Comments made by newly-elected members of the Hartland Consolidated Schools Board of Education have caused concern among district parents.
Appearing last week on a local podcast, “This is My Brain”, board members Glenn Gogoleski and Greg Keller, along with former candidate Bob Merwin, were discussing things in the Hartland district they wish to see changed, including their persistent accusation that students are being “indoctrinated” on issues like the LGBTQ+ community and racial justice.
The trio ran for school board on the self-named ‘Clean Slate’ whose webpage cites a series of issues at the heart of their campaign, including parents’ rights to curriculum access and a call to “end the threat of boys in girls’ sports and restrooms.”
When the podcast host, Jeremy Scott Gibbs, suggested that as board members, the trio should be able to enter any school building, any time for any reason, Gogoleski indicated that was something he planned to do.
“What I want to do is spend a little bit of time just sitting in the offices,” said Gogoleski. “I will tell you, because my wife works in one of the schools. There is so much that goes on that doesn’t get reported, doesn’t get watched. I want to see that. Absolutely. I want to see the kids that are the problems. I want to see the kids that come into the office and swear and throw things. Right now when a kid has a meltdown in the class they evacuate the rest of the class…”
At that point, Gibbs interrupted to say, “and allow fu – – tard to sit.”
Glenn then continued, “…so that a child can be talked down from his little meltdown.”
“They have to surround him. They can’t lay a hand on him,” said Merwin.
“They need three administrators to be there to secure the child to bring him down to the office. And when I say secure I’m not talking about grabbing them by the scruff of the neck. I’m talking about talking to him, getting and coaxing down to the office. Its sickening! This is why I could never ever be a teacher because if I was, I would be a news highlight reel.”
When asked if he had “walked the schools,” Gogleski said it was “on the calendar.”
“I want to do it and I want to do it without restrictions. I’ve got a horrible feeling that when I request to do it…”
When Gibbs then asked incredulously, “You have to request?,” Merwin responded, “We need to just blindside them.”
Gogoleski then said he planned to carry out his plan in the next two weeks when his personal job calendar frees up.
“I’ll have a lot of free time,” he said. “I’m going to every school and find out how far I can get in without an escort.”
Those comments are of immense concern to many district parents. Among them is Cori Charboneau, who has a 6th grader at Farms Intermediate School.
“It’s very concerning and very threatening to me,” she told GIGO News. “And it’s not the role of a school board. It should not be what our school board does. They’re not the police, they’re not the protectors.”
Charboneau says if Gogoleski were to follow up on his statements, it would likely violate the board’s own bylaws on security protocols.
“I don’t know if these people have been background checked,” she said. “I know that every single parent has to be background checked. Every single teacher, every single administrator that walks in the door who’s working with kids or chaperoning or doing anything, has to go through that process. And I don’t even know if that’s been something that our Board of Ed members have done, and for him to speak these words that are menacing and kind of threatening? I don’t know what type of person this is. I only can go based on what I hear, and it’s frightening to me. I don’t want him just showing up unannounced in my child’s school. What is he looking for?”
Another parent with the same concerns is Heather Zachow, who has three young children in the district.
“The actions that he speaks of in that podcast are concerning,” she said. “The fact that he’s lamenting that they can’t grab kids by the scruff and that they have to gently talk to them. Or the fact that he can’t be a teacher because he would be a highlight reel, because he knows that he would put his hands on the kids. The fact that he is calling parents groomers. The fact that he sat by and let the host call this child an f-tard without defending them, was really disgusting to me.”
Zachow was further upset that when she questioned Gogoleski in a post on the Livingston Integrity Facebook page, he referred to her as a “cockroach.”
“That’s what he tends to do,” she said. “He name calls, he questions their intelligence. He tells them that they’re stupid, that they have a low IQ. This is just his rhetoric every time.”
Another issue for both parents is Gogoleski’s reference to his wife having passed along information to him concerning student behavior.
Jeannine Gogoleski is listed as a secretary at Farms Intermediate School.
“My child is actually headed to that school next year,” said Zachow. “So there is a lot of concern for me that some FERPA violations are happening.”
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), is a federal law that among other things gives parents some measure of control over the disclosure of personally identifiable information about their children.
“He made it very clear that he knows of situations that are happening in that office that are not reported because his wife has said so,” said Zachow. “So it’s a little concerning about what information is being shared. And as a parent with a child heading there next year, that concerns me.”
Charboneau concurred that the potential misuse of student information is of great concern.
“The secretary, the office staff, is typically the heart of the building, and somehow he’s specifically stating that she’s sharing with him about these students and how he wants to be free from work in two weeks and go sit down and see what’s going on?”
Charboneau added that it will not at all be acceptable if Gogoleski were to enter their children’s schools unescorted and unannounced.
“In light of just the MSU shootings and all of the gun violence in our country too, this line of, ‘I should be able to walk in this building,’ it just leaves a lot of holes and gaps for potential people to come in. I mean, if Glenn is able to just walk in our buildings escorted without anybody, I think that sends the wrong message to anybody that would potentially want to harm children.”
Both Zachow and Charboneau says the school board needs to take this seriously as many of the statements being made on the podcast are potential violations of board policy, with two in particular.
Policy 0145, titled “Discriminatory Harassment” states that “the Board is committed to maintaining an environment free of harassment and intimidation,” and that among the conduct that is prohibited is that “which has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, discriminatory, or offensive environment on the basis of gender, religion, race, color, national origin or ancestry, age, disability, height, weight, marital status, and/or any other legally protected characteristic.”
Further, it says the harassment of a student, staff member, or third party (e.g. visiting speaker, athletic team member, volunteer, parent, etc.) is strictly forbidden. Any person who is found to have violated this policy will be subject to discipline in accordance with law.”
Policy 0143.1, meanwhile, is titled “Public Expression of Board Members” and designates the school board’s President, who is Chris Costa, as the official spokesperson for the Board but that when individual Board members make public statements on school matters they must “make it clear that their views do not necessarily reflect the views of the Board or of their colleagues on the Board.”
Both Costa and Superintendent Chuck Hughes were asked to comment for this story, as was Mr. Gogoleski. So far, no responses have been received.
Another point of contention were comments made earlier in the podcast, when Gogoleski discussed what he says is a “worship of victimhood” by those who support LGBTQ+ rights and providing an inclusive atmosphere in the district.
“For example, Hartland has a little slogan that they’re so proud of, ‘Reason, Respect and Responsibility,’ and in this little description of Reason, Respect, and Responsibility, there’s a little line that talks about, ‘We treat everyone as equals. Everyone is a Hartland Eagle,’ including, and then they go into the sentence of division, ‘including every race, every religion, every sexual preference, every…’ If you’re treating everybody equal, you don’t have to make a distinction who you’re treating equal. The word all means all.”
Zachow said his disregard of the statement’s essential spirit was hard to comprehend.
“Reason, Respect and Responsibility are just things that you instill in your child at a young age,” she said. “These are what you expect of your children. And I feel like we hold our kids to a higher standard than the adults in the community. And so how do you teach your kids to follow these virtues if adults aren’t expected to uphold it themselves?”
Meanwhile, an online petition has been created demanding “that all current school board members have a background check,” has been created by the Livingston Integrity group, to which both Zachow and Charboneau are members.
The group says they plan to present it to the board at the March 13 meeting as well as speak publicly about the comments made by Gogoleski, Keller and Merwin on the podcast.