Oshkosh school board approves new hires despite criticisms

"I cannot recall a time when two candidates put forward by administration have been so deeply scrutinized," board member Stephanie Carlin said.
Published: Jun. 1, 2023 at 6:13 AM CDT
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OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY) - The Oshkosh Board of Education voted Wednesday night to hire two new administrators to the district despite both candidates being the focus of discussions on social media.

“This is my seventh year on the board, and I cannot recall a time when two candidates put forward by administration have been so deeply scrutinized,” board member Stephanie Carlin said.

Wednesday night, following a lengthy discussion at the school board meeting, the board voted 6-1 to approve two new members of the administration.

Samuel Coleman will be the district’s new assistant superintendent. Anthony Miller Jr. will be the district’s first director of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Board member Kelly DeWitt, who cast the only no vote, asked the board to pull these agenda items so the board could have an open discussion.

“I think that, you know, we need to be aware and remember that we’re here solely because of our constituents in our community,” DeWitt said.

The hirings of the two people sparked debate on social media, particularly Coleman because of an accusation made last year at his former school district, Shorewood, that he sent racially inappropriate messages.

Superintendent Bryan Davis said he and Coleman worked together prior to Davis coming to Oshkosh. “The concerns again were, for me, were taken seriously, were inconsistent from what I know from his performance in working with him,” Davis said, “so that allowed me to have an opportunity to talk with him and to probably, most importantly, be able to dig down with his references.”

As for Miller, Davis said while Miller doesn’t have a teaching or administrative license to supervise school principals, Miller’s experience at University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and Fox Valley Technical College has shown his commitment to education and bringing access to education to all students.

“I believe that the translation from his work at Fox Valley Tech in this realm is going to be really important -- understanding barriers and how you removed barriers in educational setting, being able to translate that to a K-12 setting. I think will be an easy translation for him,” Davis said.

Both Coleman and Miller start July 5.