Greenfield School Board president Bruce Bailey understands that people in Wisconsin, especially teachers and their supporters, are mad these days.
He just thinks they are mad at the wrong people.
“I was surprised with the amount of anger directed at us,” said Bailey, who added he had no inclination that large of a crowd would show up. “If they’re mad at Governor Walker and the (budget-repair) bill, that’s fine, but to direct that anger at the local school board is misplaced.”
According to Bailey, one school board member told him their car was damaged during or after the meeting.
“That’s totally unacceptable. That’s terrible,” Bailey said.
Displays of anger and displeasure were prominent. Protesters came to the meeting upset that the school board was expected to approve the employee handbook at Monday’s meeting. They became even more furious when many of them were turned away and not allowed to enter the meeting room, which had reached its capacity, according to Bailey.
“The crowd was mad that we didn’t move it to the PAC, but it’s posted for that meeting room where are cameras are set up to televise it locally,” Bailey said. “We figured it was more important to have people fill up the room and then have it televised for the citizens of Greenfield, not to have WEAC dictate where we were going to hold our meeting.”
Many members of the Wisconsin Education Association Council were among those in attendance, as were teachers and supporters from other districts outside of Greenfield.
“A lot of the teachers that were there were WEAC people from out of the district that created most of the problems,” Bailey said. “They were unruly and obnoxious. I tried to gavel them and tell them it was a place of business. They were chanting, ‘Shame, shame, shame.’ We almost closed the meeting down but we didn’t want them to prevail with their tactics.
“Some people weren’t behaving in an adult fashion. They were behaving like children.”
During an interview with TMJ4, Doug Perry, a Greenfield elementary school teacher and the Greenfield teachers’ union president, said he and his colleagues were frustrated that they had not seen a copy of the handbook or had any input in regards to its contents in advance of the start of school, which for teachers was Tuesday.
Bailey said the district administration did the best it could given the time frame it faced.
“The administration did a good job of putting the new handbook together in a short time,” he said. “Some things were changing because of things that happened in Madison, so they had to wait to put it together.”
The district’s annual meeting is slated for Monday, Sept. 12. Bailey said he hopes Monday’s demonstrations are not replicated.
“Everybody that comes to our meeting has a chance to talk, and we ask that they show respect and not behave in an unruly fashion,” he said. “We just expect the courtesy to let us conduct our business.”