WAUKEE, Iowa — Of the seven Waukee School board members, three have their terms ending next month. None of those three are running for reelection. This has prompted a wave of six candidates running for the three open seats.
Wendy Marsh, Alex Smith, Terry Welker, Armel Traore dit Nignan, Dan Gehlbach and Michael Schrodt are all running to take over the spots currently held by Susan Bunz, Ethan Huisman and Jerry Ripperger.
After the scandal surrounding the district’s former COO Eric Rose, those running for the school board are hoping for a clean slate.
Last December, prosecutors charged Rose with soliciting a felony and felonious misconduct in office. In April, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges as part of plea deal. He was sentenced to one year of probation.
Rose was accused of altering time cards and using his position to solicit donations to his son’s hockey team. Three employees who blew the whistle on Rose filed lawsuits claiming they were retaliated against. The district has settled each one, with the total amount topping $2.1 million.
“There are people in this community that are angry and upset,” said Shrodt.
“It is our duty to be transparent and accountable to you,” said Smith.
“I`m really happy we`ve settled this lawsuit and that we can sort of have a clean slate now for this new board,” said Gehlbach.
Many who attended a candidate forum Thursday night say they feel those running for the school board will make sure whistle blowers are protected going forward.
“I do believe they’re trying to take it in a different direction,” said Waukee resident Joan Ross.
But that doesn`t take away the frustration of how the former superintended handled what happened in the past.
“Had Wilkerson done his job when this started, we wouldn`t be where we are at today,” said Ross.
Waukee residents are also mad about the lost money that could’ve been used to help students.
“That’s a lot of money that could’ve been used in the school district doing things for students’,” said Ross.
At the end of the day, parents hope the scandal is all behind, and with the school board election, a new chapter can start. The election is set for Nov. 5.