A tutor at Patrick Marsh Middle School in Sun Prairie has been removed from the Schools of Hope tutoring program after posting a Facebook comment suggesting “low income” students might ruin education for “good kids,” Urban League of Greater Madison CEO Ruben Anthony confirmed Wednesday.
Sue Oetzel, who has been a volunteer tutor only since December, commented Tuesday on a link to a Sun Prairie Star guest editorial opposing more low-income developments in the city posted in the “Welcome to Sun Prairie” group.
“I tutor at a middle school in Sun Prairie and it’s bad,” she wrote. “We don’t need more low income students ruining education for good kids.”
The apparent contrasting of “low income” as the opposite of “good,” and suggestion that students from low-income families would disrupt the education of “good kids,” sparked anger in many local Facebook users, several of whom say they contacted school and school district administrators.
“I have zero tolerance for comments like those made on Facebook (by Oetzel),” said Anthony, whose Urban League of Greater Madison manages the Schools of Hope program at the middle school level for several schools in and around Madison. “We appreciate her willingness to help out, but … if that’s the way she thinks, we do not need her tutoring our kids. That’s not debatable.”
Anthony said Oetzel had been informed that her services would no longer be required late Wednesday morning.
“The comment made by the person does not align with our mission and vision in Sun Prairie,” said Sun Prairie Area School District Communications Director Patricia Lux-Weber. “Our mission is to love all of our kids.”
Lux-Weber declined to comment further, saying the district was handling the situation as a “personnel matter,” even though Oetzel is not a school district employee.
Urban League Director of Middle School Programs Andrew Schilcher said that about 16 tutors remain at Patrick Marsh Middle School. He also said Oetzel had passed the Urban League’s screening program for volunteers.
“There were no red flags,” he said.
Oetzel did not respond to a message seeking comment.