Still Upset With Job Switch, Transferred Teacher Speaks Out Again

Union president Kerri Jo Patten asked the School Board to consider her for vacant elementary school openings, two weeks before she is to start her new assignment as a middle school teacher.

Just two weeks remain before the 2012-13 school year begins. The Greenfield School District’s new teacher orientation is Wednesday and all teachers report back Thursday.

Yet Kerri Jo Patten, formerly a first-grade teacher at , still doesn’t have the curriculum for her new assignment: teaching five subjects at the Middle School level where she has never taught.

What’s more is Patten, the union's president, still isn’t all that thrilled with her new assignment, and after at a School Board meeting in June, she has tried twice to reclaim her previous job, or one similar to it, but has been ignored, she said.

On Monday, the School Board voted 4-2 to approve 11 new hires, including at least one elementary position Patten would have been qualified for. Director of Elementary Education Todd Bugnacki said all the district’s positions have now been filled, except for a part-time opening.

Before the board took action, Patten pleaded with board members and asked them to consider her to fill one of the district’s elementary school vacancies.

“I could easily be switched into one of these elementary positions instead of you approving the hire of someone off the street this evening,” Patten said during the portion of the meeting that allows for citizen’s oral remarks. “Please consider the bigger picture when you are asked to approve the contracts for new employees and how your decision will have a direct impact on current employees as well as the students and the taxpayers.”

Patten said she applied twice, using the statewide WECAN system, for posted elementary positions in the district, including the position she was removed from in June. Some of those positions were filled in the last week, she said. She told the board she never heard back from the district regarding one of her inquiries, and was told by Bugnacki on Sunday the other posting was inadvertently left open.

Ted Kraig, executive director for UniServe, a consortium for the Wisconsin Education Association Council 10, said there are general concerns with the way Greenfield teachers have been , and that Patten’s treatment is “extremely concerning and the most significant situation.”

“I’ve spoken with between 10 and 20 parents who tell me that incoming (Greenfield Education Association) president Kerri Jo Patten is one of the finest teachers in the district,” Kraig said during citizen’s oral remarks Monday. “If you have all-stars, she appears to be one of them.

“It makes no sense to us, and we don’t understand why it would make any sense to the district that is trying to achieve the best possible education and higher standards. … We’re not understanding why it’s in the district’s interest to behave this way.”

Kraig said Patten’s new assignment is one of the most difficult middle school assignments in the district, and that no other middle school teacher is expected to teach five different subjects.

“She’s about to be put in an environment where it’s almost impossible to succeed,” he said. “Maybe she does because she’s amazing, but there’s a very good chance this is not going to be in the interest of the kids that she’s teaching.”

Board members Russ Spahn and Rick Moze voted against the hires.

“I have nothing against any of these individuals. I don’t know them,” Spahn said. “But based on the many phone calls I have taken and some of the information provided in the citizen remarks, I’m going to vote against these as a whole because I have a concern with some of the statements that have been made tonight.”

No administrators responded to the comments made by Kraig or Patten, nor did they address Spahn and Moze’s vote against the new contracts.

John Seymour August 21, 2012 at 04:12 PM
Unfortunately the only way this will change is to bring a lawsuit against the Greenfield School District. This is a personal attack against Ms. Patten because of her position as a Union member. Conrad Farner is a vindictive person who will stop at nothing to get his way. He has many skeletons in his closet and he knows it. A lawsuit with sworn in testimony is the only way to the truth. You can't legally speak out against him at a school board meeting so nobody will/can. If he is not stopped it will cost the taxpayers thousands of dollars to pay back what this man has done. There is so much more that is not even coming out, but nobody wants to find out the truth. Criticize me all you want, the truth will be ugly and he knows it.
Shari August 21, 2012 at 06:24 PM
Vindictive is the perfect word for Farner. I agree with you completely, John. This WILL end up costing the district a lot of money. More importantly, though, is the cost that his retaliatory actions will have on the quality of education in the district. When you take a successful 1st grade teacher and put her in a middle school where she is asked to teach 5 DIFFERENT subjects (more than any other teacher) you are setting her up for failure. I believe Farner WANTS her to fail so he can get rid of her. I just wonder if it ever occurred to him that if she fails, the state scores for the students in those classrooms will drop. GMS' state report card will be lowered, as well as the report card for the district as a whole. Farner's total lack of disregard for educational quality, in this case alone, warrants his dismissal. I don't know how anyone can come to any other conclusion.
oak creek resident August 22, 2012 at 03:32 AM
When in doubt fire the teacher :)
Shari August 22, 2012 at 12:44 PM
There is no doubt.
Lee August 22, 2012 at 03:46 PM
Did anyone ask why this teacher was reassigned? Or is it not policy not to ask such a simple question. If that is the case, change the policy. There is something very fishy about this. I am not "up" to speed on what has been going on, but what I have read so far appears that Supt. Farner seems to have his own agenda. That is not a good outcome for the children of Greenfield. Dictatorship is not an option.
Hershal Webster August 23, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Per Co. Ex. Chris Abele, "Jobs change", "Nobody gets an appointment for life"
Lee August 23, 2012 at 05:43 PM
Jobs do change. But making someones work life so miserable, or outright firing someone because you can, does not make for great leadership. So I can't wait to see when Abele and Farner both are expelled from their duties as dictators in their own made up dynasty's.
SBR August 24, 2012 at 01:10 AM
Someone tell me this - when do workers get to tell the boss how/when/WHERE they work? It seems to me if she is such a gifted and talented teacher, she would be perfect for this challenging new role. This lady is simply a union hack who doesnt like the effects of act 10 - deal with it.
Greg August 24, 2012 at 02:48 AM
When I was in first grade my teacher taught all the subjects, has that changed? What are the five subjects that are going to make "life so miserable"?
Lee August 24, 2012 at 03:34 AM
Wow, glad you are not my boss. I have been lucky enough to have decent intelligent people for bosses. People with actual people skills and leadership qualities. I really don't think this is a union hack. She is a professional with a legitimate gripe. Lighten up. Not everything is union or non-union. And hey @Greg.....you go teach 5 different subjects in middle school and see how long you last. A day???? P.S I never have belonged to a union, so I am not a union hack either.
Greg August 24, 2012 at 03:41 AM
Do I get summers off?


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