Girl Scouts troop leader says organization is lying about her dismissal

Liz Steffel talks to FOX 11 about her dismissal from the Girl Scouts of the Northwestern Great Lakes. (WLUK)

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WLUK) -- The Girl Scouts of the Northwestern Great Lakes is denying it fired a Green Bay troop leader for her role in organizing and collecting money for a recent vigil.

FOX 11 first told you Monday night that the Girl Scouts "permanently suspended" Liz Steffel, the leader of Troop 4029, which is made up of 54 girls from west-side schools.

While the Girl Scouts still isn't saying why Steffel was let go, the organization wrote a letter to volunteers Tuesday to clear up what it calls misinformation.

A day after being dismissed from her employment and volunteer positions with the Girl Scouts, Steffel says it feels like she's living a nightmare.

“Most of the girls in my troop have histories of trauma, have histories of abuse, they have poor family backgrounds,” said Steffel while fighting back tears. “They need this troop. This is their one safe place. This is their one support system and it's being taken away from them. I just want to make sure they're going to be ok.”

Steffel was dismissed nine days after money was collected at a vigil she helped organize for three Girl Scouts and a Scout mother, who were hit and killed by a car while picking up trash along a highway in Chippewa Falls. Steffel says the money collected went directly to the victim's families without any official Girl Scouts involvement.

Steffel says she put on her troop's Facebook page that donations made directly to the Girl Scouts would not directly benefit the victim's families. She says the Girl Scouts of the Northwestern Great Lakes asked her to remove that language from the Facebook page.

“They said then if you choose that, you're choosing to be fired,” said Steffel. “So I said, I'll be fired because I can't go against my moral principles that these families who lost their kids are the ones that deserve the money.”

In its letter to its volunteers, the Girl Scouts of the Northwestern Great Lakes says the group feels “it is important to correct the misinformation that is being disseminated.”

The letter says the Girl Scouts make every attempt to retain its volunteers and staff to make sure both their needs and Council standards are met.

It says the Girl Scouts did not take punitive action on any individual, organization, or troop for any event or action related to supporting the families impacted by the Chippewa Falls tragedy.

The letter also says the Girl Scouts did not, will not, and cannot fundraise for the families impacted by the Chippewa Falls tragedy or direct the use of funds others raised. Any funds raised through private efforts are not for use by the Council.

“I don't understand why they're lying,” said Steffel.

Steffel says the Girl Scouts are lying because she was fired for action related to supporting the Chippewa Falls families.

“If there is another reason, I would love to know what that is because there was none given to me,” said Steffel.

It's unclear what the future is for Steffel's former troop. Members FOX 11 spoke with say they won't be part of the Girl Scouts unless she is reinstated.

The Girl Scouts of the Northwestern Great Lakes has maintained that because of privacy laws, it cannot disclose information about its employees or volunteers.

Also, on its website, the Girl Scouts group recommends donations for the victims' families be made through a GoFundMe page.

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