Hancock citizen praises district’s admin, comments on internal strife

HANCOCK — Hancock resident Frank Hawthorne addressed the School Board at its regular January meeting, offering his appreciation for the school district’s efforts in improving the buildings and the district as a whole.

But he also commented on apparent increasing internal tensions between faculty, administration and the board.

He began by expressing his thanks for the recent shooting drill, which, he said, demonstrated the administration holds the security of the building and safety of the students as a high priority.

“This is the first time in a long time we’ve had the right people in place to keep this district moving in a positive direction,” Hawthorne said. “Mr.Vaara, (elementary school principal) Mr. Beaudoin (superintendent) and Mr. Ohan (high school and middle school principal) have brought integrity and accountability back to this district that was lacking such.”

Hawthorne went on to say that they have placed the students first and foremost and not personal agendas, vendettas and personal gain.

“My wife and I have met with all three on different occasions, with different concerns,” said Hawthorne. “We were met professionally, with open minds, handled with discretion, and most importantly, they were handled appropriately to all involved.”

Hawthorne said he and his wife had attended a few board meetings during the school year and were not happy with what they had witnessed.

“…Each time, we left appalled and disappointed after witnessing blatant disrespect,” he said. “It did not take long to see the personal agendas and vendettas that were taking place, all in an attempt to disrupt the effort to make this a premier learning center in the Copper Country. Why? Because it’s no longer a free-for-all here. There is now a accountability here. Faculty is now expected to conduct themselves appropriately at all times.”

As an example, Hawthorne said the long-held practice of a number of teachers using the high school weight room for exercise during school hours had been abolished.

Hawthorne said for 12 years he worked drawing “a paycheck from the taxpayers” in criminal justice, and he did not consider it ethical to exercise during his shift while being paid.

“These personal agendas do nothing but harm the district,” he said. “I guess that is the objective this year. Nothing is off-limits to these individuals in sacrificing the integrity of this district, and all for their personal agendas. Stop the agendas and the smearing, and start making this a better place for the students.”