Wausau School Board Seeks Independent Investigation

By: WSAW Staff Email
By: WSAW Staff Email
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UPDATE: Mon 10:46 PM, Oct. 21, 2013

The Wausau School District is seeking bids to hold an independent investigation to determine how the controversy over religious music in Wausau public schools began.

The board agrees to consider at least two bids from independent entities who would develop a timeline as to how the controvery unfolded.

The recommendation was made by Board Member Jane Rusch.

The Wisconsin Association of School Boards, which the district is a member of, is providing the district with a sample letter that lays out the fees and services they would offer if selected to look into the controversy.

The board will also look for local bids to try to bring down costs.

School Board President Michelle Schaefer believes the board is moving in the right direction.

"I think it's really good to take a step back and to clearly look at what really happened, what was the reasons behind it, what was the thinking behind it, so that we can all learn as we move forward," Schaefer says.

The board plans to gather bids over the next week and hopes to approve a plan at a future meeting.

Also at the meeting tonight in a closed session, Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Williams' performance was reviewed.

This review stemmed from how she handled the music incident.

Superintendent Williams has been critized by some members of the public and school board for not making things clear when it came to the music debate.

This all started when a controversy erupted after district administrators allegedly told the director of Wausau West's music program he needed to reduce the amount of religious music played at holiday concerts.

The school board decided a few weeks ago, there will be no immediate changes to the district's policy on religious music.

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Mon 5:32 PM, Oct. 21, 2013

A public meeting Monday night is set to discuss a recommendation by a school board member to have an outside investigation into the controversy surrounding religious music in concerts in the Wausau School District.

The meeting starts at 6 p.m. at the Longfellow Administration Center on Seymour Street in Wausau. The recommendation was made by board member Jane Rusch.

Also, at the meeting, Superintendent Doctor Kathleen Williams' performance will be reviewed. However, that portion will not be open to the public.

As you may recall, a controversy erupted after district administrators allegedly told the director of Wausau West's music program he needed to reduce the amount of religious music played at holiday concerts.

The school board decided a few weeks ago, there will be no immediate changes to the district's policy on religious music.

NewsChannel 7 will be at the meeting and will bring you the latest tonight on NewsChannel 7 at 10.

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ORIGINAL STORY: Fri 6:12 PM, Oct. 11, 2013

Choir rehearsals for the Master Singers at Wausau West High School are underway again after the school board voted Thursday to return to the previous administrative rules for religious music in school. Friday the President of the Wausau School Board shared her take on the board's action.

You may recall the controversy erupted last week after district administrators allegedly told the director of Wausau West's music program he needed to reduce the amount of religious music played at holiday concerts. Board President Michelle Schaefer tells NewsChannel 7 up until last night the board collectively had not addressed or been given any information about the situation. But she wants to clarify, regardless of that fact, there was no wrong done in the case.

That's because the board's role is to approve school district policy and as it stands now there is no policy, just rules to implement one.

"I think that in the new music program, the new music selection, they have followed administrative rules," Schaefer explains. "The district, up to this point, has had no policy and I really think that what has happened this week demonstrates why it's important to have a policy and to align administrative rule with that policy. "

That policy will be drafted by a special committee that will include school administrators, board members and members of the community. Once the policy is drafted it will be taken to the full board for a vote.

President Schaefer says Wausau Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Williams was within her rights to meet with legal counsel before forming the committee. She adds that the board was notified when the meeting was held with the music teachers.

NewsChannel 7 did speak with the Wausau West Choir Director Phil Buch. He says last night was a huge night for him and he's just going to let the community talk for him right now.


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