School board to change complaint policy

By Sarah Pridgeon

Speaking at this month’s meeting of the Crook County School Board, Chairman Todd McInerney read a statement confirming that changes will be made to the process by which complaints can be brought before the board.

“For the past several months, our school district has been bombarded with accusations of misconduct, incompetency, student neglect, bullying and several other things,” he began. “So far, all allegations brought before the board and investigated thoroughly have been proven to be false, except for one. In that one instance, the board did take action concerning a teacher.”

McInerney noted that, as a community, people have the right and the responsibility to make the board aware of any problems occurring in the district. However, he said, the manner in which this has happened has proven to be flawed.

“No longer will this board allow false allegations and rumor to be sounded out before going through the proper chain of command dictated by policy,” McInerney continued. “Because our policies are not completely clear on the process, in the next several weeks, we hope to clarify that process through policy amendments.”

McInerney described the current atmosphere as one in which administrators and teachers are afraid to do their job for fear of being persecuted in the press or in public meetings.

“I would hope the main goal of each and every person in this district would be the education of our children. That is not happening at this time,” he commented.

McInerney stressed that he is not asking individuals to not share a complaint with the board, but wants them to realize that each individual employee who has allegations leveled against them deserves respect and decorum in handling these complaints.

“Rest assured that this board will treat these complaints with due diligence and answer them as best we can. If the complaints are legitimate and can be corroborated, they will be handled accordingly. Hearing public allegations is just one side of a story and is a disservice to all of us,” he said.

“Employees of this district who have grievances should be aware of the policies that spell out the process for these grievances to be brought before the board. We, the board, will not consider any grievances leveled by an employee who has not used the correct process,” McInerney concluded. “We all want to do what is best for the children of this district. That we disagree on how or what is OK. However, handling ourselves in a sneaky or disrespectful manner is not.”

Following the reading of the statement, McInerney also addressed the audience regarding rumors of teachers without certification within the district, saying that credentials are checked very thoroughly and this is absolutely not the case. He also noted that a committee is currently being convened regarding the petition that was presented to the board requesting an investigation into the Superintendent, Lon Streib, explaining that the board is awaiting arrival of the relevant materials, which will, for example, tell them how many people are needed, before proceeding.

The next regular meeting of the board will take place on September 17 in Moorcroft.