In a letter addressed to the Evansville School District board and administration obtained by The Gazette, former district Administrator Jerry Roth detailed multiple concerns he had throughout his tenure, including multiple allegations of wrongdoing against current and past school board members.
“The concerns detailed in this document are the result of a lack of honesty, transparency, ethics and/or integrity by current board members,” Roth wrote.
He described eight major concerns he had during his time as administrator in the letter.
His first concern was when multiple board members ran for open school board seats on a joint ticket in 2018. Roth alleges the group received financial support from the Wisconsin Education Association Council and the Evansville Education Association.
Ron “Duff” Martin, WEAC president, said it isn’t unusual for a local groups to support or endorse school board candidates.
“In this case, it sounds as if the Evansville Education Association opted to support three candidates as well as provide political action funds,” Martin said. “The local and regional groups follow all state laws in regards to campaign contributions.”
Roth also alleges the board took a “secret vote in executive session” in May 2018 to approve various requests for a retiring employee, including two additional years of health insurance beyond the four the employee had earned. Roth wrote this was highly unusual for the district and that such requests had never been granted in the past.
Roth said another incident that concerned him occurred in January 2019 when, prior to a district budget retreat, a board member said they “hoped no community members would show up so that the board could discuss the staffing plan openly.”
Roth acknowledged the incident “may seem petty to highlight but this type of statement has been made by (this board member) on several occasions during my tenure.”
Other allegations in Roth’s letter included a time a board member told Roth they wanted to reallocate money from the staffing portion of the referendum that passed in 2018 and use it for teacher compensation, a time a board member shared information from an executive session regarding an investigation of staff misconduct with a high school staff member, and other concerns regarding what Roth called discriminatory behaviors by board members.
One example of what Roth deemed “discriminatory behavior” given toward the end of his letter was when a school district employee was given a raise in 2020 that was, according to Roth, “not in line with how other administrators were being compensated.”
At the end of his letter, Roth included a list of what he called “noteworthy accomplishments by the ECSD team during the past nine years.” These included the addition of multiple programs, curriculum updates, implementation of mental health support and services, and more.
When asked after Wednesday’s school board meeting to comment on the letter, school board President Kathi Swanson said she had no comment.