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Never should have happened

August 21, 2008
The Daily News

EDITOR:I have been in the field of education for 45 years as a teacher, coach, and now a school board member. A relation of mine from your area has been sending me all the articles about Nick Baumgart's dilemma since day one.

My personal experiences in education obsessed me to become seriously involved in Nick's injustice. I attended Nick's "hearing" last fall, wrote an article to The Daily News on his behalf, and also attended his trial in March.

When the jury found Nick Baumgart not guilty, I felt that the verdict was just and fair.

I returned to my hometown feeling relieved for him in that all Nick had gone through the past year was finally over. A few days later I learned that it wasn't over. I found out that the school board and administration were going to hold an open meeting to consider terminating Nick on the grounds that he violated the school's disciplinary policy.

The meeting lasted for quite some time and then was adjourned to a later date without any decision being made. Since that meeting there have been some letters to the editor of great interest.

Tom Turner hit the nail on the head when he more or less said, " Spare the rod and spoil the child." Tom was also on target when he wrote that we are sinking into a "weak," "spineless", and "politically correct" society. However, the most important thing that Mr. Turner pointed out was that our young people must be held accountable for their actions.

When kids are not held accountable for their actions, they think that they can do anything they want without penalty. A good example of this was what we all saw on National television last spring in Florida. Six girls brutally beat up one girl and showed little or no remorse for it. Perhaps they did such a violent act because they felt they wouldn't be held accountable for it. Think about it.

Another letter to the editor of significant interest that should open all of our eyes was by Patti Gmeiner, a former substitute teacher who refuses to go back to the Florence School District to teach again. Her main reason was lack of discipline and respect by the students which resulted in chaos and disruptive behavior in the classroom. Patti attempted to do something about these unruly students by giving them detentions. However, she noticed that the kids didn't seem to mind getting detentions and to her dismay she found out why. Patti learned from another teacher that only a small percentage of these detentions were ever served.

Whenever the administration is weak in leadership, the teachers are forced to take disciplinary procedures in their own hands. Perhaps the wrong person has been on trial. If the administration had done their job properly, this whole incident with Nick Baumgart would have never happened.

In conclusion, when the administration fails to perform their duties satisfactorily, it's up to the school board to see that this is done. If the school board does not exercise their authority to correct the problem, then the general public who elected them must take action. If necessary there is a procedure entitled "School Board Recall" which can be found on an Internet website. Google:, then click on "Page 1 Wisconsin Elections Board."

The power of action is still with the "people" if they direct their efforts in the right direction and follow the proper procedure. This whole mess with Nick Baumgart has dragged on for more than a year. It's time to bring it to a "head" and make restitution with Nick for all he and his family have gone through. It's a catastrophe that should have never happened in the first place. Let's clean it up, make it right, and get everything back to normal again.

Darrell Laschen

Loyal, Wis.



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