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Deputies called after meeting outburst

Deputies called after meeting outburst
Gilman resident Vonda Kinas interrupted the Gilman School Board meeting Monday night with an outburst against board members over personnel issues. The meeting was temporarily adjourned and a sheriff’s deputy responded. KEVIN O’BRIEN/THE STAR NEWS
Deputies called after meeting outburst
Gilman resident Vonda Kinas interrupted the Gilman School Board meeting Monday night with an outburst against board members over personnel issues. The meeting was temporarily adjourned and a sheriff’s deputy responded. KEVIN O’BRIEN/THE STAR NEWS

Gilman resident Vonda Kinas used a string of profanities, hurled insults at staff and Gilman School board members and refused to leave Monday’s meeting after interrupting the board’s discussion regarding staff resignations. Eventually, after repeatedly being told to leave by board president Cheryl Ustianowski, Kinas exited the room and later met with a Taylor County sheriff’s deputy who was called by administrator Walter Leipart.

In response to Kinas’s outburst, board members went into recess for 10 minutes before resuming their normal order of business. A motion to adjourn the meeting early was made and seconded but never voted on.

After the meeting, Leipart said the district “values and encourages orderly and productive public and employee communication and engagement,” but the behavior at Monday’s meeting was not done in “an orderly and productive manner.”

“The district will be contacting legal counsel and law enforcement about the disruption to determine what course of action if any is necessary to ensure the safe and orderly operation of the school, graduation ceremony, and future board meetings,” he wrote.

Kinas has been involved in an effort to get rid of Leipart, who was recently investigated for allegedly creating a hostile work environment for staff members. An investigation completed by attorney Justin Andrews, an associate at Weld Riley, S.C., concluded that the accusations against Leipart were “unsubstantiated.” At Monday’s meeting, Kinas questioned why an employee had resigned and was reportedly escorted from the building.

Meanwhile, K-12 principal Jerry Smith remains on leave and is under investigation by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction for an alleged “serious security breach” during the Wisconsin Forward testing conducted on March 27. He is also being investigated by the district’s attorney for allegedly violating the terms of an unpaid leave of absence by “soliciting student and community support” for complaints he instigated himself.

The board met in closed session Monday to hear the results of the investigations, but no action was taken in open session.

On the advice of legal counsel, the board’s normal public comment period has been suspended for the past three meetings until the personnel matters are resolved. This decision came after several residents made what the district believes were possibly defamatory statements at a meeting in February.

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