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                            PUBLIC SCHOOLS

The reader will find that the content of this portion of our website is a bit different.  It goes beyond the typical description of legal services offered by the law firm and instead provides insights into the daily dilemmas faced not only by Wisconsin classroom teachers but  others with a stake in public education. Teachers, parents and public are here furnished a disturbing glimpse of what can happen inside the walls of public schools but outside of the public view.
Teachers, for example, can be targets of subtle discrimination or find their professional careers compromised despite performing at a high professional level and conscientiously carrying out school district policies and objectives.  Teachers will recognize from the discussion that follows that they sorely need effective strategies to protect their careers and work environment.
On both a personal and professional level Attorney Osinga has an interest in issues facing classroom teachers and their students. As a result, he has taken the time to uncover and document a lengthy and troubling level of dysfunction in a Milwaukee area school district.  Attorney Osinga accomplished this through a process that included making open records requests and collecting information from third parties.  However, most important was the opportunity to examine sworn testimony of principals and administrators given during legal proceedings.
This careful fact-finding process ultimately revealed this school district exhibiting dysfunctional conduct that included the following:
  • Committing multiple violations of the Wisconsin’s open records law
  • Exhibiting a failed and inconsistent implementation of district policies including student bullying
  • Engaging in a troubling pattern of inconsistent and misleading sworn testimony and written statements
  • Tolerating a troubling display by principals and administrators of sloppy, ill-informed and subjective teacher evaluations
  • Seeing school board members who fail to respond responsibly when made aware of the dysfunction
  • Failing to protect the school district from avoidable or ill-advised litigation that wastes public monies that could be better spent on  educating students
Please recognize that while the materials that follow are a limited sampling of the documentary and testimonial evidence collected they do, nevertheless, provide an accurate picture of the dysfunction.
The attachments at the bottom of this website page are lengthy but informative.  They should be  required reading for each and every Wisconsin classroom teacher.  The practical implications of what they contain should be the subject of discussion in every school faculty break room. Unfortunately, they may also provide a reality check for anyone considering whether to become a career educator in Wisconsin.      
Introduction by Attorney Osinga:
1. Open Records & Bullying The Policies – Presentation A
2. Open Records & Bullying The Reality – Presentation B-1
3. Open Records & Bullying The Reality – Presentation B-2
4. Open Records & Bullying Déjà vu and Sleeping Watchdogs – Presentation B-3
5. Merit Pay The Policy – Presentation A
6. Merit Pay The Reality – Presentation B-1
7. Merit Pay The Reality – Presentation B-2
8. Conclusions From What You Have Learned
9. What An Answer for Teachers Looks Like
A Message to Teachers from Attorney Osinga:
Excerpts from discovery depositions in the open records case against the Wauwatosa School District:
Superintendent Ertl video #1:
Superintendent Ertl video #2:
Lyda Osinga video:
Others who may gain valuable lessons from these documents and commentary include:
Parents:  This information may help parents see the environment in the public schools that their children attend.  At some point parents may face situations where their children’s education, safety and wellbeing are being jeopardized or compromised.  This is often the product of inconsistent enforcement of school policies regarding the conduct of both students and employees.
Students: Wisconsin school districts must have bullying policies that are enforced consistently and on a zero tolerance basis.  When targeted by bullies all students must be encouraged to seek out parents, counselors and trusted teachers.  Students and their families then have every right to demand that these policies be vigorously and consistently enforced. 
The #MeToo sexual harassment movement has ably demonstrated the power of primarily adult victims willing to expose sexual misconduct that had too long been condoned.  Perhaps the next step will be students to similarly become as comfortable doing the same with bullying and other forms of harassment.
Administrators and Principals: They are entrusted with enforcing the conduct and personnel policies adopted by their school boards.  Both students and teachers suffer the adverse effects when such policies are ignored.  Student and employee confidentiality rules may afford a degree of secrecy they are also not absolute.  Open records and other laws remain as effective tools for the public to educate themselves on the perfomance of school decision makers.
Taxpayers: School district taxpayers have a direct interest in knowing whether school leaders are being careful and prudent in their use of the public monies they are currently entrusted with.  Taxpayers may become skeptical of requests for yet additional funding when current funds are wasted on non-essentials or avoidable legal matters.
School Board Members: School boards are elected to provide necessary oversight for public schools and their administrators.  When board members receive credible and verifiable information of school dysfunction it is their responsibility to investigate and act on it. These materials should also inform school board members into the practical reality of what can happen when merit pay or "pay for performance" policies are adopted and implemented. 
Local News Media: Members of the media should recognize that their journalistic responsibilities do not end with writing articles or running stories about tragic deaths resulting from bullying.  They instead have a larger public responsibility to aggressively investigate how bullying conduct is being handled by local schools.
Osinga Law Offices, S.C.
13500 Capitol Drive, Suite 201
Brookfield, WI 53005
Phone: 262-717-9020

    Osinga Law Offices, S.C.
    13500 Capitol Drive, Suite 201
    Brookfield, WI 53005

    Phone: 262-717-9020