Editor's Note: In January, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published a story that shed some light on what residents are calling a moral issue with current District Administrator Rachel Boechler - her silence after a 16-year-old student confided to Boechler that she was having a sexual relationship with a 28-year-old teacher. That happened when she was a counselor at Wauwatosa East High School.
This letter was written and sent to the Fox Point-Bayside School Board by Tad Walter, a Fox Point resident and father of two children who attend school in the district.
To the members of the Fox Point-Bayside School Board:
I am very concerned by the January article in the Journal Sentinel regarding Superintendent Rachael Boechler’s past conduct as an educator. As a parent of two children in Fox Point and Bayside schools (and as an average citizen), it is unacceptable that a person of authority failed to protect a student no matter the circumstances.
While clearly there is a substantial backstory, the fact is that a child was being sexually abused, Ms. Boechler was aware, and chose not to report it. Because of this I ask the Fox Point-Bayside School Board to request Ms. Boechler’s resignation immediately.
Ms. Boechler may be a strong administrator and - God willing - such an event will not occur again. However, her gross error in judgment should have excluded her from being hired and is justification for her resignation.
In this day and age with the scandals at Penn State, within the Catholic Church and elsewhere, how can we as parents and you as board members ignore inaction and misconduct in the past of our superintendent? Where is the accountability that we as a society demand on individuals to do the right thing and protect our children from harm?
The details and nuances of the story are secondary to the primary point that when a student came to Ms. Boechler, she did not protect the individual and alert authorities. To hear that she understood the student to be 18 years old and therefore the incidents did not merit reporting - is disturbing on many fronts.
For Ms. Boechler not to confirm the students age is a performance failure. And even if the student was then 18, surely Ms. Boechler did not believe the relationship started when the student became of age thus a crime had been committed to a minor. Perhaps most disturbing is Ms. Boechler’s excuse of student confidentiality.
I have no faith in an administrator who holds the friendship and confidence of a student above what is morally right and legally required. I have no interest in discussing this matter with Ms. Boechler (as she offered in the article). I do not know her, but I assume she is a solid professional and a good person. However, her past failure in judgment undermines her credibility as an educator and disqualifies her as the leader of our school district.
Past actions are an indication of how individuals respond to future situations. We have come to expect more from our school system at Fox Point-Bayside; but first and foremost is that its leaders protect our children from harm. Unfortunately, Ms. Boechler failed in this fundamental expectation.
I ask the School Board to correct their mistake in hiring Ms. Boechler and seek her replacement now.
- Tad Walter