Longtime Green Bay teacher resigns, raises concerns of safety at middle school
GREEN BAY (WLUK) -- A Green Bay middle school teacher shared shocking allegations of dangerous conditions when she resigned from her job.
After teaching for more than a decade with the Green Bay School District, Kerstin Westcott held back tears as she resigned.
"I am here today, it is with great sadness, that I inform you of my resignation from the Green Bay School District," she said.
She made the announcement at a recent school board meeting.
Watch Westcott's testimony at the June 5 meeting:
Before stepping down, Westcott taught sixth grade at Washington Middle School.
She described the work environment as toxic.
"We are in danger every day that we show up to our school, students, and staff are physically, verbally, emotionally, and mentally, sexually abused every single day in the building," she told the board.
She explaining that in one instance, an ambulance was called.
"Just a couple weeks of go a teacher a taken away by an ambulance with a bleeding head wound, caused by a fight among three students."
FOX 11 reached out to Westcott, and she hasn't responded.
But during the school board meeting, Westcott claimed several of the disturbances were not formally addressed, including a threat made by a student:
"Just last week a student told multiple people at multiple times 'I'm going to shot up the school.'"
The Green Bay Area Public School District declined to do an on-camera interview. However, Superintendent Michelle Langenfeld released a statement in regards to Westcott's concerns:
On behalf of the Green Bay Area Public School District, I would like to assure our families and community that safety is our highest priority. We have and continue to be committed to the Washington Middle School students, staff and families to ensure a positive learning environment. District administration and the Board of Education have taken all concerns brought forth seriously and have been working with Washington Middle School administration and staff to improve student behaviors and to address any safety concerns for both students and staff.
Executive Director of Secondary Education Tom Hoh, who supervises all secondary principals, has worked closely with Washington Middle School administrators to provide direction and support. As concerns emerged in the winter of 2017, a District office student success team was created that included administrators and staff from the departments of special education, teaching and learning, technology, and pupil services, who meet with Washington Middle School administrators on a regular basis to continue to strategize how to best support staff and students. These supports were implemented due to our recognition that additional resources were required to address student academic and behavior needs at Washington Middle School.
In early May, the Board of Education and administration became aware of the growing staff concerns similar to those shared by Ms. Westcott in June. Upon learning of these concerns, the Board of Education and District Administration took the concerns very seriously. In response, the following occurred:
- We held a meeting with staff.
- Mr. Hoh increased his time at Washington to provide daily on-site support.
- Two District office administrators were deployed daily to Washington Middle School until the end of the school year. Additional staff resources were also provided.
- A second meeting was held in June with Associate Superintendent John Magas, Director of Pupil Services Vicki Bayer and myself after Ms. Westcott’s address to the Board. The purpose of this second meeting was to listen to staff concerns following the infusion of the additional resources and to continue to strategize solutions. Staff reported concerns, but also reported improvements in behavior and reinforced their commitment to the students and families of Washington Middle School and to improving the environment at Washington.
Due to our observations and staff reporting improvement in student behavior based on the actions taken in the spring, the District will continue and expand our support of the efforts described above. The District’s plan for next school year, with input from staff and community, includes additional school administrators and staff to provide support with counseling, ELL and special education services, family engagement, and student behaviors.
Specifically, in response to Ms. Kerstin Westcott’s statement to the Board of Education on June 5, 2017, first, I would like to state that Ms. Westcott is an excellent teacher. I know this because I have been in her classroom as recently as April of this year, during an unannounced visit, where I found students to be engaged in learning. I also visited Washington Middle School two other times in May, and at those times I did not witness behaviors that would have raised concerns. So it is with deep sadness that Kerstin had not shared her concerns with me prior to her resignation in June.
I do think it is important to note that Washington Middle School staff and its students have many wonderful achievements and much to be proud of and we ask for our community's support as we continue to ensure student success and a positive school culture for all.
Westcott received a Golden Apple in 2014.
"If they know I think they can, then they'll go for it, and they succeed every day," she said in her 2014 interview with FOX 11.
But three years later, deciding to leave the job she once loved, she said, "I fear for my safety, every day."