District), we chose to stay here because I respect and I trust every single one of you with the most important people in my life, my children. If I didn’t trust any of you, they wouldn’t be here,” stated Brite.
“Over this last year I realized that not only are you my children’s teachers, my children’s administrators, paraprofessionals whatever you are in my life, but you are friends. And that’s what means the most to us. And that’s what I hope people see in this school district in this community,” she added.
“It’s hard. It’s hard for me to think that way. It’s hard for me to keep my kids here when people are publicly communicating my salary on social media,” Brite admitted.
“But you know what, that’s not what’s important. What’s important is that day in and day out they’re here. They’re safe. They’re loved, and they’re getting a great education. And I really appreciate it. I really appreciate all of you because if it wasn’t for you they wouldn’t be here,” concluded Brite who thanked the board for listening before departing the meeting.
Board vice president Jon Mrdutt then asked to speak.
He began by thanking Brite for coming.
“Nicole’s gone already but I just wanted to give her the credit that she deserves,” said Mrdutt. “I am sure it wasn’t easy especially when she wanted to be here, still to be teaching here to be quite frankly.”
“There is a number of people that want to be part of the school board,” Mrdutt noted thanking current member and candidate Sally Standaert and recognizing two other candidates – Amy Dopkins and Nicole Miller – that were in the audience.
“I can honestly say that the comments are very refreshing from Nicole (Brite),” acknowledged Mrdutt.
But the tone of his comments quickly turned.
“The public humiliation that quite frankly Amy (Dopkins) and Nicole (Miller) have brought to this district, the divisiveness and kind of breaking up the district. I’m saddened by it because there’s so many good things that are happening here (in the district),” stated Mrdutt.
“I mean, literally, I don’t know if it’s true on social media, and, frankly, I don’t pay attention to it. I’m old school and I’m from the minority here in this group,” continued Mrdutt. “But some of those messages aren’t so private on the private Facebook send you film and share that people share their stuff with me. But to get two board members out this year, get two members in next year and then ultimately fire the district administrators.”
“The messaging I hear from this group is amazing to me,” added Mrdutt. “And whatever the results are next week, I mean, luckily, that’s what we all get to live by. But there’s so many good things in this district that I’m proud of. I’m a graduate in the schools. Many, many of you are here too. But for a young lady like that (in reference to Brite), ultimately made the choice to keep her kids here, wish she could still be teaching here. You know, I just want to thank everybody that keeps a positive attitude.”
“There are so many good things here but for Tim (Johnson) to be publicly mocked and humiliated is quite frankly ridiculous,” Mrdutt stated.
Mrdutt went on to speak about the dozens of open records request the district has received as some individuals are “looking for some innuendos and conspiracy that didn’t exist”.
Mrdutt went on to say that board’s decisions are focused on the best interests of district and the children.
“I don’t ask anybody to agree with me personally, and maybe I’ll be shunned and ridiculed moving forward and I’m okay with that,” continued Mrdutt. “But, again, to personally attack a leader here again, that’s all people couldn’t find anything to hang their hat on. So now, instead, they’re going to just say, ‘Tim makes too much money’ ”.
“But I just want to publicly thank Nicole (Brite) and the people that support the district,” said Mrdutt. “I’m just here for the betterment of the 100 or so employees and the 700 and some odd kids, and families that consider Glenwood City their home. A small town like we are, we’re known for the school.”
“I certainly want to support this group,” noted Mrdutt in reference to the school board. “This group, whole heartedly, I support for all what we do. At the end of the day, what happens in those hallways we all care about.”
Mrdutt concluded by thanking everyone for listening to him and what the board and staff do every day.
Amy Dopkins, who is running in the April 5th election for a spot on the board along with Nicole Miller, responded directly to Mrdutt.
“You know, Jon, I don’t know that right now is the time and place to sit here and attack other people,” began Dopkins.
“You can sit here and say that you’re all about this and all about that. I don’t know where you’re getting your information from,” continued Dopkins. “But, there’s never anything said about getting rid of Mr. Johnson, firing him or whatever. I don’t even know where you’re getting that from.”
“And for you to sit here and point two of us out, individually, as a board member for two people that are going to be running for school board, I think that’s a pretty, pretty poor display right now,” stated Dopkins emphatically.
“So, I don’t appreciate that at all,” she added.
“There’s never been any talk about getting rid of Mr. Johnson. Public records are public records. That was started from the beginning with Cindi Kravfe and stuff just kind of opened up,” continued Dopkins. “It’s not anything against Mr. Johnson, it’s actually about the way money is spent here. Which is on everybody on the board.”
“I don’t think this is a very good way to start off a meeting. That’s just my personal opinion,” concluded Dopkins.
The board then closed public comments and moved on with the meeting.