Letter - Gehrke defends actions
By: Sandy Gehrke, Hudson, Hudson Star-Observer
Gehrke defends actions
It would have been nice if our “fair” press, the Hudson Star-Observer, had contacted me before printing Attorney Waldspurger’s alleged “findings.” I would have told them that I admitted to only one supposedly improper action. I called an acquaintance who is also a school district employee. The biased article in last week’s Star-Observer could have been written by the board’s attorney. This is a she-said-she-said situation with no neutral judge.
I was not told I was going to be publicly lynched on July 10. It appeared that other board members knew I was to be skewered, but I did not. I did not prepare a defense since I didn’t know I was going to be tried, convicted and punished by the school attorney who acted as investigator, judge and jury. Independent investigation? You decide. The superintendent said to me after the board’s inappropriate action, “Sandy, now that this is behind us I hope you can learn to trust the administration and the board.” The message? We slapped you good, now get on board and play nice.
Here’s my problem. The restrictive school board “rules” state I cannot talk to an employee of the school district concerning school issues. There are roughly 550 district employees. Some are friends, some are acquaintances, many are voters in this district. If a district employee calls me I cannot talk to them. I must refer them through the chain of command to the superintendent’s desk. And I cannot contact employees either. How can I represent voters if I can’t communicate with them?
I have been on the board for three months. President Tom Holland has told me that I represent all of the people and the St. Croix Meadows referendum passed so I need to support it. The board attorney told me that even though I oppose an action, once the board adopts a position I must publicly get behind it. I told them no, they will not take away my First Amendment right to free speech. They are unhappy with me. That’s the real reason for the shocking surprise public lynching.
Contrary to Waldspurger’s misstatement that they can remove me from the board, the only people who can do that are the voters. Waldspurger needs a refresher course in Wisconsin law. I have 33 more meetings. I intend to be prepared, informed and respectful. I expect the same from the board members and the administration.
Sandy Gehrke, Hudson
Board of Education member