Public Hearing Dominates Broken Bow School Board Meeting

A short meeting for the Broken Bow Public School Board on Monday, February 21 became heated and emotional as multiple people spoke during the public hearing regarding teacher resignations and alleged verbal abuse from administration.

A few individuals spoke regarding the recent teacher resignations and asked if there were internal issues that were making teachers leave. Sarah Russell stated there seems to be a negative culture creeping into the school and she is afraid teachers are leaving because they are not feeling respected. She continued by noting there are bad rumors circulating and feels that there may not be enough transparency from the board. She concluded by noting the service by the school board and the teachers is appreciated and hopes a solution can be reached.

Also during the public hearing, two teachers who are resigning at the end of the year stated the reason they were leaving was due to verbal abuse and harassment by an administrator that was hired this year. One of the teachers stated she had no plans to leave the school and loves the students she has had, but due to the administration problem, she felt she had no choice other than to leave.

One of the other resigning teachers said at the beginning of the year, she was verbally abused and called inappropriate and unprofessional names. She stated the issues were brought up immediately, but were disregarded.

Following the public hearing Board President Tom Osmond stated there is a process that has to be followed regarding complaints as well as public hearings having to follow the Open Meetings Act. Tom stated he understands the frustration of sitting in a crowd and not being able to receive an immediate answer from the board, but their hands are tied due to the Open Meetings Act.

Board Member J.B. Atkins stated he has been in the public seat before, unable to get answers right away when a question is asked, and from the public’s perspective, it feels like the board does not care. He remarked that this is as far from the truth as possible. Everyone on the board cares about the school and what happens within it, but the Open Meetings Act restricts what boards can say during a public hearing. J.B. encouraged everyone to become familiar with the rules to find out better ways to address the board so questions can be answered.

BBPS Superintendent Darren Tobey also encouraged the public to follow the procedure of talking to him first when it comes to issues within the school, especially regarding personnel. He stated he will never turn down having a conversation with anyone.

In regards to rumors circulating about contract renewals and complaints, Tobey stated contracts are not addressed until March. He did note that MS/HS Principal Rusty Kluender announced he had accepted another position at a different school, but other than his announcement, no contracts have been discussed. He also stated there have not been any formal complaints lodged in his office regarding verbal abuse and harassment that was commented during public hearing about a new hire.

Other BBPS Board business included congratulating the wrestling and cheer teams during state competition, approving policy updates, approving resignations and new hires, and approving the 2022-2023 school calendar.

The next Broken Bow School Board Work Session will be held on March 8 at noon, while the next Regular Meeting will be on March 21 with a time TBD.