Three Oconomowoc School Board members resign as board 'dragged into partisan culture wars'

NOW: Three Oconomowoc School Board members resign as board ’dragged into partisan culture wars’

OCONOMOWOC, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Former Oconomowoc School Board members Kim Herro, Dan Raasch and Rick Grothaus resigned on the same day, stating the board had "been dragged into partisan culture wars by some members of the board."

"School boards are designed to be nonpartisan," Grothaus said. "They're supposed to be nonpartisan. We're serving kids, not political ideology."

Grothaus said the board has devolved into yelling and become tailored to a "minority hyper-political group."

"We're not able to have discussions about anything of substance, analyze those issues."

Some parents had tried to recall board members who voted for a hybrid school model, including Herro.

"I've seen the board do what they think they want to do versus the people," said parent Jim Brusnaham, who elected to keep his children in private school. "I saw the surveys come out on what the public wanted. I saw they were going to choose what they wanted either way."

Herro's resignation letter stated, in part, the district "discourages creativity, is unreceptive to new ideas that they themselves have not generated and values above all else, compliance."

District Superintendent Dr. Kristen Taylor released the statement, “I want to thank our former school board members for their service to our students, families and the district. Public service is a difficult endeavor that has been exacerbated by the current division in society as a whole."

Grothaus said behavior never before accepted in board meetings has become the norm during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it shouldn't continue.

"The only thing left that we could do was make this kind of a statement, so that our community can begin to understand how serious this is. So they can make decisions themselves as to how they want to respond."

The remaining four members of the board will begin work replacing the outgoing members during a meeting Wednesday night.

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