UPDATE: Board Member Claims Misstep, Reason for Closed Session
By Brandi Makuski
One member of the Stevens Point School Board has come forward to say he was the topic of discussion at Monday’s closed-session school board meeting.
The board entered into closed session on April 11 to discuss, among other items, board member conduct, but the agenda did not provide any further details. Board Member Sam Levin claims he was the focus of conversation that night.
“Recently I made a comment during a public conversation that should not have been made,” Levin said in an unsolicited email statement to the City Times. “The board had every legal right to discuss my conduct, and as a board it was handled as a teachable moment. It will not happen again.”
Levin added he was “upset that the board has now been brought into this since it was not their doing”, also adding “I take full responsibility.”
Levin declined to disclose the comment in question, adding the statement would be his only comment on the matter.
“I ran for the school board for several reasons, but a big reason was to bring trust and transparency to the table,” Levin wrote. “I am proud of what this board has accomplished this year.”
A call to Board President Meg Erler was not immediately returned.
Levin’s statement has been the only one made regarding Monday’s closed-session. Officials from the Stevens Point School District have refused to release any information outside of saying “no comment”.
The board entered into closed session last week to discuss, in part, “Considering financial, medical, social or personal histories or disciplinary data of specific persons, preliminary consideration of specific personnel problems or the investigation of charges against specific persons except where par.(b) applies which, if discussed in public, would be likely to have a substantial adverse effect upon the reputation of any person referred to in such histories or data or involved in such problems or investigations. Specifically board member conduct.”
When asked for comment on why the conduct of an elected board member was confidential, Interim Superintendent Lee Bush replied via email with one sentence: “Because the open meetings statute cited in the closed session, 19.85 (1)(f) allows for it.”
State law 19.84(2) requires the wording on a public meeting agenda to contain enough information for members of the public and the media to be “reasonably appraised” of the closed meeting content.
When asked if he thought the agenda’s wording was specific enough to satisfy the law, Lee only said, “The district consulted with legal counsel and discussions held during closed session are confidential, therefore we will not be able to provide further comment.”