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0650, 14 Apr 15

West Bend School Superintendent Apologizes for Firing

You don’t see this very often. This is a followup in the West Bend Daily News to the firing of Don Gruber a few weeks ago.


Daily News

Former West Bend East girls basketball coach Don Gruber was offered his position back after a grievance meeting with West Bend School District Superintendent Ted Neitzke and Chief Operations Officer Valley Elliehausen.

Gruber declined the offer, upset the school administration would jeopardize the eligibility of its students.

On Monday, West Bend School District Superintendent Ted Neitzke issued an apology to East girls basketball players, parents and coaches at the School Board meeting for the way the situation was handled.


Neitzke said after Monday’s meeting he wouldn’t comment on whether there will be any disciplinary action for Hansen or others involved.

“We did the right thing; we did the process in the wrong order,” Neitzke said.

What actually happened here is still murky. What we know is that Gruber was fired for unstated reasons but it was presumed that it was because of his team’s poor winning record; he filed a grievance; he was offered his job back but refused because of the conditions offered; and now the superintendent is publicly apologizing. Clearly, something was seriously amiss with the firing.




0650, 14 April 2015


  1. Mark Maley

    Indeed – my letter to the school board generated the apology . The apology was a band aid on a gaping wound of bad publicity

    -there was no documentation made by the East AD ( Shane Hansen) of concerns about Gruber’s performance or meetings to express misgivings about the program directions. The firing was a 100% violation of District protocol .

    -the conditions- after admitting the entire firing was a mistake ,was for Don to fire his daughter who had coached for the East Girls program for 9 years – and had 9 positive reviews in the 9 previous years she had coached
    She was hired by Joe Pintens . Because a coach pulled out 3 weeks before the season started , Don’s daughter Ellie had to coach the freshman. In his firing meeting Shane Hansen (East AD ) asked if the Gruber daughters would like to continue coaching under the new coach . 10 days later , their firings of Don’s daughters was a condition of Don getting his job back. This was an offer he was going to refuse and the district knew it.
    It was made clear to Don that Hansen was his boss , that no actions would be taken against Hansen and that the terms for his rehiring were coming from “concerns ” Hamsen had but had never discussed or documented

    – the East AD is being depicted as someone who just needs mentoring and that he will learn from his mistakes . He was sold to the district as a wunderkind 30 year old with 8 superlative years at 2 HS’s with an agenda to do in WB what he had done other places . With that experience , his next steps were not not of a neophyte but were directed at Gruber and the players who came to his office to protest the firings .

    – the East AD called the WIAA after a call from a person they will not name . Instead of setting up a review process , Hamsen declared 8 East Girls Basketball players ineligible for impermissible benefits . This would not be the process in any HS in the country and to excuse Hansen for “process issues” is a insult to our collective intelligence by the Superintendant .

    – Principal Greymont began calling players to tell them of their loss of a season of eligibility . He was smart enough to ask the first 2 players he talked to where their jerseys were . One said that she had forgotten , the other had hers for a senior picture . The district says the principal made the calls but stopped because he had to visit a sick relative. That would be fine if any other calls to parents had been made by someone – like the East AD. In theory , every player in the basketball program was a suspect yet the investigation ended with 2 calls .

    The district played down the actions made with Malice against the players and coach. My sense is that the
    principal was set up by the Hansen. The principal made the calls to announce the suspensions but after 2 , the principal saw this was a witch hunt .

    Who is to blame ?
    The firing and the developing of a case as a cheater against Gruber , involving the loss of player eligibility point 100% to the Superintendants Golden Boy – Hamsen . His actions are fire able in any business setting unless he has an Angel who will save his job no matter what he does .

    My sense is the principal got suckered into the calls , then figured out at 2 that his AD had a chilling agenda and stopped without instructing anyone to make future calls

    That’s where the Superintendant comes in. He has told anyone who will listen that he was not involved in the firing . Yet after the firing and the subsequent 5 articles in the paper ( 3 above the fold ) , it’s inconceivable that he wasn’t informed of the suspensions precisely because of the furor the firing caused . When all will say they were on vacation, cell phone logs would prove who talked to a Whom that week .
    So the letter of deliberate miscommunication , the immediate suspension of players and the retention of Hansen are 100% on him.
    The Superintendant IS very sorry , that his administration got caught.

    Hansen has to be fired

    Gruber can then work with Hansens replacement

    The East principal needs a note in his file that states he should never listen to administrators with a Napolean Complex .

    The Superintendant simply needs to stop Lying ,Stop covering up and be as accountable as a real CEO would be for his actions and Hansen. .The facts say the AD must go . If he doesn’t , what does that say about the character of Ted Neitzke ?That he has none, none at all.

  2. Kevin scheunemann


    You again re-affirm the need to separate education and state.

  3. Tim Stepanski

    Mark – the new edition looks great! Great job in raising the funds and all of the hard work. Thank you also for the hard work of the foundation in helping raise funds for scholarships – my daughter is a recipient of one to which we are very thankful (I told her they must have not put two and two together when they saw her last name) I hope you can take some time, sit back – RELAX end enjoy your work :).

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