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West Salem, WI

Parents protest principal's return


The former principal, John Smalley, was back on the job today.

He was fired in January, shortly after he pleaded guilty to domestic disorderly conduct.

Smalley claims he was fired improperly based on the arrest record.

He has filed a suit against the district.

But the district says the decision to fire Smalley was based on a recommendation from its previous attorney and says his termination was related to his job performance.

A new attorney investigated the case, and he was reinstated.

Not everyone is welcoming this turn of events.

Before busses began pulling up to West Salem Elementary school, concerned parents were sounding off about the principal.

Danielle Baxter says, "I want a good role model at our school.  I don't think he's done a good job."

Seven protesters gathered outside the school carrying signs that read "We need good role models" and "Every opinion counts."

In their opinion, the principal did not live up to his job description and was too hands-off.  

Dana Radke says, "He like wasn't greeting parents.  I have a couple of questions and they referred me to the principal."

Baxter says, "I didn't feel like there was enough of his presence in the school.  I didn't see him as much as I've seen other administrators."  

Parents also say they are also concerned about his domestic disorderly arrest.

Baxter says, "I don't want to see anyone of his home issues make its way to school."

Radke says, "I don't want my daughter around someone who loses control."

The parents say they will only be protesting today, but their fight won't be over with. 

They will be circulating petitions.

Gensch says, "We'll be done protesting today, but we will still have our petitions and deliver those and the formal complaints to the school board."

Gensch who held her daughter out of school today in protest, hopes that the petitions will make a difference and move the hand of the school board to fire Principal Smalley.

Gensch says, "We've had kids that have asked how can he come back to school?  He's been arrested.  How do you answer that?"

West Salem Superintendent Nancy Burns says, "Under the Wisconsin act, things that occur in one's personal life cannot interfere with professional life.  Mr. Smalley exhibited no problems regarding those types of things." 

Burns says the school is legally bound to keep Principal Smalley on the job, but says like other employees, he is being watched.

Burns says, "Mr. Smalley, just like everyone else, his performance will be evaluated continuously."

Gensch says, "We have great teachers and schools.  We have a great staff and these people want the best for our children we do too."

And the best for the children in their minds is to see Mr. Smalley leave.

Radke says, "I want to see him go.  I don't want my daughter around him."

The petitions and formal complaints are handed to the school board once a number have been gathered.

--Sarah Alain, reporter

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