NORTHWOOD, IA- “I still can’t believe in our little community we’re dealing with a problem like this,” said Robert Weselmann of Northwood.
Weselmann is in shock after learning the Northwood Kensett school districts new Family Consumer Science teacher, Sara Fenske, is facing her second charge of possession of an illegal substance.
“I don’t comprehend how we could have a situation like this exist,” he said.
When you go to Iowa Courts Online you can see a number of different charges including an OWI charge from 2014 that was later dismissed. That’s the same year the Iowa Board of Education Examiners said she obtained her teaching license. But there is no sign of the first drug charge. According to the Worth County Sheriff’s Office, that’s because it was a deferred judgement meaning once Fenske finished her probation it was wiped from her record. That would also mean future employers, like Northwood-Kensett Schools wouldn’t see the first charge when they conduct a background check.
“I feel for the administrators that hired her and the kids that were in classroom,” said Weselmann. “We don’t know the effect that had in our community.”
The superintendent of schools declined to go on camera but because the charges were wiped from Fenske’s background she could have been hired at any school searching for a new teacher like the Clear Lake School District which is hiring for a new agriculture teacher.
“Anytime you don’t know something it’s always scary,” said Clear Lake Schools Superintendent Doug Gee.
Gee said they do try and take some extra steps when hiring a new candidate to prevent something like this from happening.
“I advise my administrators to check social media; you can pick up a lot of things from friends or something like that,” he said. “Obviously do a good background check and call their references. We even call people who may have worked with them who are not a reference.”
But Weselmann said the idea that a charge like this being hidden from schools looking to hire is unimaginable.
“As a teacher you have a higher calling, an obligation, to make sure that kids don’t get exposed to stuff like this,” he said.
Those with the Northwood-Kensett School district said Fenske has been placed on administrative leave.