District: former Crandon principal demeaned women, poorly handled situation with weapons; Space calls claims 'inaccurate,' threatens lawsuitSubmitted: 03/06/2018
Ben Meyer
Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter

District: former Crandon principal demeaned women, poorly handled situation with weapons; Space calls claims 'inaccurate,' threatens lawsuit
CRANDON - The School District of Crandon claims a former principal mishandled a situation with weapons on campus, used demeaning names for female staff members, and said he couldn't improve learning because his staff was mostly women.

But that former principal, Andy Space, calls many of those accusations "inaccurate" and "not true." Space is now considering a lawsuit against the district and its administrator, Dr. Doug Kryder.

"I will not allow the District to disparage my reputation with false allegations," Space said in a statement.

Space worked at Crandon schools for nearly 30 years, most recently as middle and high school principal, but he abruptly left in late January with little public explanation. That left many students, parents, and staff confused and frustrated.

Now, documents from the district and Space are adding context to what happened.

On Saturday, Kryder gave Newswatch 12 a document dated January 20 as part of the station's open records request. The document, written by Kryder, includes four pages of evidence. The pages lay out why the district planned to dismiss Space.

Among several allegations, Kryder's letter claims Space "made statements around not being able to improve learning because there are 80% females for staff" and referred to a female staff member as "Jugs."

It also accuses Space mishandled a potentially dangerous situation.

At the Friday, Oct. 13 homecoming football game, four boys threatened a sixth grader with knives. The letter claims Space didn't properly search the boys before they left, let them come to school the following Monday, and didn't make contact with the sixth grader until Tuesday. It says Space didn't write up the incident until more than a month later.

The letter also says Space "created a mess for the district to clean up" by telling a student she was a scholarship winner, when, in fact, another student deserved the scholarship based on academic records.

"This is fundamentally wrong on legal, ethical, and logical thoughts," Kryder told Space in the letter. He also pointed out Space had a close family relationship with the runner-up student.

In a special meeting on Jan. 15, the school board voted 4-1 to give Space a preliminary notice of non-renewal, a signal it didn't want Space back next school year. Jeff Ackley Jr. was the only dissenting vote.

Space left the school 11 days later. He signed a resignation agreement on Feb. 2.

But in a statement he gave Newswatch 12 on Monday, Space refuted many of the claims against him and threatened legal action.

"Many of the allegations in this letter are inaccurate or are not true," he wrote. "My only recourse may be a lawsuit against the District and Mr. Kryder, which I am strongly considering."

Space said he didn't receive the letter detailing the claims against him until Feb. 26--more than three weeks after he signed the resignation agreement.

"Had I been furnished a copy of the letter prior to my decision to voluntarily resign, I would have never entered into the separation agreement," Space said in the statement. "[I] would have requested a public hearing to contest the false allegations and defend my reputation."

Kryder's letter with the allegations against Space also changed over time. Newswatch 12 viewed the letter given to Space by the district. It was different in some dates, details, and descriptions than the letter Kryder provided to Newswatch 12 in its open records request.

On Monday, Kryder said Newswatch 12 had the "final" draft of the letter, while Space had an earlier version.

Space's resignation agreement calls for him to be paid through June 30 and get paid an additional $45,000 for his 120 accumulated sick days.

Both Space and Kryder turned down requests for formal interviews for this story.

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