School board meets in closed session
By Robert Cloud
The Waupaca School Board met in closed session Tuesday, April 3, to discuss sending a preliminary nonrenewal notice to a teacher.
Board members had failed to approve a motion regarding the notice during an open meeting on March 13.
Whether they voted to send the notice or even took action is unknown at this time because the discussion and any possible action was conducted in closed session.
School Board President Stephen Johnson did not comment about the results of the meeting.
At issue is the future of Joseph Janssen, a social studies teacher at Waupaca High School.
School board member Dmitri Martin, who spoke out against the nonrenewal of Janssen’s contract at the March 13 meeting, attempted unsuccessfully to hold the April 3 meeting in open session.
Martin said he could not comment about what happened in closed session.
On his Facebook page, Martin posted his concerns about the board possibly not renewing Janssen’s contract.
“I can’t sleep. Keep thinking of my role on the school board and the upcoming meeting on April 3rd to discuss whether to issue a preliminary nonrenewal notice of Joe Janssen’s teaching contract.
“He is the social studies department chair at the Waupaca High School where he has been teaching for going on 18 years. My understanding is that he teaches advanced placement courses and is one year away from retirement.
“Several students and parents have written me expressing how great a teacher Joe is and how dismayed they are that his contract would not be renewed.
“While the reason Joe has been suggested for nonrenewal has not been disclosed to the public, it is my understanding that there is really nothing to indicate that his teaching of students over the years has been short of above average. The only negative (which may be a positive depending on your perspective) has been what some may consider an occasional lack of respect for authority.
“As a bit of a free thinker myself, I find it unsettling how people in positions of power respond when they don’t feel they are shown enough respect. I’ve had people in positions of power over me who have not shown me much respect on occasion so I know it goes both ways. The difference was that I wasn’t able to do much about it at the time.
“Now, I find myself as one of seven people with authority over not only Joe but his superiors.”
If Janssen receives a notice of nonrenewal, he has five days to file a request for a private conference with the board.
After that private conference, the board decides whether to issue a formal notice of nonrenewal of the teacher’s contract.
Teachers may not be employed or dismissed without a majority vote of the school board.