I wasn’t planning on doing this story. Falsehoods are being spread in the aftermath of the Superintendent’s resignation, however, and it needs to be told.
Right before the end of the last school year in late May, four English teachers at the West Bend High Schools resigned. Obviously, this was abrupt and caused consternation for many folks since it was happening right before finals. Since it was an HR issue and there are employment laws in effect, the district administration and school board were unable to share the real reasons for the resignation. The Superintendent’s statement said, in part:
While we understand that the timing of these resignations is not ideal, the District accepted them due to the specific circumstances leading up to the resignations. Please know that while we wish to be as transparent as possible, due to confidentiality laws and out of respect for the privacy of the educators involved, we are unable to provide further details about the specifics of their resignations.
OK, fine. We were all left to wonder, but given the fact that the resignations couldn’t wait for the end of the school year, citizens were left to speculate the worst. On social media and elsewhere, leftists who already hated this superintendent, speculated wildly that the teachers were forced out because they opposed the administration, or that their opposition to the curriculum was being punished, or that they were being “silenced,” or whatever. Given that it was an HR issue, the district administration and school board could not comment.
At the time, I asked around and filed a few open records requests to get to the bottom of the issue. I did not end up writing the story because it was an HR issue, it was over, and I thought that the Superintendent, with the support, I assumed, of the School Board, made the right call. There was no need to further embarrass the teachers involved. If anything, these teachers were treated too kindly by being allowed to resign instead of being outright fired, but I suspect that the district wanted to avoid a protracted legal case.
Now that the Superintendent that the union hated has been forced out, the union president is publicly insinuating that one of the reasons is that the Superintendent mishandled this issue. She told the Milwaukee paper:
That conflict prompted an exodus of administrators, he said, and it erupted in May with the sudden resignation of four of the six English teachers at West Bend East and West High Schools just a week before summer vacation.
Olson’s handling of those resignations appeared to exacerbate the friction in the district.
“There was a general consensus that that was not handled well,” said West Bend Educators Association President Tanya Lohr.
“General consensus,” eh? She has said similar things in social media. She fails to offer any evidence or details to support her “consensus,” so allow me to shed some light on what happened.
So… why were the four teachers forced to resign? Was it because they were champions of education and the administration wanted to purge them? Was this an example of the Superintendent mishandling the issue?
Nope. They were forced to resign because they repeatedly displayed a wanton contempt for their students, parents, administrators, and fellow educators – often in racist and sexually-charged language. They did so when chatting with each other on the district’s Google platforms and in other forums, thus making their conversations a public record. They did so repeatedly, for a long time, and continued to do so after being warned to cease their behavior. After filing my open record request back in June, I have about 1,000 pages of these exchanges that reveal a lengthy portrait of people who should not have been teaching kids. Here are some examples of how these four teachers discussed their students, parents, and peers. I do have the source documents for these quotes. They are public records. But I’ll leave them off this post in order to not circulate the teachers’ names any more than necessary.
It discussing some petty crime in the parking lot:
“It’s all the fucking ghetto asses moving up her from Milwaukee to sell their drugs to the idiot kids that live in this town.”
In a discussion over a sexually-explicit book that one of the teachers had their kids read:
“Fuck it, there are other things parents can complain about. It would just make them look stupid.”
“I hope you’re right! I can’t even blame it on the curriculum!”
I think we can tell how this teacher feels about Republicans:
“Just being in the same room with you feels too republican”
In promoting dating techniques to students:
“I told them I knew people who internet dated and it worked for them, but high schools promoting it felt weird. It reminded me of how they did a bachelor/bachelorette auction at Brown Deer. That was especially weird because most of the kids were black and it was juuuuust a bit too similar to a slave auction.”
Talking about parent teacher conferences:
“I don’t want any [parents to show up]. The more that [don’t] show up the more valuable this conference becomes!”
After telling kids that she would be available to help them with a test:
“I have 19 kids in here right not! Ugh!”
“Test corrections. I told them they could come in from 7:30-9:00. Big mistake!”
Displaying concern about helping kids:
“When I’m done grading these shit papers! I really am choking on garbage!
“I seriously don’t remember shit about the planning meeting. Was I high?”
Incidentally, the pages are full of references to late night drinking, smoking pot, being hungover, etc.
Here’s how one of them spent their day:
“Now what are you going to do all day?”
“Shop on Amazon?”
“I walked into that one…:) I actually use FB for messages with people because I don’t want to use our email server”
Again about parent teacher conferences:
“Ha… stay away, parents!”
“I hope they forgot to tell the public”
“A few of the kids already mentioned it. Fuckers.”
Here’s an exchange between a couple of men about their fellow educators:
“I just don’t understand why we create out own drama”
“Because we are working in a department full of women”
Again with the conferences:
“I like being in the library.” “Shoot the shit inbetween moron parents.”
It goes on, and on, and on. What is evident is that the four teachers who resigned had little respect for parents, students, or their peers. Their banter is the kind of stuff that you might expect to hear from 25-year-olds in the bar after a few too many drinks, but they were doing it while in school, every day, for months on end, around kids, and on the taxpayers’ dime.
As I said earlier, the administration and the school board acted appropriately in this case to cut out the cancer. If the teachers union really wants publicly insinuate that the former Superintendent mishandled this and that this was a cause for his resignation, then let’s litigate the case with the actual facts. They are public documents, after all.
Update @ 1733. Senator Duey Stroebel offered this comment on the story.
It’s now clear former Superintendent Olson handled these inappropriate emails correctly.
No student, parent or community member should be mocked with explicit language – especially since those using bullying tactics are teachers.
Earlier this week, the West Bend Educator’s Association suggested this clear violation of public trust was not handled correctly.
Union teachers need to answer if bullying is ok and how they would have handled the situation.
Yesterday, the Washington County Insider posted a second politically charged survey offered to students.
Political agendas must stay out of the classroom.
Children must always come first.
It is unfortunate the many past achievements made by former board members, administrators and teachers are being shadowed by the lapse of judgement of some teachers.