Before approving a new three-year contract for the district’s superintendent, Blue Earth Area (BEA) School Board members got an earful during at their meeting held Monday night.
A large crowd forced the board to hold the “public input” portion of the meeting in the middle school gymnasium. Again, the topic of bullying took center stage.
Those in attendance demanded something needs to be done or school administrators who are in charge should be fired.
“Do you believe the administration has enough credibility to act on this or anything else?” Larry Anderson asked board members.
Dale Hurley, whose son was assaulted by four BEA football teammates, says he and others are being intimidated for speaking out.
“We need change and I want answers,” he says. “I am calling on you guys to figure out this problem.”
Randal Anderson has been a substitute teacher in the district and says administrators must look at what he calls “ a toothless disciplinary structure” that doesn’t discourage disruptive behavior in the classroom.
John Huisman, a Blue Earth City Council member and former principal in the district, says he doesn’t know why administrators decided to let the four students return to school.
“I am hear to talk about student safety,” he says. “When I learned these students were allowed back in the building, that really concerned me.”
Huisman says he is aware the district is obligated to educate the four students, however, the judge did not specify how that should be done. He says there are alternatives, such as, home bound instruction.
“There are times when the school district and School Board needs to take the bull by the horns and do something,” he adds.
District officials did get some support and a vote of confidence from high school science teacher Julie Ackerman.
“I am astounded at what is being said tonight,” she says. “I am proud of our school. I am proud of our students and administrators. I have never worked under a principal who is so dedicated to his job.”
“He handles things by the book and by the law. I have no fears of my children going to school here,” she adds.
After residents had their say, board members returned to the district office meeting room to resume the meeting.
Board member Jesse Haugh read a summary of a positive job performance evaluation for Superintendent Evan Gough before taking a vote on his new contract.
“I don’t think it’s a good summary,” says board member Jeremy Coxworth. “I don’t disagree with any of it. But, we just didn’t talk about Evan’s evaluation.”
Sara Hauskins recommended the board give Gough a one-year deal because of a letter given to the board outlining five changes that needed to be made.
She says that information was provided following Gough’s evaluation behind closed doors on Nov. 20 and was not made available to her.
“Our community is speaking out loud and clear through news outlets, e-mails and personal contact,” she says. “The school is not providing the best learning environment.”
On a 4-3 vote, with Hauskins, Coxworth and Amber Patten voting against, board members approved a three-year contract for Gough.
He is currently earning $126,814 a year and would see 2 percent annual pay increases beginning the 2018-19 school year.