School board reviews report into Wausau Christmas music controve - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

School board reviews report into Wausau Christmas music controversy

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WAUSAU (WAOW) – The independent investigation into the Christmas music list for a high school choir in Wausau that erupted into a high-profile firestorm about religious music has been completed, Wausau School Board President Michelle Schaefer said Monday.

Wausau attorney Kevin Terry, who was hired to do the probe, met with the Wausau School Board on Monday night. Terry requested to meet behind closed doors with the board to consider “social or personal histories of specific persons” in the probe of the music program.

He presented an 18-page report to the board during closed session Monday night. The board remained in closed session for nearly two hours.

When the board returned to open session, Schaefer said the school district attorney needed to review the report before it would be released to the public. She did say the report could be released as early as Tuesday on the school's website.

School board member Patrick McKee said the meeting was the first step in “digesting the information” from the $4,000 investigation.

"The focus for us now as a board is to figure out what we have to do collectively to move the district ahead. Obviously this was a big black eye for us and we have to make sure we're making the right decisions to get passed this," said McKee.

School Board Vice President Lance Trollop said there was no discussion regarding disciplinary action during the closed session meeting.

The district's superintendent, Kathleen Williams, was criticized for her handling of the music controversy. She was absent from the meeting Monday. Newsline 9 was told she was ill.

The firestorm erupted after the director of an elite choir of singers at Wausau West High School said a new policy sought to limit religious-themed Christmas songs that his choir could sing.

He said he would disband the group.

The school district said a review of holiday music was prompted by the threat of a lawsuit and the choir could sing a variety of songs.

After hundreds of people attended a meeting mostly to support using traditional and sacred songs in the concerts, the school board decided to go back to the previous way of reviewing concert songs and the Master Singers began practicing again.

The school board ordered the investigation to find out how the firestorm, which elicited comments from one-time vice presidential candidate Sara Palin, got out of hand just weeks before Christmas.

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