Ethical questions raised about Merrill School Board - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Ethical questions raised about Merrill School Board


The Merrill School Board President is under fire for questions of judgment.

Three seats are open and six people are running. But, after an e-mail was sent to everyone in the Merrill Area School District, ethical questions have been raised.

"It's just such a gray area," Merrill City Clerk Bill Heideman said.

An E-mail from current School Board President Lin Kautza's account was sent to the superintendents secretary with the instruction to send it out to all Merrill Area Public School staff.

The E-mail thanked supporters for their votes. But, then goes on to say, "I want to win April 2 and win with Jeff, John, or Chuck. We feel we can get the district back on track."

According to Heideman, conducting political business during school hours is not allowed.

"Most jurisdictions have a code of conduct that says that's a no, no, you can't use school property for political gain," Heideman explained.

In fact, it specifically violates Merrill district's code of conduct. One section of board policies states, "staff are prohibited from using the district's e-mail system including "stuffing" staff mailboxes for distribution of political material."

Interim Superintendent Don Stevens would not talk on camera. But, he did tell Newsline 9 he's aware of the E-mail and is looking into the situation. The current school board president could not be reached for comment.

The three candidates mentioned in the E-mail were Jeff Verdoorn, John Schull and Chuck Bolder. All three told Newsline 9 they didn't know the message existed.

"I had no idea," Bolder said.

We were able to reach one of the other candidates were not mentioned in the E-mail. Norbert Ashbeck says it's incidents like this that portray the district in a negative light.

"I think the voters should decide who is qualified, it is not up to the other candidates to decide," Ashbeck said.

Right now no disciplinary actions have been taken. But, board policies state consequences could include suspension or dismissal of employees.

The school board election takes place April 2.

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