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UPDATE: Menomonie School Board censures member after profane outburst

The board voted 5-4 to censure Jim Swanson, who delivered a profane outburst in a meeting Monday night.
Published: Aug. 14, 2020 at 5:10 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - A petition to recall board member James Swanson has now been filled in Dunn County.

The petition was filed Aug. 25.

The Menomonie School Board has voted 5-4 to censure school board member Jim Swanson following a profanity filled outburst during Monday night’s meeting.

In a discussion regarding social distancing, Swanson asked the board to consider the 6 feet of physical distance recommended by the CDC rather than the 4 feet eventually approved in the district’s back to school plan. The discussion led to Swanson directing profanity and his middle finger towards school board president David Styer.

The censure will not remove any of Swanson’s power as a school board member.

“Basically it is a statement on behalf of the board saying we are not accepting of Mr. Swanson’s behavior and we would appreciate if he would improve that from this point forward,” says school board Vice-President Penny Burstad, who voted in favor of the censure.

Board member Chris Freeman voted against the censure, expressing concern during the meeting that it is an overstep of power to have a lawyer create a censure document in advance, one that threatens the use of law enforcement.

“In a censure meeting what is supposed to happen is we have a discussion and then we make an action but in this case what happened is the censure was made beforehand,” Freeman says. “There is no question Jim Swanson’s behavior needed to be corrected...what we had a problem with is the overuse of power and how the situation went down.”

None of the members defended Swanson’s behavior however some members say passive-aggressiveness and hostility are ongoing issues at board meetings.

“The clear way forward is to act together as a board rather than resorting to power actions,” Freeman says. “It is not about us, it is about the kids unfortunately the censure project looked a lot like politics.”

Jim Swanson delivered a statement to the board on Friday morning:

Below is the censure document signed by the school board.

School Board Censure
School Board Censure(WEAU)
School Board Censure
School Board Censure(WEAU)

Copyright 2020 WEAU. All rights reserved.

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