Investigation: Sparta superintendent repeatedly violated the district’s anti-harassment and anti-bullying policies
SPARTA, Wis. (WKBT) — The Sparta superintendent could face disciplinary action after an outside investigator found she repeatedly violated the district’s anti-harassment and anti-bullying policies and created a hostile work environment.
News 8 Now obtained a copy of the investigator’s report through an open records request. According to the 27-page document, Dr. Amy Van Deuren engaged in harassing and threatening behavior.
The report details incidences where Superintendent Van Deuren was late, entered others’ offices without warning; and that was just the beginning. Some staff members even reported fears for their safety.
Persistent invasion of boundaries, use of intimidation, misuse of power, people are walking on eggshells. Those are just four of the many complaints against Van Deuren.
The report conducted by an outside investigator recounted multiple incidences collected during interviews with 15 staff members.
Witnesses described Van Deuren’s behavior as unpredictable, describing meetings where Van Deuren yelled at cabinet members, swore at them, and pounded on the table.
Another staff member told the investigator that Van Deuren verbally attacked her– later offering her what Van Deuren called an “apology soda.”
They did not trust her and feared retaliation.
The investigator also interviewed Van Deuren; she denies nearly every claim.
The investigator in the case wrote that unlike other cases where there are different opinions, every interviewee described Van Deuren’s conduct the same: aggressive.
Staff members said Van Deuren’s behavior came to a head on March 25, when several of them were meeting at the high school to address complaints.
Van Deuren showed up at the school after she saw the staff members’ cars parked outside.
According to the report, Van Deuren interrupted the meeting.
When the high school principal asked her to leave, Van Deuren attempted to use her master key to get into the room.
The report goes on to say that two staff members were visibly upset and shaken. One said that they felt unsafe to go home because Van Deuren lived nearby.
The report called Van Deuren’s failure to admit to those actions demonstrative of a lack of a sense of accountability.
In her response, she argued that the 14 other interviewees, and the report, offered a one-sided perspective.
Some of Van Deuren’s employees also reported concerns for their physical safety based on the superintendent’s actions and communications.
The school board placed Van Deuren on administrative leave.
According to the Board of Education President Anthony Scholze, the board is working to schedule an evidentiary hearing date to determine possible disciplinary consequences.
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