MPS administrator files retaliation complaint against the district, state board finds probable cause

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A Milwaukee Public Schools administrator filed a complaint against the district, alleging she was discriminated against, harassed, and faced retaliation for raising concerns.

As a result, a state agency recently found probable cause MPS violated employment law, and will hold an administrative hearing.

Dr. Debbie Keuther says she witnessed discrimination and intentional non-compliance with state education standards. But when she reported it, she says she suffered retaliation from as high as the Office of the Superintendent.

Dr. Kuether said, "I was attempting to alert our senior staff and everyone in between that we are going to be in a real situation if we don’t address this in a timely fashion. And there was no interest in addressing it."

Dr. Kuether says in 2019 she started to notice MPS was not meeting federal and state education standards for students. At the time, she was the district's director of K-12 literacy. She said there were a lot of issues with student resources and access.

She took her concerns to district administrators, saying, "I laid out a document where I took the standards and the state statutes and pointed out where there was a disconnect between what was occurring in our office and what we needed to do."

She says she was retaliated against, taken off committees, then eventually reassigned to the vaguely-titled Administrator on Special Assignment.

The Equal Rights Division of the state's Department of Workforce Development found probable cause MPS may have violated the Wisconsin fair employment law.

Kuether says the system failed her and students, and key administrators willingly allowed it. When asked if it's an issue of the people in charge or the process, she said, "My personal belief is it’s the people that are involved. And it’s the process."

CBS 58 requested an interview with MPS administrators but the district declined, saying no one could talk about the matter while it's ongoing.

The first administrative hearings will start next week. Dr. Keuther's attorney says high-level MPS administrators will testify sometime in March.

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