Details of Black River Falls superintendent resignation made public

By: Kevin Hurd Email
By: Kevin Hurd Email

BLACK RIVER FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) -- Two months ago Ron Saari resigned his post as superintendent of the Black River Falls school district.

But to fully understand the story, you have to go back to September. That's when, according to investigations obtained by WEAU 13 News through an Open Records Request, the school board received two complaints about Saari.

"The nature of the complaints violated the expectations of a district administrator, under state law, district policies, and the administrative contract, and at that point the board went forward with a preliminary investigation of those complaints," said Mary Jo Rozmenoski, School Board President in Black River Falls.

The first complaint surrounded a school board election. It says two candidates were given questionnaires to complete as part of the application process. Another employee overheard Saari saying he would author the questionnaire on behalf of Mark Thomley, one of the candidates, and saw a copy filled out in Saari's handwriting.

Both Saari and Thomley refute that in the report, saying Thomley called simply to better understand the questions.

The other complaint surrounds Saari using the district's credit card for personal purchases five times -- at a gas station, Subway, and Wal-Mart. The report says he paid it back except for the Subway purchases.

He blamed the mistake on long work weeks, an intertwined professional and personal life. The school's business director says she has only seen it happen twice in her career.

And during the investigation, more surfaced. It found possible illegal deer hunting, evidence that Saari authored an editorial under someone else's name, and President Obama jokes sent from his school e-mail account.

But because Saari resigned December 14th, the preliminary investigation never went further.

And now the district is moving from what was, to what is.

"We're looking forward to the opportunity of change," Rozmenoski added.

We tried reaching out to Saari at his home but our calls went unanswered.

Rozmenoski says the district has started the superintendent search. She says they hope to have a replacement in place by April.

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