A representative from a newly formed group of concerned parents spoke during the Monday, May 12 Sun Prairie School Board meeting, critical of Sun Prairie Area School District (SPASD) efforts to prevent bullying in its schools.
“The school works for us and every day we send our kids into those schools, expecting the safety of our kids to be protected,” remarked Kris Ganske, a parent four kids, including an eighth grader in the Sun Prairie Area School District. She recently formed the closed Facebook group “Sun Prairie Parents fighting for their children’s safety against bullies!”
“Numerous reports that I have, including those of kids physically battered multiple times, clearly indicate that our students are not safe and are suffering physical and mental harm due to the ineffective protection of students,” Ganske said, having to pause twice because she became emotional while reading her statement.
“Therefore, we are requesting from the board that the school provide factual information on an ongoing basis to confirm or deny existence of a student safety problem,” Ganske said. “Parents require proof of students’ safety. In the absence of such data, we will have no choice but to implement our own reporting system and publish it to inform the community and parents.”
Ganske also asked for clarification about what constitutes a bullying incident. She said there have been multiple reports of breakdowns in student discipline by challenging teachers with profanity.
“Our teachers are our greatest asset and must be protected from such flagrant attempts to diminish their authority,” Ganske said. “Are such incidents to be considered bullying?”
While she realizes that the district may not be able to stop single instances of bullying of one child, multiple incidents should not be tolerated. “We want the school to clearly spell out what disciplinary line in the sand exists to prevent a second attack. Our organization is extremely concerned about the rapid breakdown of the learning environment, especially when it could lead to such situations that recently occurred in Verona,” Ganske said.
“Such attacks force parents to leave the community or take other action necessary to protect the safety of their children and the right the children have to a public education,” Ganske said, adding that the group will be “relentless” in gathering data to prove children are safe. “We are eagerly awaiting a response.”
The school board could not respond because Ganske’s comments were made under Comments from the Public, but the district issued a statement later. the district issued a statement with links to SPASD’s policies and procedures about bullying.
As for Ganske’s claim the district isn’t doing anything to respond to bullying, the statement said in part, “…In almost all instances, consequences are not able to be shared with others in order to protect student privacy. This can be perceived as us ‘doing nothing about it.’”
Police, Bowling Team, BEP, BSU recognized
The board meeting kicked off with three recognitions and a showcase. The Bowling Team was recognized for its accomplishments over the last few years, including a national championship as well as state tournament apperances.
Brian Teasdale, Interim Chief of Police and School Resource Officers Tommy Foy and Lamont Crockett were recognized through a board proclamation read for their service during National Police Week. Teasdale also made a few comments in support of Police Week and thanked the board for recognizing the department.
The board also recognized the Business Education Partnership (BEP) with a proclamation marking 30 years as a partner to Sun Prairie’s schools. They coordinate programs including GRIT, Adopt a School, and Reality Rocks, to name only a few. Nancy Everson spoke about the fact that wherever she goes, she hears comments in awe that Sun Prairie has a BEP that has been in existence for three decades.
The board also heard a showcase from the Black Student Union (BSU), which just returned from a trip to St. Louis to visit Harris-Stowe State University, a historically black college or university. The board heard about how the group learned about the culture of the area.
Roof project OK’d
Acting on a recommendation from SPASD Director of Building and Grounds Kevin Sukow, the board approved a $1.548 million bid by Kaschak Roofing Inc. to replace portions of roofs at C.H. Bird and Royal Oaks elementary schools.
The total project cost will be $1,548,076, including materials, labor, contractor fees, consultant fees, and allowances with funding coming from Referendum Fund 49, according to Sukow. As part of the November 2016 referendum, SPASD residents approved $12,694,000 for district-wide capital maintenance and personalized learning updates.
Board to meet May 28
The Sun Prairie School Board is scheduled to meet for the second time this month on Tuesday, May 28 at the Sun Prairie Area School District office, 501 S. Bird St.
The meeting will be held at the district office because of a conflict with a special Sun Prairie Plan Commission meeting in the Council Chambers at the Sun Prairie Municipal Building, where the meeting would likely have been held. The meeting was moved to Tuesday because of the Memorial Day holiday on Monday, May 27.