Boots & Sabers

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1730, 02 Aug 17

Promoting Friends

An anonymous reader alerted me to a possible conflict of interest on the West Bend School Board. You may recall that the West Bend School Board has been on a tear recently. With no public input or discussion, and after apparently illegally discussing the matter in closed session, the school board split the high schools principal position into two positions and appointed two vice principals to those positions. The board bypassed any semblance of a hiring process. They did not post the positions internally or externally. They did not accept any applications. To date, nobody on the school board has explained why the two new principals were chosen over their peers or why the district did not solicit applications for the jobs.

We may be getting closer to an explanation.

The two appointees are Ralph Schlass and Darci VanAdestine. I have been told by multiple sources that Board President Tiffany Larson and her husband, Ron Larson, are friends with Ralph Schlass. Larson has been the one responsible for driving the hiring process and bypassing normal hiring procedures or best practices. The anonymous reader who contacted me is a graduate of West Bend West and has access to the yearbooks from 1989-1990. Mr. Schlass and Mr. Larson were both graduates of West Bend East (classes of 1990 and 1989, respectively) and both played on the basketball, football, and baseball teams their entire high school careers. In short, these two spent a lot of time together and it is not much of a jump to think that they were close acquaintances if not fast friends.

So… given the apparent close personal relationship between the Larsons and Schlass, is it appropriate for Tiffany Larson, in her role as the West Bend School Board President, to bypass a fair hiring process to appoint promote Schlass? Schlass may indeed be the best candidate for the job, but we will never know if there isn’t a fair process that is open to all applicants.

The School Board has not executed the contracts to appoint Schlass or VanAdestine. That is on the schedule for the August 14th meeting. I have also heard whispers that they might call another “emergency” special session and do it earlier. In either case, it is not too late for the School Board to slow down and allow for a fair, open process to find the best possible principals to lead the West Bend High Schools forward.

I have contacted Larson for comment, but she has refused to respond to me on previous inquiries.

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1730, 02 August 2017

1 Comment

  1. Mark Hoefert

    There were several cryptic statements of advice in the letter in the earlier post Рfrom Rick Parks, former Board member/President.  Perhaps that explains this one:  Excusing yourself from a hiring process if you have a personal relationship with a candidate. In tort law this is a broader standard than the current district ethics policy or even state statutes on conflict of interest.  It could include friendships that might promote favoritism in the hiring process.

    Reminds me of the issue with the 4 English teachers that were asked to resign – I get the vibe that some people know and aren’t talking about it. There are those that can’t because of ethics and confidentiality, and there are others not subject to those boundaries but choose not to say anything because it might not favor their positions.

     

     

     

     

     

     

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