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Four tech staff members fired, fifth on leave from Willmar, Minn., Schools

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news Willmar, 56201
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

WILLMAR -- Five people have been removed from the Willmar School District's technology staff after an investigation into alleged misconduct and violation of school laws and rules.

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District staff were notified Thursday in an email to all employees.

The email from Human Resources Director Liz Fischer did not provide specific reasons for the terminations.

Superintendent Jerry Kjergaard said Friday morning that government data laws prohibited the release of more information.

He did say that the situation was "nothing that involved students," and the investigation did not reveal any security issues with regard to students.

Four people were terminated: Steven Giroux, network administrator at Willmar Senior High; Jamie Cluka, technology technician based at the Willmar Education and Arts Center; Adam Tucker, technology technician at the Senior High; and Emily Miller, technology technician at Willmar Middle School.

Giroux, the highest-ranking member of the group, did not return a message left for him at his home on Friday.

Eugene Lubbers, technology technician for WEAC, the Area Learning Center and other alternative programs, is on paid administrative leave "pending the exhaustion of his rights under the Veterans Preference Act," Fischer wrote.

On Friday morning, the district's website listed nine members on its technology team, by Friday afternoon, only four remained.

The district has beefed up its information technology needs in recent years, including adding more than 600 Apple iPad2 table computers for students at the Senior High this year and more in every building in the district.

A few years ago, the district had a handful of iPads. This year, it has about 1,700 of the tablets.

A community fundraising campaign helped raise money for the one-to-one iPad initiative for high school juniors and seniors. The district has also purchased iPads for the use of faculty members and classrooms, maintained on carts for use in the school buildings.

Kjergaard said the district will work with Bennett Office Technologies of Willmar and other local companies to ensure continuity of service. The email also provided employees with some guidelines for reporting technology issues during the transition.

School district policies list violation of school laws and rules and misconduct as two of the three categories in which employees may be disciplined. The third category, substandard performance, was not listed in Fischer's email.

Both categories listed in the email cover broad territory. The misconduct lists 13 possible violations. They include things like unprofessional conduct, personal misconduct, violating the rights of others and neglect of duty. There is no indication in the email which portions of the policy may have been violated or if the violations were the same for all five employees.

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