Kindergarten teacher who went on rampage against GOP signs placed on paid leave

Posted: Sep 03, 2014 1:36 PM
Kindergarten teacher who went on rampage against GOP signs placed on paid leave

By M.D. Kittle | Wisconsin Reporter

MADISON, Wis. — The Germantown kindergarten teacher who was cited for disorderly conduct after police said she tore up and stomped on several Republican signs at the Jefferson County Fair because she was “so angry with Gov. Scott Walker” is on paid leave, Wisconsin Reporter has learned.

April Kay Smith, 38, who teaches at Amy Belle Elementary School, first denied, then admitted to Jefferson County authorities she damaged several signs at the Jefferson County Republican Party booth after the fair had shut down for the night on July 9.

Germantown Superintendent Jeff Holmes confirmed that Smith is on administrative leave and an investigation into her conduct is ongoing.

“We hope to have the investigation completed and reported out to the (school) board by the end of the September,” he said.

An incident report obtained by Wisconsin Reporter last month notes Smith “confessed to damaging and ripping out the signs.”

“She stated her husband told her to lie and that she’s just so angry with (Gov.) Scott Walker due to the fact that she was a school teacher,” the report states.

Walker’s collective-bargaining reforms, known as Act 10, checked the power of public employee labor unions and elicited the ire of many state and local government workers.

Smith appeared “to have glassy and bloodshot eyes and slurred speech,” a Jefferson County deputy wrote in the report, which states Smith tested .06 in a preliminary breath test, under the legal limit of intoxication.

A Germantown School District official said public opinion has been “very lopsided” against Smith returning to teach her young charges, but there are “legal issues” with which the district has to deal.

AP file photo

SIGN OF THE TIMES? There were many cases of politically charged vandalism during 2012′s historic recall attempt of Gov. Walker. But it appears those hostile days are back, according to an incident report obtained by Wisconsin Reporter that accuses Germantown teacher April Kay Smith of damaging Walker signs and those of other Republicans last month at the Jefferson County fair.

“I feel that no one wants her back in the classroom,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “It is clear to say the (school) board has given the utmost attention to this matter, and is deeply concerned.”

Even those who have defended Smith as a good teacher have expressed disgust with her behavior, the district official said.

Holmes said he could not speak to specifics, but did confirm the district has received “numerous communications from individuals in regard to this situation.”

“We take those inquiries and comments quite seriously,” the superintendent said.

Smith could not be reached for comment, and previously has not returned Wisconsin Reporter’s requests for an interview.

The incident report, filed by Jefferson County Deputy Heather Larson, states that Smith and her husband, Andrew Smith, 31, originally lied to the officer, despite the fact a witness, Roxane Stillman, 62, of rural Madison, reported seeing Smith destroy the signs. Stillman, in a July 23 story, told Wisconsin Reporter she followed the suspect around the fairgrounds for more than a half hour, calling out for a police officer.

The Jefferson County GOP first made the matter public on conservative talk show host Vicki McKenna’s show a few days after the incident.

Stillman said she and her friend were enjoying some kettle corn on a bench across from the Jefferson County Republican Party booth when she said she saw a young woman who looked to be in her late 20s or early 30s at the booth. She said the woman squatted down, like she was relieving herself, and then began smashing up the signs.

Stillman called out to the woman, telling her to wait, that she was going to call the police. The woman started walking away — then she started running, Stillman said.

“I said, ‘Honey, I’m good for about five miles. If you want to run, that’s OK. I’ll stay with you,’” Stillman said. “When she realized she wasn’t going to outrun me she started walking fast all over the fairgrounds trying to ditch me. Everywhere we walked, I yelled out, ‘Someone get the police! This lady damaged property.’”

Stillman claims that, at one point in the chase, the woman grabbed her arm, squeezed it hard and said, “You must like the Koch brothers!”

When Larson arrived at the scene, the deputy asked Smith about Stillman’s allegations, according to the incident report. Smith told the deputy she had “no idea” what the witness was talking about, the deputy reported.

At that time, Smith told the deputy she was a kindergarten teacher from Germantown, the report states.

“I advised her again that I believe she was being untruthful and asked her how she would feel if one of her students lied to her,” Larson wrote in the report. “At this time, she confessed to damaging and ripping out the signs, She stated her husband told her to lie and that she’s just so angry with Scott Walker due to the fact that she was a school teacher.”