Pocahontas Area High School/Middle School building. (photo from school website)

Several people turned out to speak at Monday’s Pocahontas Area School Board meeting on a petition that calls for the removal of Superintendent Joe Kramer.

The board received the petition last month, which cites concerns about the amount of staff turnover, declining enrollment, alleged retaliation, spending issues, and a possible hostile working environment.

Pocahontas Area School Board President Paul Berte told those attending, that the Department of Education and district attorney say a petition is not a vehicle to challenge board employment decisions or work assignments. “The board will allow comment on the petition but will not respond to the comments and will not take any action on the superintendent’s contract today and that’s under the guidance of the district attorney,” he says.

Irene Carlson was a Pocahontas Area school board member for six years under a previous superintendent. “Up until the last few years PSC was known to be one of the finest schools in Iowa more and more issues have arisen extra school from janitors, bus drivers, and educators having concerns that the current administration is out of touch with these employees as the school board has lost touch with the citizens of the school district. We need to get this problem resolved before it’s too late. We have lost good teachers bus drivers, cooks, parents and staff. I believe it’s time to clean house starting at the top.”

Others voiced their displeasure about a lack of communication with several of the board members. There were some who spoke in defense of Kramer, including former school board member Dan Duitscher. “All the years that I was on when we did our annual reviews of Mr. Kramer, they’re all very positive with all the members of the board at that time. Never once was I ever contacted about Mr. Kramer about things in a negative way,” he says. “When you’re superintendent, you have to make decisions that will not make everyone happy. The accomplishments that Mr. Kramer has been here having been made where we’re sitting right down this high school, which was for him and with his advice. Also the upgrades of elementary school.”

Another speaker said, “either the school board fixes the mess the district is in, or voters will fix it in November of 2023.”
The petition was signed by more than 230 Pocahontas Area residents.

(By Ryan Thompson, KAYL, Storm Lake)