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LISTEN: Abraham describes his departure from La Crosse School Board as a way to get voters’ attention

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A resignation from the La Crosse School Board this week was aimed at getting voters to pay attention to how the public schools are being run, according to that former board member.

Abraham

On Monday night, Rob Abraham announced during the board meeting that he was quitting, as a protest over the district’s announced plans to merge Central and Logan into one high school, even if a building referendum fails. 

Speaking Thursday on WIZM’s La Crosse Talk, Abraham said the elected board doesn’t seem to have much influence on the unelected school administrators. Abraham added that the plans released by Superintendent Aaron Engel appeared to be “almost blackmail” to get voters to pass the $194.7 million bond issue.

“It really isn’t a representative type model,” Abraham told Mike Hayes, “whereas the people who get elected really have a lot of input.

“This school board, this model, has basically handed over their authority oversight to the superintendent to really just run things as he or she wishes.”

Abraham expects that the district will fill his former seat in the next regular election in April.  The retired La Crosse policeman is also an elected member of the La Crosse County Board.

This summer marks 30 years since the 1992 recall elections in the La Crosse district, in which four school board members were removed by voters angry over a school busing plan. 

At the time, many people accused the elected board of being a “rubber stamp” for the school superintendent. 

Comments in social media against the current school plans also suggest the 2022 school board is a rubber stamp for district leaders. Abraham said he’s upset that many people on the board and in management don’t have kids in the La Crosse schools now, including Engel.

“When you’re making these decisions that don’t really impact you or your children,” Abraham says, “I think voters really need to look at that and think carefully when they’re voting, and try to balance a board that there isn’t this ‘group think.'”

The November referendum seeks $194 million to place a new high school at the current site of the Trane Company headquarters, near State Road School.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Chip DeNure

    August 5, 2022 at 7:36 am

    Maybe the elected school board members should stand up to Mr. Engel, who is not an elected official, and tell him a few things.

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