Last updated on March 22, 2021
State superintendent candidate Deborah Kerr solicited clients and organized branding for her private consulting business through her public school district email address, including several times during work hours, prior to her retirement as Brown Deer School District superintendent last year.
Emails obtained by the Wisconsin State Journal show Kerr used her district email address during work time to set up her private consulting firm, Lead Greatly LLC, on multiple different occasions from March to July 2020.
She used her district email to schedule meetings with the Danielson Group, a Chicago-based education company, about their teaching framework, often replying to messages between the district’s 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday work hours.
Records show Kerr also:
- Spent time during work hours discussing branding for Lead Greatly with her administrative assistant, who was helping Kerr with graphic design, through her district email.
- Mentioned her new consulting firm to superintendents in Fox Point Bayside School District and Maple Dale-Indian Hill School District while arranging district-related meetings to discuss consolidation projects.
- Directed a project manager with the Consortium for School Networking to Lead Greatly in her final days as superintendent of Brown Deer.
By the way, something else you should know:
The conservative-backed candidate to become Wisconsin’s top education official called on her Democratic-backed opponent to apologize for and denounce her television ad running statewide, a heated flashpoint during a virtual debate broadcast Wednesday.
Former Brown Deer Superintendent Deb Kerr and Pecatonica Superintendent Jill Underly also sparred over how to best emerge from the coronavirus pandemic, the future of taxpayer funded voucher schools and whether the state Department of Public Instruction needs to be dismantled.
The most contentious moment came when Underly brought up a financial scandal at Kerr’s district, which Underly also raised during her first statewide television ad that began airing this week. In the ad, Underly said Kerr can’t be trusted because of the scandal that broke in 2009, which she accused her of trying to cover up.
Kerr kept the district’s business manager on the payroll for 17 months after he overdrew the Brown Deer school district’s bank accounts by nearly $500,000. Kerr later wrote a letter of recommendation for the business manager when he sought another job.
“She supposedly fired a business manager, but then he got moved on to a glowing recommendation of hers,” Underly said Wednesday.
The candidates also clashed over a question of whether private voucher schools should receive public money.
“There's massive special interests connected to Betsy DeVos and Scott Walker and Donald Trump that want to take every penny of public funding that they can for private schools, and they don't care about the kids they are leaving behind. So I'm going to make sure we fight for every kid and not just the kids in the unaccountable voucher system,” Underly said.
“I am pro-kid. I do not support taking away a parent's right to choose where their kid goes to school,” Kerr said. “The state superintendent cannot change these laws. So look at the Legislature. Does anyone really think the current legislature is going to massively roll back these policies? No. But I'm going to continue to be an advocate and equity champion for all kids.”
Jill Underly’s (D. WI) campaign has united Democrats and unions in support of her campaign:
The election is April 6th. Click here to donate and get involved with Underly’s campaign.
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