On Tuesday, the Sparta School Board held a committee of the whole meeting, followed by a special meeting. In what was a marathon evening, the board finally had some details about the employee investigation at the end of the meeting.
In a March 29 special meeting of the board, the minutes concluded that the board hired an investigator and also placed an employee on paid administrative leave. The Herald could never say for sure who that employee was. However, after putting the pieces together, the Herald had a good idea who it was after March 31 when Sparta Area School District Superintendent Dr. Amy Van Deuren sent a letter to district staff stating, “I will be out of the office temporarily for personal reasons. While I am away, please direct any district related questions to Sparta High School Principal, Sam Russ.”
Board President Anthony Scholze’s statement on Tuesday was as follows;
“The district became aware of employee concerns pertaining to alleged incidents involving Dr. Amy Van Deuren on March 25, 2022. The district followed its internal procedures in investigating the incidents and concerns that culminated in multiple employees filing formal complaints underneath the district’s internal policies.
Pursuant to those district policies, the district retained an impartial outside attorney to investigate the complaints and placed Dr. Van Deuren on administrative leave. The outside investigator reviewed relevant policies, records, and personally interviewed fifteen individuals over the course of the investigation.
The investigator concluded that Dr. Van Deuren engaged in a pattern of conduct toward staff that violated multiple district policies, including those policies setting out the essential duties, responsibilities, and functions of her position.
Based upon the conclusion of the investigation, the Sparta School Board has decided to schedule an evidentiary hearing with Dr. Van Deuren in order to determine the disciplinary action, if any, pertaining to the items found in the report.
The evidentiary hearing will afford Dr. Van Deuren with the due process rights that are afforded to her pursuant to her contract and as a governmental employee.”
Scholze also stated that the hearing will be in closed session. The board has not picked a date as of yet for the closed session.
The Herald placed an open records request for any details and documents related to the investigation on Wednesday morning. The district said they will respond in no more than ten days.
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