MOUND, Minn. (WCCO) — The activities director of Westonka Public Schools has resigned following the prolonged controversy over the suspension of a group of students following their “Harlem Shake” music video.
Last month, six hockey players from Mound Westonka High School were suspended for filming the music video during lunch time. They said they had permission from school officials.
Some students and parents say that the suspensions that followed the dissemination of the video cost the hockey team their sectional game, which they lost to a lower-seeded opponent.
The suspensions were later downgraded from two days to one, but for many in the district, the damage had been done.
The students were also handed disorderly conduct citations after the incident.
This week, officials with Westonka Public Schools said activities director Dion Koltes, who had been placed on administrative leave in the aftermath of the incident, had resigned from his position.
“I really hope the school as a whole makes sure something like this doesn’t happen again,” said player Jack Brandstetter, who was one of the five suspended. “I think it’s the proper action he took not coming back. He’s really not welcome back.”
District superintendent Kevin Borg released a statement, saying Koltes would be paid for the remainder of this school year, but not the entirety of his contract, which went until the end of the 2013-2014 school year. He’ll get about $26,000.
The school district said they have an attorney performing an investigation into the incident, and some parents feel not using a third party for legal representation is a conflict of interest.
Brandstetter’s mother, Michelle, has issues with more than just Koltes. She’s frustrated with the administration’s unapologetic decision making, adding “if that means more must lose their jobs, then so bet it.” (Her full statement is at the bottom of this article).
“In order to give these events the thorough examination that is clearly warranted, it would be premature to set a completion date,” school board chair Dave Botts said. “This investigation is the top priority of the board and we will use these findings to determine what changes should be made.”
A steering committee made up from coaches, parents and others will be formed to help find the next activities director.
Michelle Brandstetter’s full statement verbatim.
“We are please to hear that Dion koltes will no longer be serving as athletic director for westonka public schools. His resignation is only part of the solution to the problems created by the district’ administration when they suspended students without good reason. The ultimate decision to suspend was made by the principal and vice principal. Neither of these men have apologized or explained fully to any of the parents why they made these decisions and why they refused to reconsider and or delay the decision before having all the information before them. Policies and procedures were either not followed or must be changed and we feel that these administrators that made the decisions to suspend must be held accountable. An investigation is being conducted by the school district regarding the steps that were taken yet it is being investigated by the law firm that regularly represents the westonka school district. Impartiality may be lacking. We as parents demand an apology from those that made these decisions, an acknowledgement of wrong doing and or mistakes and assurances that this will never happen again. If that means more must lose their jobs , then so be it.”