New Berlin parents are expected to gather outside of New Berlin High School to show support of the district’s teacher and voice their displeasure in the district’s school board. More than a dozen parents, current teachers, and current and former students attended the special school board meeting last Thursday via teleconference to make public comment in support of 3 district teachers who had been under independent investigation by the district since last December.
Holly Kotner, a parent of 5 children in the district, was one of the first to make public comment in the meeting last Thursday. She says that she’s extremely disappointed in the lack of support that board has for the district’s teachers. She says she doesn’t understand why Math Teacher and Baseball Coach Joe Kindred has been dismissed by the district. “We really want the board to know that we have the teachers’ back. The overwhelming majority – I’m sure there are people who don’t feel this way – but the overwhelming majority of the community seems to be in great support of Joe and the rest of the teachers. I think just how the whole thing was handled was, I don’t know if improper is the word for it, not handled well. All we are being told is that there was a student record violation, which doesn’t seem sufficient to fire a tenured teacher that has put in a significant number of years serving our children, basically, whether it’s been in baseball or in the classroom.”
Kotner says that district parents haven’t received the full story from the board on Kindred’s alleged misconduct: “We just want more transparency from the board. It just seems like, at that board meeting, there was probably 15 people that spoke out – kids, previous players, parents, other teachers – in support of Joe; and it just feels like it falls on deaf ears a lot. The community has requested multiple times that the board starts listening to the majority of the community, and that doesn’t seem to be happening for some of them. I don’t even want to lump the whole board in, because it was not a 7-0 vote. It seems like the whole situation could have gone a different direction that wasn’t going to impact our school and our community so much.”
Kotner says that multiple parents, another board member and other teachers have asked for Board President Bill Alexander to resign. She says that the board’s lack of acknowledgement of those requests is yet another example of the board not listening to the community. Kotner says that accusations levied at Kindred’s hacking of social media has also never been addressed publicly. Kotner says questionable comments began appearing on a Change.org petition to have Anderson and Vice Chair Chris Gordon removed: “During that time [that the petition came out], some social media comments started popping up on the petition’s web page showing that it was from our board president, Bill Alexander that were threatening towards other community members, that were talking about the community as a whole being not as smart as him. I reached out to some board members and I know numerous other people did regarding it, and we were told that his account had been hacked. No public statement was ever made by him or the board about it at the board meeting last week regarding it. To outside people, it raised the question of how can we support this time of leadership.”
Kotner said she has seen a lot of positive support on social media for the teachers and the protest and believes there will be a good turnout for tonight’s rally, which begins at 6PM. Those attending the event are asked to practice social distancing and wear face masks. Kotner hopes the rally is a sign to the board that they need to reinstate Kindred and change their way of doing business.