John Torinus has a rather interesting column about the West Bend School District that has something of a bombshell at the end. The majority of the column is kind of a “let’s all get along and support the new school board” piece, but he drops this at the end:
Their leadership will probably mean further change at the executive level. The board majority deserves to have its own team in place.
The foremost ingredient in that effort will be leadership. Let’s get behind the new board majority and its selection for superintendent.
Here’s the back story… the current Superintendent, Erik Olson, was hired by the school board in July of 2016. In April of 2017, a triumvirate of candidates swept the board and, with Board President Tiffany Larson, constitute a new majority that has a much more liberal governing philosophy than the previous board.
In August of 2017, Superintendent took ill. I know for a fact that this was not fabricated or a cover. He was seriously ill and had to take a leave. He hasn’t returned since – presumably because his health won’t permit it, but the school board can’t comment due to privacy laws.
Now, in November of 2017, we have Torinus essentially saying that the board is embarking on a search for a new superintendent. Is the School Board using an employee’s illness as an excuse to purge him to hire their own superintendent? Is West Bend a district where the administration will be purged after every change in the school board? It would be very difficult for them to get a new superintendent in place before they put the expected referendum on the ballot next year, but perhaps they want “their guy” in place before doing that? They are also about to release a new compensation plan for the teachers that was essentially written by the teachers union. Do they need Olson out of the way before doing that?
An interesting point is that Olson has been on an Administrative leave instead of using the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The difference is that if he was out on FMLA, the school board is required to hold his position for him. If he’s on an administrative leave, he retains full pay, but the board doesn’t have to maintain employment. Convenient, eh?
I have asked Tiffany Larson for comment, but she has never responded to me since she was elected.