Three Lakes Schools change policy over Walker political ad

An Oneida County school district decided to change its policy on political partisanship thanks to a political ad featuring some of its staff members.

The change was voted on at a packed special school board meeting in Three Lakes Thursday.

The ad was paid for by the group "Friends of Scott Walker."

It shows school staff expressing gratitude to the governor for the funding he’s provided to the rural school.

"I found it to be alarming because it clearly did put the school in a position of publicly supporting a candidate," said board president Tom Rulseh. "At best, I suspect that the advertisement came about as a result of a combination of naivety and poor judgment."

Three Lakes Schools superintendent George Karling later accepted responsibility for the situation.

"Recently I failed to vet the purpose of the Governor’s visit as thoroughly as I should have even though the intent and purpose was expressed to me," said Karling in a prepared statement. "This was a mistake on my part, and I apologize for that."

The meeting led to a unanimous decision to impose a more detailed policy, which prohibits partisan or political uses of school resources, staff and board members in the future. It does not restrict staff and board members from practicing their political beliefs in their personal time.

"This was a very difficult meeting," commented Rulseh after the meeting. "It was a reaction to an unfortunate event. We held this meeting so that kind of event never re-occurs."

Some in attendance say they appreciated the heartfelt apology and action from the board, but still want further action. Gretchen Hoover is one of several residents who want the governor to issue a retraction for the campaign ad.

"I think he needs to," said Hoover. "I think he played upon the naivety of the people here, the board specifically."

The school board said the ad would stop running on TV and online. No word from "Friends of Scott Walker" on whether that will happen.

One community member asked if there will be any consequences for superintendent Karling, to which board president Rulseh responded that it hadn’t been considered.

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