A Middleton High School employee is on leave after segregating students for a standardized test based solely on race, according to an email to parents from Middleton High School Principal Peg Shoemaker and Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District Superintendent Dana Monogue.
School district spokesman Perry Hibner said Middleton High School freshmen and sophomores are scheduled to take the STAR Math and Literacy tests this month during advsory time, an unstructured “study hall” time. Hibner said about 10 to 15 students have been habitually absent during that time, so the decision was made to schedule those students to take the test at another time when they’d be likely to be in school.
However, on Wednesday, a staff member scheduled a much larger group for that earlier test time — all of them students of color.
Students were alerted through the district’s online scheduling system that they had been requested to go to the library to take the test during their advisory periods. Not all students who were requested to go to the library did so, but those who did apparently noticed that only students of color were in the room.
Hibner said he wasn’t sure how many students in total were asked to take the test early, but “there were no white students who were brought in. It certainly made the kids feel uncomfortable when they walked in the library and saw a bunch of other kids that look like them, but also didn’t see some other kids who didn’t look like them.”
Administrators were alerted to the incident in emails from parents last night, and suspended the staff member this morning.
“This is wholly unacceptable and we sincerely apologize that this happened at our school,” Monogue said in a statement. “This staff member has been placed on leave while a full investigation is underway. We are working on a plan to repair the harm done with our students … These actions are intolerable and do not represent our beliefs or who we want to be as a school or as a district.”
District officials declined to identify the staff member or what kind of job they do. Hibner said the met with Department of Employee Relations staff today.
“I appreciate the school’s response,” said the mother of one of the sophomores who was scheduled to take the test early. “But what I don’t appreciate is that they have members employed there to where things like this are even happening in the first place.”
The parent asked to remain anonymous to avoid embarrassment or reprisals against her child.
A video on the school’s website urges students to take the test and emphasizes the importance of doing well.
Seventy five percent of Middleton High School’s 2,100 students are white, according to DPI data.