Amundson

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Overflow crowd at school 

board meeting, no action 

taken regarding principal

By Ted Pennekamp

 

There was standing room only at the regular Prairie du Chien School Board meeting Monday night with several of the more than 50 present gathered in the hall and pressing towards the door to the first floor meeting room at City Hall. 

Bluff View Principal Aaron Amundson spoke about his recent disciplinary leave of absence, and several parents, students and former students spoke to the board as well regarding Amundson. About half of the speakers supported Amundson and about half spoke against him in the wake of an incident on Dec. 23 in the Bluff View gym when he called a small group of students idiots and some students say they heard him use the word “kill” in anger. Many who spoke against Amundson brought up past incidents as well.

Amundson admitted having made a mistake and apologized again. He had apologized the first time in a letter that was released several days ago by Superintendent Drew Johnson, who had investigated the matter and placed Amundson on unpaid leave for five days. Amundson told those gathered and those watching on television that he would be willing to meet eye to eye with anyone regarding recent events. 

Amundson received a round of applause after he was done speaking, as did everyone who spoke thereafter. 

Parent Kurt Kravchuk was one of the first speakers. Kravchuk said that he feels privileged to have had Amundson guide his son. Kravchuk choked up at times as did several speakers both for and against Amundson. “He does a great job,” said Kravchuk about Amundson. “He’s very passionate. Everybody should be so passionate about what they do. Aaron, thank you.”

“He does more harm than good,” said parent Chris Iverson. “If he remains in school, our child is not going back.” 

School board member Lonnie Achenbach said he was speaking as a parent, not as a member of the board. Achenbach spoke in support of Amundson, but also said in part of his speech that his 11-year-old son was in the gym on Dec. 23 and that his son told him that he did not feel threatened by Amundson. Achenbach noted that there can be different interpretations by students who were at the same event.

Following the open session, the board met in closed session to discuss the discipline process and results regarding Amundson. 

“The Prairie du Chien Area School District is a high achieving district that has high expectations for students and staff. When concerns concerning operations of the district or the conduct of any of its employees come to the school board, the matters are taken seriously and handled procedurally in accordance with school board policies,” said School Board President Christine Panka following the closed session.

“With respect to the parental complaints concerning the recent actions of Mr. Amundson, the school board has reviewed the process and the outcome of the investigation.  Protocol was followed and the matter has been appropriately completed to closure. 

“At this time, there is no need for any further school board action. As is standard practice, the policy committee will review school board policies and procedures to determine if any updates will be recommended back to the school board. The school board appreciates all input and is confident that steps are in place to insure student safety.”

In other school board business Monday night, it was noted that the Prairie du Chien High School vocal jazz group “Out to Lunch” will perform at the Wisconsin State Education Convention at the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee which will be held from Jan. 21-23. Prairie du Chien, Westby and Cedarburg were the three schools who will have music groups performing. The groups were selected through an audition process. Entries were judged by the Wisconsin School Music Association. 

In further business:

•It was noted that the Bluff View Mathcounts program has enjoyed great success as did the Bluff View Food Drive. 

•It was also noted that the 3K and 4K winter concert at B.A. Kennedy was so well attended that it has outgrown the Little Theater and will need to be held in the gymnasium in the future. Also, there were full houses in the gymnasium for all music concerts across all levels.

•The board accepted a donation by the St. Peters Lutheran Church-Sunshine Fund for $70 to the school nurse for students’ needs. Also accepted was a St. Peter Hunger Jar donation of $383.56 to B.A. Kennedy.

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