The Glasgow Courier - Serving Proudly As The Voice Of Valley County Since 1913

By Bonnie Davidson
The Courier 

Nashua School Board Faces Controversy

Para Professionals Put On Administrative Leave

 


For the small town of Nashua, quite a few (just over a dozen) showed up to the local school board meeting to not only voice their concerns, but to see if they could get an answer for a recent event that has left some parents feeling unsettled.

Before the meeting got down to business, parents spoke up during the public comment segment. Bonnie Dunning Wooley brought up a letter from the school board about Individual Education Plan (IEP) not being completed in time. She said she also had concerns about the recent release of staff members (para professionals) on March 26.

The school board members brought up that they could not discuss staff and personnel issues, due to privacy concerns and they would not discuss students during a public meeting. Wooley said she understood that there were privacy concerns on the topic, but she had some issues with the inability the superintendent has had to answer questions.

She said that the issue with scheduling with her IEP meeting in the past had always been accommodated as she works heavily during tax season, they had always scheduled her meeting after April 15. She felt attacked from the letter she got from the local school board and said she also had concerns about why she hadn't been notified about staff being relieved from their positions that was working with her child. She said if there were privacy concerns, she wanted to know how the school board had knowledge of her son's IEP.

“The communication level, there's a lacking of it,” Wooley said. “I've tried talking to the superintendent about the situation and I couldn't make contact.”

She added that she wanted the board aware of the lack of communication. School Board Chair Brenda Koessl responded that the discussion was on the line of a privacy issue and they didn't wish to discuss personnel in public. They also explained that they don't run the school.

“Our primary job is to put a superintendent in place,” Koessl said.

She added that they weren't there to manage daily operations and they weren't there full time, but that the board functions as best they can. She said they were unaware with the lack of communication.

“I can assure you we're following procedures under the advisement under the Montana Office of Public Instruction's legal department,” Koessl said.

Wooley asked why the teachers were fired. Koessl responded that they couldn't discuss the details publicly because of privacy concerns. She did say that the school board fully supported the superintendent, Jennifer Cunningham. Vivian Stover responded that the public had a right to know why the teachers were fired. Koessl added again that this was dancing the line of privacy concerns.

Wooley said that concerned parents were present that wanted to know the details, as the teachers fired worked one-on-one with their children. Koessel said that she could understand the concerns, but they trusted the superintendent's decision. She said that they could no longer discuss the issue.

“We trust that the superintendent will find the appropriate people to work in all departments,” Koessl said.

Stover spoke up and said that the whole town was upset about the teachers being fired. Another man in the crowd asked if the teachers were fired or on administrative leave. Koessl responded that the teachers were in fact on administrative leave and were continuing to receive pay. Wooley then asked what funding was covering the positions that would be filled. Koessl said that the operational funds were covering the expenses. Koessel then said that the public comment was to allow public to speak on the agenda items and that concerns should be directed to the superintendent.

Stover then stated that her daughter was one of the teachers put on administrative leave and voiced that she had no communication on the reasoning for her dismissal and that they wanted communication before they hired a lawyer.

At that point the conversation came to a close and the school board continued with their regular business on the agenda.

 

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