Dear Editor:    

     I am a 38-year Hancock County Schools employee, who teaches English at Oak Glen High School.

     A wise man once told me that if I wanted to know what occurred at a Board of Education meeting, I should attend, and, so, I do. I have been a regular attendee for the past four years. As such, I know that the Board has no latitude to answer questions unless an item specifically appears on the meeting’s agenda. Most people don’t realize that and think they can question the Board at a meeting, and become quite irate and insulting when the Board members can’t give answers.

     This letter is in response to the misinformation that has appeared in the media and about the impugning of the reputations of our Board of Education members and our Superintendent.

     Much is being made about the Board’s hiring a firm specializing in school law. One thing that needs clarifying is that, yes, the prosecutor’s office can represent the Board in legal matters. However, the prosecutor’s office isn’t required to represent the Board, nor would they do it for free. The Board would be charged for their services, just as any other client. The Board wouldn’t be paying for experts. School law requires specialized school lawyers. That’s why the Board hires them.

     I’m an English teacher. Theoretically, I could cover a math class in an emergency, but there is no way I would be qualified to teach a math class.

     If I wanted a will drawn up, I’d hire an estate attorney. If someone gets in trouble with the law, he/she would call a criminal attorney. There are specializations for a reason.

     The Board is prohibited, by law, from discussing on-going litigation, personnel matters, or student matters in public, hence, the reason for all of the executive sessions. No one is trying to talk secretively behind closed doors. The Board is being as transparent as they can.

     Something else that needs clarifying is the so-called vote of no-confidence in this Board and our Superintendent. The results of that “vote” were quite misleading to the public. The originators of that “vote” failed to state that two schools in the county did not vote. I know for a fact that no one – not one administrator, teacher, or staff member voted at Oak Glen High School, even though they all had the opportunity to do so. Not. One. But that wasn’t acceptable to one of the originators who called at least one of my colleagues at home on the weekend to badger her into voting. Apparently, they were that desperate.

     I have known Danny Kaser for over 50 years. He came up through the ranks working as a teacher, the head of the Career Center, in the Finance Office, and was the superintendent, before retiring and being elected to the Board of Education. His integrity and reputation are above reproach. He has spent his adult life dedicated to the students of Hancock County.

     Larry Shaw and I taught together for 30 years. During that time, we became good friends, and that bond continues. He is a well-respected coach and educator who had a great impact on his students’ lives.

     Although I don’t know Toni Hinerman quite as well, I do know that she also was a wonderful educator who had a positive influence on her students. She remains devoted to the students of Hancock County.

     Dawn Petrovich and I taught together at Oak Glen. She also came up through the ranks. She inherited an unholy mess from the previous superintendent and has done an admirable job of guiding the school system through that upheaval as well as through the past two years of strife surrounding the pandemic. She continues to work behind the scenes to help individual students. The past four years, she kept in constant contact with one of our students to encourage him to come to school, even providing him transportation so that he could finally graduate, and he is! She does these things without fanfare or recognition.

     None of these four steadfast individuals make decisions without doing due diligence and only after exhaustive research, consulting with all available experts. They don’t deserve to get yelled at or demeaned when they can’t answer questions put to them by delegations. None of them have earned the vilifications they have unjustly received the past few months.

As an employee and as a taxpayer, I have the utmost confidence in this Board and in this Superintendent.


Cynthia Nelson