Teacher made Nygren threat
'School resources' used to e-mail
Wednesday, May 18, 2011 7:00 PM
PESHTIGO - An e-mail sent in the heat of the moment may have landed a Peshtigo High School teacher in some very hot water. The trouble began March 25, when Peshtigo chorus teacher Rob Schneider sent a threatening, profanity-laced e-mail to State Rep. John Nygren.
The message, in reply to "Nygren's Notes" (an e-mail newsletter periodically sent to subscribers) stated:
"(Expletive) you!!! I pray that a semi-truck will run you over you piece of (expletive) (expletive)! If there is a God that (expletive) Governor Walker will be riding with you when the truck hits your sorry (expletive)!!!!!!!!!! Stop (expletive) sending me your (expletive)!!! You are a waste of human space!!!!"
According to Nygren, his office was required to report any threatening communications at the time, as the partisan battle over Scott Walker's proposed budget bill had reached a fever pitch.
The e-mail was turned the over to Chief Charles Tubbs of the Capitol Police who forwarded the complaint to the Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigation.
When investigators contacted Schneider, he admitted to sending the e-mail.
According to the DCI report, Schneider stated "he was intoxicated and upset because he may lose his house if the bill is passed into law (and) said he never intended to physically harm Rep. Nygren and will never send such an e-mail again."
The EagleHerald was not successful in its efforts to reach Schneider.
Nygren said that he didn't take the e-mail entirely seriously.
"Well, first of all, I don't know that I would call it a death threat - I kind of downplayed it a little bit. It was forwarded on because we were required to do that.
"I mean, he certainly didn't wish me well," Nygren admitted.
Nygren said he wonders if that type of angry reaction sits well with the role of a school teacher.
"I guess my biggest concern at the time was the vulgarity of the e-mail and the fact that he was utilizing school resources at the time to send that type of message.
"And really, the number one (thing) was obviously he was angry, and I understand there was a very passionate debate going on, but if there's that type of anger that he's expressing and those type of words - my question is - is there an issue in the classroom that we should be aware of?" Nygren said.
The Peshtigo Board of Education will examine those and other concerns Tuesday evening when Schneider appears for a hearing before the board.
According to Peshtigo Superintendent Kim Eparvier, Schneider has been on administrative leave since April 4, and under state statute he has a right to a hearing.
Eparvier added that Schneider also has the right to request a closed-session hearing, but at this point he has not requested one.
Through speaking with Eparvier, Nygren said he understands how the process will shake out.
"Kim and I have talked a few different times, and they still have collective bargaining, so they do have some issues and procedures they have to follow when dealing with the union and disciplinary issues, but I'm confident they're on top of it," Nygren said.
Eparvier said that the district and the school board will ultimately be responsible for determining the level of discipline and severity of punishment that Schneider receives.
And while Nygren downplayed the incident, he suggested that there are some broader, more serious implications to consider.
"We kind of live in violent times, so you do have to take everything seriously - the issue in Arizona (Gabrielle Giffords' shooting) started with e-mail.
"I think we do have an obligation to make sure that everything is looked into, but I'm pretty confident that it's in the hands of the school and they will deal with it appropriately - as they see fit.
Schneider's hearing is scheduled for Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the Peshtigo School Board conference room.