A Tony woman has been charged in Rusk County Circuit Court with misconduct while serving as president of the Flambeau School District’s school board.
Julie CJ Hauser, 64, has been charged with one felony count of misconduct in office — failing to perform known duty and one felony count of misconduct in office — acting in excess of authority. If convicted, she could be sentenced to a maximum of seven years incarceration, or $20,000 in fines, or both.
According to the criminal complaint, on Feb. 2 a Rusk County investigator followed up on a complaint regarding the Flambeau School Board. The individual filing the complaint reported to the investigator the school board would not set a special school board meeting upon request.
An administrator at the school told the investigator statutes do not specify when a special board meeting needs to occur following a request. The administrator also said Hauser had discussed the issues with the teacher requesting the special meeting.
The complainant had received an email from a teacher stating a parent had gone into the school and threatened a teacher to change their child’s grade. Because of the threatening e-mail, the teacher had allegedly requested an opportunity to speak during the Feb. 17 school board meeting. The administrator believed a special meeting would not need to be set based on the teacher’s request.
Two school board members had allegedly requested to hold a special meeting however, according to the complainant, Hauser did not allegedly schedule the special meeting from the school board members’ requests.
According to the criminal complaint, a request for a special meeting is typically made in writing and in this case, by e-mail.
The complainant told the investigator the importance for a special meeting was to meet certain investigative time constraints of the school’s anti-harassment policy, and if necessary, appoint someone outside the school district to investigate the complaint.
Wisconsin State Statute 120.11 (2)(a) states, “The school board shall hold a special school board meeting upon the written request of a school board member with the school district clerk or, in the school district clerk’s absence, the school district president. The school district clerk or, in the school district clerk’s absence, the president shall fix a reasonable date, time, and place for the meeting…”
The Flambeau School’s policy manual section on special meetings allows the board members to hold a special meeting upon written request, provided there is compliance with notice provisions and State Law, according to the criminal complaint.
The complainant provided several e-mails to the investigator that had been exchanged between Hauser, school administrators and school board members.
The first e-mail, sent on Jan. 27 is the formal request for a meeting and requested that no investigatory actions be taken by any board member outside of the approval of the board as a whole.
In an e-mail on Jan. 29 to a school board member, Hauser states she allegedly met with the teacher who has asked to be placed on the Feb. 17 agenda. The e-mail also states Hauser was seeking guidance from the Wisconsin Association of School Boards because Hauser was allegedly unclear as to the teacher’s request.
In an e-mail dated Feb. 1, no formal complaint regarding the situation had been filed with the school as of Jan. 25. In this e-mail Hauser was seeking additional information about the need for a special meeting.
According to the criminal complaint, the complainant believed Hauser was “fishing” and investigating the situation above the authority of her position as school board president instead of hiring an outside source to investigate the complaint.
The complainant believed that Hauser was aware of the harassment complaint after meeting with the teacher and their supervisor and could possibly be attempting to hide it.
In an interview with the investigator, a school administrator said the teacher wanted to bring to light a somewhat threatening email from a parent.
According to the criminal complaint, the Flambeau School Employee Anti-Harassment policy designates the District Administrator as the individual to accept and receive complaints and to either begin an investigation or designate a specific person to conduct the process.
At this time, a hearing is not scheduled in Rusk County Circuit Court.