Dave Boetcher

Waunakee school board president Dave Boetcher is the focus of a recall effort by more than a dozen parents. The parents have started a group called “Families for Waunakee School Excellence” and a website by the same name.

The group “Families for Waunakee School Excellence” initiated recall efforts against board of education president Dave Boetcher in late November.

Since then, the group has been circulating a petition to collect the 2,612 signatures it would need.

Members took part in an interview with the Waunakee Tribune recently to explain their reasons for seeking a recall of Boetcher and what they hope to accomplish if that effort proves successful.

“We felt that he wasn’t fulfilling his role as a school-board member, resulting in some missed educational opportunities,” said Katie Dotzler, a parent of both a high-school and middle-school student. “And with a year and a half left in his term, we just feel like we can’t afford to continue missing out on these opportunities and have mismanagement during this time of crisis.”

A substitute teacher, Dotzler has announced her intention to run against Boetcher in a recall election should her group acquire the necessary number of signatures by its Jan. 18 deadline.

The winner would serve the remainder of Boetcher’s three-year term, ending in 2022.

Members declined to comment on the number of signatures their group had collected so far, but said they were “pleased with participation” in the recall effort over the past three weeks.

“To answer the question of what we’ve seen,” parent Kris Beutel said, “we’ve been pleasantly surprised, and overwhelmed frankly, with the positive support that we have seen since we filed. We have all gotten a lot of really positive feedback from community members.”

Members have held more than a dozen signing events since Nov. 19, when they filed a statement of intent to circulate the recall petition, and have been collecting signatures at people’s homes as well.

They recently launched website to address several questions they’ve received from residents.

Boetcher responds

The website has listed several arguments for why members believe Boetcher should be recalled. Tribune staff reached out to Boetcher last week to gather his thoughts about the group’s effort.

“It was somewhat expected,” Boetcher said. “You know, the whole pandemic and everything that’s going on is so difficult. And there’s no single answer…. So it’s not a big surprise. It’s unfortunate; I wish it wasn’t such a divisive thing. But people have a right to do it.”

The recall group has argued that Boetcher “overstepped his role” by reportedly policing students outside of school, alleging that he monitored their behavior in public parks and athletic facilities.

They cited a social-media post in which Boetcher condemned social gathering on a baseball field.

The school-board president was asked about the validity of the allegations, and whether he had reported such behavior to authorities. Boetcher denied engaging in any policing activities.

“I don’t run to parks to look for anything; that’s not the intent,” Boetcher said. “I’m just making a general comment, saying that we need to somehow get the spread to start going down or we’re going to head in the wrong direction. So they may say it’s policing, but it’s just casual observation living in Waunakee.”

The group has also alleged that Boetcher ignored the expertise of district staff.

They pointed to a recent school-board discussion in which high-school principal Brian Borowski advocated for medium- to high-risk sports to be allowed this winter, but Boetcher voted against it.

Boetcher explained that he was following advice from the districts’ medical advisory committee.

“Part of the reason I helped form that committee was to get that type of advice, so that we would know what is safe for the students and what is safe for our facility,” Boetcher said. “So I voted with their advice, and I was the only one who voted that way.”

Lastly, the recall group has argued that Boetcher engaged in inappropriate social-media activity by commenting on issues related to the school district and its students.

They noted his participation in a community Facebook group listed as private.

“The one they don’t like is this Waunakee, Can We Talk? Facebook page,” Boetcher said, “which has several thousand members on it. And I look at it as, the most important thing an elected official can do in their community is to listen, interact and talk with the people who live there. You can do that in various ways. Social media is just one way of doing it.”

Those seeking more information about the Families for Waunakee School Excellence’s recall petition should visit https://www.familiesforwaunakeeschoolexcellence.com/.

Boetcher has asked that those who wish to support him send a written check to “Friends of David Boetcher.” The school-board president said all of the money will be donated to a nonprofit charity.

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