Schools

Wed
05
Feb
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Governor, Hacktivist Latest To Weigh In On Teacher 'Porn' Controversy

Because of weather cancellations on Monday and Tuesday of last week, teacher Andrew Harris did not actually start his new job teaching science at Kromrey Middle School until Wednesday morning. That didn’t stop a series of events surrounding his controversial return to the classroom from unfolding, however.

Four years ago Harris was fired for having opened e-mails containing adult images on his school computer. The ensuing investigation revealed other staffers had viewed adult images on school computers as well, but they received suspensions, and were not fired. At no time were any students exposed to any of the e-mails in question, school officials determined.

The local teachers’ union took Harris’ case to arbitration and won. Subsequent court appeals upheld the arbitrator’s decision, and last week, Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District officials finally agreed to abide by the ruling. Harris has been rehired.

Wed
29
Jan
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Andrew Harris, the teacher whose return to the classroom after being fired for pornographic emails ignited a firestorm of controversy, speaks

Last week, as he prepared to re-enter a seventh grade classroom after a tumultuous four-year absence from teaching, science teacher Andrew Harris said he understands the concerns many parents have about his return.

“If I were a parent in this situation, I would want to know what’s going on,” said Harris, who will take part in a teacher work day at Kromrey Middle School on Friday and then begin teaching students there on Monday. “I made a mistake, and I’m sorry for the mistake I made. I’d like to rebuild the trust, show people that I’m a good teacher.”

Thu
02
Jan
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Cheating Allegations at MHS

The Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District re-administered a math test and plans to delve into some of its policies and procedures following allegations that students cheated on recent exams.

In a message sent to parents and guardians late last week, Middleton High School principal Denise Herrmann said the district recently discovered a calculus exam was “compromised.”

That exam, which took place on Tuesday and Wednesday, was re-administered after the district learned of the allegations.

“In response, we launched an investigation that included interviews with staff and students as well as a review of video footage,” wrote Herrmann. “We also received several letters from students and parents which provided additional information to the scope and severity of cheating on tests in courses across the curriculum.”

Wed
27
Nov
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Want To Run For School Board?

Residents interested in learning more about becoming a member of the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District Board of Education are invited to attend one of two orientation sessions to be held in the next month.

The sessions will be held on Monday, Dec. 2 and Monday, Dec. 16 at 6:30 p.m. at the District Administrative Center, 7106 South Ave., Middleton, before the regular meeting. Superintendent Don Johnson, Board president Ellen Lindgren and other BOE members will be available to answer your questions and provide more information.

There are nine members who make up the Board of Education and each year three seats are up for election. Citizens residing in the areas are invited to run for the Board of Education for a three-year term.

This year’s seats up for election are:

* Area II, currently held by treasurer Bob Green.

* Area IV, currently held by clerk Annette Ashley.

* Area IV, currently held by Bob Hesselbein.

Thu
24
Oct
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Celebrating Homecoming... and Equality

Middleton High School’s homecoming parade took place on October 11.  The procession featured an array of clubs and organizations, as well as plenty of school spirit. Pictured here are Sharon Buchholz (with sign) and other members of the Sexuality and Gender Equality (SAGE) club. 

Wed
18
Sep
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Speakers at Performing Arts Center Event Take Jabs At State's Education Plans

The title – “How Many Kids Left Behind? An Interactive Community Conversation on the Future of our Public Schools” – said it all. 

The Middleton School Board hosted a meeting Sept. 5 in the Performing Arts Center featuring a panel of public figures who spoke about school funding. Among them were state senators Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma), and Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center), Julie Underwood, the Dean of Education at UW-Madison, Jeff Pertl, a Department of Public Instruction (DPI) policy advisor, and Joe Quick, the government relations specialist with the Wisconsin Association of School Boards.

The meeting discussed the current state of the state’s education budget and the “shadow” school system involving vouchers, various charters and private school reimbursement. The panel discussed the financial impact of these relatively recent developments, especially on rural districts with shrinking enrollment.

Wed
18
Sep
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School Board Could Have Settled Porn Dispute For $21,000

The Middleton Cross-Plains Board of Education could have accepted the resignation of a middle school teacher who viewed pornography on a school computer in 2010 for about $21,000, but instead has spent $600,000 in legal expenses trying to fire him, according to documentation provided by an attorney representing the teacher.

The school board suspended and then put Glacier Creek teacher Andrew Harris on administrative leave at half pay in January 2010 after discovering about 22 emails on his classroom computer that contained sexually explicit images.

At that time, Harris’ attorney, William Haus, gave superintendent Don Johnson an offer that included Harris’ resignation in exchange for allowing the district to immediately fill his position, write a mutually agreeable letter of reference and pay about $21,000 in liquidated health insurance premiums, accrued sick leave and other compensation, according to terms of the district’s contract.

Wed
11
Sep
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Courts Again Uphold Ruling Against Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District

A state appeals court concluded that firing a Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District teacher for viewing pornography on the job was excessive and inequitable in light of sanctions imposed on other teachers in 2009.

The District 4 Court of Appeals opinion last week upheld a Dane County circuit judge who had ordered reinstatement of Andrew Harris, a Glacier Creek Middle School teacher.

The appeals court also upheld reducing suspensions to reprimands for teachers Mike Duren and Gregg “Doc” Cramer.

On appeal the district contended that anything less than termination for Harris violates public policy against exposing children to pornography in schools.

The District 4 Court stated “we are not persuaded,” noting the district cited no case law to support its position and the district undermined its own position by not terminating any other teacher who viewed sexually explicit pictures on school computers.

Wed
04
Sep
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Vouchers at the Local Level

 

West Side Christian School principal Hank Hoenecke knew his institution didn’t have a particularly high chance of being selected to receive newly expanded parental choice/voucher school funding.

His suspicions were confirmed earlier this month when a dozen new applicants to the school had filed by the August 9 deadline, a far smaller number than the private schools that made the cut.

“Looks like we’re going to have a long shot to qualify,” he said shortly before the results were confirmed. However, Hoenecke said he was still glad West Side Christian gave it a shot, and he believes the experience could come in handy as the state’s controversial commitment to voucher schools continues to grow.

“We’re definitely going to look into this in the future,” he said, “because they’re going to expand the number of vouchers. It was a short turnaround this yearcbut still a nice excuse for people to come out and see our school.”

Wed
28
Aug
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Middleton swimmers aiming high

The bar has been raised.

Heck, the bar has been placed somewhere between Mars and Jupiter.

And really, Middleton’s girls swimming program wouldn't have it any other way.

But the Cardinals, who have won three consecutive Big Eight Conference championships, will have their hands full maintaining that standard of excellence this fall.

Middleton lost nearly half of its varsity lineup to graduation. But if there’s been one constant to Lauren Cabalka’s program it’s that the Cardinals reload and don’t rebuild.

“With nearly half of our varsity team being new, it will take us a while to figure out the best lineup and best combinations, but it is not something we are scared about,” said Cabalka, whose team begins its season Friday by hosting Beloit Memorial. “Our girls have stepped up, year-in and year-out, and I anticipate nothing less this season.  

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