Public Comments at March 13, 2017 I-S Regular School Board Meeting – Diana Jones
I am so grateful for the teachers, staff, and principals who are responsible for our children. This is not where I wanted to be tonight. I never wanted to be in this position.
All members of our community have a right and a duty to question things where answers do not seem readily available or don’t make sense. As a taxpayer, we are entrusting the school board to spend our money wisely and responsibly.
This school board, with the exception of Mr. Huettner and Mr. Wolberg, does not appear to understand what it really means to be held accountable to the taxpayers in our community.
Being in public office comes with a price – you must be willing to have your words and actions analyzed by the public, as though under a microscope. The public has entrusted you with a huge responsibility and your job is to take that responsibility seriously.
I can’t remember having seen people treated so disrespectfully as I did at the last board meeting. I was embarrassed with how the board members set up the agenda – not in a way to promote community involvement and to listen to the community, but as a way to bully them into silence (a 1 hour lecture and a 4 hour wait to speak). The response to the op ed piece that the school board commented on for an hour was 4 pages long. It is important to note that a letter to the editor in the newspaper is only allowed 500 words. This requires the writer to fit a lot of information in a very small space. The school board was not limited to a word count in their ability to respond.
At no time in the letter to the editor are the authors (Timdal, Olson, and Opperman) personally calling out anyone on the school board and saying anything about their character. The entire letter is based on searching out answers for the questions that the community has regarding the topics discussed. Some of these questions were asked of the school board prior to this opinion piece being written with no response or one that says they are unable to answer, forcing the community to search for answers on their own.
I was embarrassed at the language that was used towards people asking questions at the last board meeting because they couldn’t find answers (you said you were saddened and sickened). I was embarrassed as one member of the board rolled their eyes, mocked and ridiculed members of the community while they were speaking.
Many of these people who stood up have never spoken before a group of people in their lives and with courage they spoke in the face of board opposition, even after being ridiculed. That takes courage and strength.
My two items that I have focused on are the district administrator position and the tennis courts. I don’t have time to discuss both here, so I will focus on my perception of how the district administrator position was handled by the school board.
In a recent document that the school board put out (February 13, 2017 Questions Raised) the school board answered questions regarding Dr. Dyb’s leave approval. The board stated that Dr. Dyb’s leave and the appointment of the three interim district administrators was approved at the January 3, 2017 special board meeting.
In the minutes from this meeting, when the board convened into open session at the end, there was “no report and no action taken.”
If that is the case, how were they able to put him on leave on December 2, 2016 (one month prior to approval of the leave) and publish his leave in the Waupaca County Post on December 15, 2016 if it hadn’t yet been approved?
Looking back over previous minutes, precedents have been set. The May 14, 2012 board minutes contain the approval for the resignation of Joe Price. The June 11, 2012 minutes contain the board approval for Tess Lecy-Wojcik as interim administrator. There was no need for a closed session for the 2012 meetings and all votes were in public.
The December 2016 invoice from the school district’s lawyer has an entry for December 2, 2016 that states the following: 12/02/2016, SRL, Travel and attend meeting with administrators and Board members. Follow up regarding same.
Here is the problem, there is no announced board meeting on December 2, 2016. This is the day that District Administrator David Dyb was placed on leave. The invoice entry states that the lawyer traveled to meet with administrators (plural) and board members (plural). The other dates on this invoice contain the exact names of the board members the lawyer interacted with, including many times where only President Kristen Hoyord and Vice President Mike Koles are the only two mentioned. Why would the lawyer’s office change how they report who they conferred with for this one meeting and say that they met with board members, when they really only met with President Hoyord and Vice President Koles?
The “February 13th Questions Raised” document that the school board put out says that the only people present for the December 2nd meeting with the lawyer were Board President Kristen Hoyord and Vice President Mike Koles, along with Dr. Dyb.
Based on the invoice, the districts lawyer spent approximately 2.7 hours meeting with administrators and board members (with the lawyer’s travel time being approximately 5 hours round trip to and from Madison for a total of 7.7 hours).
An open records request was made by me for the employment contract, leave and sabbatical contracts that the district has with Dr. Dyb. The employment contract was delivered. The response for the other two was: With regard to Request Nos. 2 and 3, there are records that are responsive to your request that will not be disclosed. The decision to withhold these records is based on the fact that, as of the date of this letter, the public’s interest in the disclosure of these records is outweighed by the public’s interest in the confidentiality of such personnel records and the privacy and reputational interests of specific District employees.
If I was able to receive Dr. Dyb’s employment contract because the district acquired his permission, shouldn’t the board be able to ask his permission to release the two remaining contracts that were requested? I am requesting the board to acquire Dr. Dyb’s permission for me to view the leave and sabbatical contracts.
I would also like to know why there is a line item on the lawyer invoice which states the following on both December 21st and 22nd:
Review and respond to correspondence from Attorney Piontek regarding resignation agreement. Review and respond to correspondence from Ms. Hoyord and Mr. Koles regarding same.
On December 23, 2016, the lawyer invoices switch back to administrative leave. If Dr. Dyb handed in his resignation on December 21, why did you not accept it and instead switch him to administrative leave on December 23rd? Based on the information found in the December lawyer’s invoice and the fact that the November invoice to Sarah Thiel (that Dr. Dyb never saw) only references Dr. Dyb’s employment, suggests that Dr. Dyb did not hand in a resignation, but instead was given a resignation to sign.
I would love to believe that I am reading these invoices wrong, so I ask the board to provide any evidence that I am wrong. Just as I asked for the employment contract, leave contract, and sabbatical contract, I am now asking for an oral open records request for a copy of the December 21-22, 2016 resignation contract and/or letters that demonstrate that Dr. Dyb asked for a leave of absence and sabbatical or that he resigned in December.
After reading all of the emails that were received through the open records request, I can honestly say that the entire board (outside of Mr. Wolberg and Mr. Huettner) has worked in unison. Not one person (outside of Adam and Paul) has shown the integrity to stand up for the process of handling community concerns respectfully and with understanding. All I have seen is a board with something to hide. You don’t bully members of the community when you are doing things in an upright manner – you welcome conversation to bring unity. Your efforts at the last meeting to get people to give up and walk away were noted. I am disappointed at how this school board has treated a community that trusted you.
I have heard a few complaints about how the board needed the lawyer at the last board meeting because people like myself are asking questions and that the cost would be a lot.
Make a note of this, the board’s actions are the reasons that a lawyer needed to be present. It is their actions that have cost this community tens of thousands of dollars.
The lawyer, which is being paid for by tax payer dollars is for the good of the district, not for the good of protecting the board.
As a former editor and currently a publisher, there have been a few times in my career where I have been confronted by a writer or client regarding something that I have published. There have been times where I have had to swallow my pride and make things right – but that is what I did – made things right.
I am asking the board members (outside of Paul and Adam) to make things right. If you are not willing to do so, then I respectfully ask for your resignations.