There has been more fallout following comments made by a member of the Hartland Consolidated Schools Board of Education.
As GIGO News reported on Sunday, board member Glenn Gogoleski spoke on a local podcast and indicated he planned to visit district buildings unannounced and see how far he could get inside without an escort. He also inferred that his wife, Jeannine Gogoleski, who is listed as a Secretary at Farms Intermediate School, had told him about incidents involving students.
“I will tell you, because my wife works in one of the schools,” said Gogoleski. “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.”
In Wednesday’s weekly communication email, Hartland Superintendent Chuck Hughes directly addressed the controversy and confirmed that he had spoken Mr. Gogoleski about his plan for surprise visits.
“I responded to this safety concern by sitting down with Mr. Gogoleski to explain that parents were fearful for their children, especially considering that he stated that he would grab students by the scruff of the neck if they were misbehaving,” stated Hughes. “Mr. Gogoleski assured me that he understands the protocol for visiting schools and would follow these protocols now and in the future.”
Hughes also said Gogoleski assured him that if he was to enter the schools, he would never touch a child.
“We reviewed how staff are trained to handle students with a reminder that there are restraint and seclusion laws that the district must follow, Hughes said. “I shared that emptying a classroom when a student is acting out is best practice for the safety of students and staff.”
While those actions had already been addressee in Hughes’ response to GIGO News on Tuesday, the email communications, did provide a new piece of information. Hughes said the community had reached out to him and other Board members “in large numbers to share their concerns that personal information protected under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) had been provided to Gogoleski by a school employee.
“Parents are concerned that people who have no right to know details about their children are now in possession of this information,” said Hughes. “I have committed to a complete and thorough investigation into this concern.”
“It is disappointing that the district has been placed in the situation of having to address these comments,” Hughes continued. “I can assure every stakeholder that the district will continue to work tirelessly to create and support a safe school environment for all students while protecting their educational privacy rights.”
When asked to confirm online reports that Jeannine Gogoleski had been placed on administrative leave, Hughes told GIGO News that he would not comment on personnel matters.
Meanwhile, a protest that had been planned for Thursday at 3 p.m. outside Superintendent Hughes office has been moved to an undisclosed location.
The gathering, which is to demand an investigation regarding the potential violation of FERPA, the federal policy that protects student’s privacy, is moving due to safety concerns.
“Due to credible safety concerns, the gathering that is planned outside of Mr. Hughes office with parents for Thursday had to be moved to a safe space,” posted one of the event organizers. “This is in response to several social media posts and the latest radical rants in Livingston Lantern blog.”
The Livingston Lantern is an online blog run by Jennifer Smith, chair of the Livingston County Republican Party. However, through her attorney, Smith has denied being the “author” of the publication.
“The plan has always been just a gathering of concerned parents, coming from a collaborative place, having dialogue with Chuck regarding their specific concerns,” continued the post. “Make no mistake- we are working with them and have no desire for drama. These parents, of our most vulnerable population, already have enough on their plate and don’t need any more to deal with.”