Madison school board members object to East High principal hire

Dylan Brogan:

After learning from Madison school board president Gloria Reyes that district officials had decided to make Brendan Kearney the permanent principal of East High, school board member Ananda Mirilli quickly sent an email asking district administrators to hold off on the hire.

The email, obtained by Isthmus, was sent with support from board members Ali Muldrow and Nicki Vander Muelen. Mirilli lists board colleagues Savion Castro and Cris Carusi as sharing her concerns. But Castro tells Isthmus the email was sent without his consent. Carusi, in a statement sent by Tim LeMonds, the district’s public information officer, says that she also did not give permission to include her name on the email. 

“I believe these families, the East community and the entire MMSD community deserve to know what happened, who was all involved, what really happened with communication to the families and law enforcement and clarity on our crisis response,” wrote Mirilli at 11:30 a.m. on Feb. 20. “Our community deserves to know what we have done to support our families immediately after the first call was made by the students and subsequent events thereafter.”

About an hour later, interim Superintendent Jane Belmore informed parents via email that Kearney would be the new principal at East High, effective immediately. Two sources confirm to Isthmus that Belmore knew board members had previously raised concerns about moving forward with the hire.

David Kruchten, a business teacher at East and the advisor for the DECA club, was one of two chaperones on the school trip to Minneapolis where hidden cameras were found in the rooms of students. On Jan. 30 he was arrested on seven federal charges of “attempting to produce child pornography” for two separate incidents in 2019. On Feb. 6, he was also indicted on three counts of “interfer[ing] with privacy against a minor” in Hennepin County, Minnesota. The criminal complaint alleges Kruchten placed hidden cameras in three rooms “that were positioned in bathrooms in places where the likely intent was to capture sexual imagery.”

The cameras were concealed in a smoke detector and in two air fresheners.

Related: “The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”