Board VP criticizes district over black staff departures

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  • Hillary Gavan/Beloit Daily News (From left): School District of Beloit Board of Education Vice President David Wilson raised concerns about African-American staff leaving the district at Tuesday's board meeting. He is shown by board member John Winkelmann.

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    Munro

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    Wilson

  • Hillary Gavan/Beloit Daily News (From left): School District of Beloit Board of Education Vice President David Wilson raised concerns about African-American staff leaving the district at Tuesday's board meeting. He is shown by board member John Winkelmann.

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    Munro

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    Wilson

BELOIT - School District of Beloit Board of Education Vice President David Wilson was critical Tuesday night over what he said was a disproportionate number of African-American staff leaving the district.

Meanwhile, at Tuesday's school board meeting, the board hired three new administrators and considered a transition plan for Roy Chapman Andrews Academy (RCAA) students.

The meeting kicked off with a staffing update by Executive Director for Business, Human Resources and Operations JoAnn Armstrong, who said the district had 58.73 full-time equivalent positions unfilled as of Tuesday night. A year ago, in August 2018, there were 30 unfilled positions.

After the update, Wilson said he wanted to inquire about the numbers of staff of color leaving the district. Wilson cited a Facebook post from former board member Dennis Baskin which listed 16 African-American staff members who resigned or moved on, had positions eliminated, were demoted or put in subordinate positions. Wilson questioned how many of the new hires were African-American, and Armstrong said she didn't have the statistics he was asking for at the time.

Wilson said he had discussed the issue of black staff leaving with board member Megan Miller earlier. He said the district had issues with race and he was concerned no one was discussing what he considered to be an obvious and glaring problem.

"I hope you lose sleep," Wilson told the board.

Superintendent Stanley Munro responded that it's his job to make sure the best people are in front of students to improve academic achievement.

"We will never waver from that," Munro said.

Munro said he makes the final decisions on who to hire. No one aside from him, and his executive team, is privy to staff performance and interviews and staffing presentations.

"I feel the best people are in front of our students," Munro said. "We are in a good position moving forward."

Munro said decisions on who to appoint - whether principals, assistant principals, deans or teachers - will have a lasting impact years into the future. Munro also said there needs to be a more concerted effort to hire Hispanic administrators.

Although Wilson said Munro's words sounded good, Wilson said he questioned what it meant and didn't think it was an adequate response.

During Tuesday's meeting, Executive Director of School Leadership and Equity Peggy Muehlenkamp also updated the board on the transition plan for students of Roy Chapman Andrews Academy (RCAA). She said she had met with the families of 28 students to help transition the students into other programming such as their home schools, other schools in the district, virtual school, Beloit Learning Academy and the Challenge Academy. Munro said the RCAA board will be meeting to discuss its next steps. Later in the month and after the RCAA board meets, Munro said the board of education will vote whether to close or keep the school open.

In employment recommendations, the board voted to hire Monica Krysztopa to be chief of communications and marketing at a salary of $96,000 a year. When Munro was asked if Public Information Officer Brian Vissers was also still employed with the district he declined to disclose any further information, noting it's a personnel matter.

Krysztopa previously was the new business development and marketing manager for Community Health Systems Inc., hired in January of 2017.

The board also approved the hire of the following administrators: Director of Instructional Leadership, Equity and Accountability, William Greymont, $115,000; Director of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), Equity and Innovation Kelley Grorud, $115,000.

The board also voted to accept the resignation of Beloit Memorial High School Assistant Principal Janay Banks-Wilson, wife of Vice President David Wilson.

In closed session the district discussed a "claim against the district" which was listed on the agenda. In an interview after the meeting, Board of Education President Pam Charles said the board came into open session to vote on a motion to deny the claim.

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