NOW:53209:USA01012
http://widgets.journalinteractive.com/cache/JIResponseCacher.ashx?duration=5&url=http%3A%2F%2Fdata.wp.myweather.net%2FeWxII%2F%3Fdata%3D*USA01012
28°
H 28° L 12°
Cloudy | 6MPH

Superintendent deals with discrimination complaint, school closing

Aug. 2, 2007

When she was a middle school principal, Deb Kerr got a 5:30 a.m. panic call from a student who forgot his wrestling uniform.

The bus was leaving at 6 a.m. for his match, so Kerr had the locker room opened and got the uniform herself.

Kerr, 50, of Antioch, Ill., has been channeling some of that get-it-done spirit as she has taken over as the new superintendent of the Brown Deer School District.

In her first month, Kerr has worked to relocate students from the closed Algonquin Elementary School, helped organize eight new modular classrooms at Dean Elementary School for those displaced students, and fielded criticism for locking down basketball hoops at Brown Deer Middle School.

She's also trying to move, get to know her staff and be available to her new community.

"This is a 24-7 job," Kerr said. "You've always got to pay attention to what's going on."

Timing not ideal

As a former award-winning basketball coach and survivor of Alaskan winters, as well as an experienced principal and school superintendent, Kerr said she is up to her new challenges.

She has previous experience with modular classrooms. Kerr needed the classrooms when she was superintendent for the Wilmot Grade School District in Kenosha County.

The new classrooms to be placed at Dean School are being shipped in nine sections and should be assembled soon.

"It's an excellent short-term solution as we begin exploring the elementary school program and a possible new building," she said.

Timing wasn't ideal for the elementary school problem - Algonquin was closed because of structural safety issues - given the recent $4.1 million referendum to renovate Brown Deer High School. That work is under way.

Kerr said the district isn't quite ready for another referendum, but one could be necessary for an elementary school.

Basketball hoops controversy

The district has faced another kind of safety issue since Kerr came on board.

District officials decided to close the basketball hoops at the middle school because of "significant police activity" there, Kerr said.

"Nobody was hurt. Nobody was killed," she said.

But there was one gunshot a couple of months ago, and someone was robbed at the hoops. Vandalism also was increasing, Kerr said.

Closing the hoops was a temporary last resort to avoid any escalation of violence, Kerr said.

"Unfortunately, it probably did not stop that kind of behavior. It probably displaced it," she said.

Kerr said she did not expect the controversy when the hoops were closed.

Village resident Henry Hamilton III filed a complaint with Office for Civil Rights against the district last week, claiming the lockdown discriminates against black children.

"They don't really teach you about that in grad school," Kerr said.

The school district is considering more lights, possible cameras and signs to deter problems at the hoops. But that won't change the situation in the short-term, and Kerr understands people's concerns.

Range of accomplishments

Closing the hoops has been a difficult decision for Kerr, who started her career in 1979 as a girls' varsity basketball coach at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools.

Kerr taught physical education for kindergarten through 12th grades at the college preparatory school. She also was the high school's athletic director.

She left that job in 1985 to move to Alaska, where she became an assistant principal, then a principal, as well as an accomplished basketball coach. There, she was twice honored as basketball coach of the year. She also was honored as assistant principal of the year.

Kerr was a middle school principal in Illinois before she came to Wisconsin to become a superintendent, first for Wilmot and then for the Trevor-Wilmot Consolidated School District.

As she transitions into Brown Deer, Kerr said one of her goals is to promote diversity within the district. She also wants to increase student achievement, possibly through the use of more technology.

She also plans to be active in the community, which should get easier once she moves from Antioch to the Racine County area.

"I'm very approachable," Kerr said. "I hope (people) feel comfortable asking me questions."

FYI

• New Brown Deer Superintendent Deb Kerr is married and has two dogs, Reba and Kesha. Reba is named for singer Reba McIntyre, whom her husband likes. Her former fifth-grade class at Wilmot Elementary School named Kesha.

• Kerr is a tri-athlete. Someday, she hopes to run a marathon.

This site uses Facebook comments to make it easier for you to contribute. If you see a comment you would like to flag for spam or abuse, click the "x" in the upper right of it. By posting, you agree to our Terms of Use.

Suburban News Roundup

E-mail Newsletter

Your link to the biggest stories in the suburbs delivered Thursday mornings.


Enter your e-mail address above and click "Sign Up Now!" to begin receiving your e-mail newsletter
Get the Newsletter!

Login or Register to manage all your newsletter preferences.

Community Watch

» Wisconsin native killed in robbery attempt on California hiking trail 02:32 PM

» Nicolet tennis court project receives rezoning approval from River Hills 11/21

» The Cheel offers a taste of Nepal in Thiensville 11/21

» Paper will be delayed by holiday 11/19

» Candidates for Lisbon post named 11/18

» Mequon teen ODs on alcohol after chugging gin with Cedarburg girls 11/18

» Rebuilt Fox Point footbridge opens 11/16

» Menasha's late score stuns Homestead in state football semifinals, 8-7 11/15

» Goldi shoe and fashion store in Shorewood to close Updated:  11/13

» Interactive North Shore school tax roundup: who's up and who's down in 2015 11/12

» Suburban roundup: Week three of the WIAA football postseason 11/10

» Bayshore neighbors bridle at falling assessments 11/8

» Stunning rally sends Homestead past Cedarburg 11/7

» Preps football photos of the week: Level 3 11/7

» Election roundup: How the Milwaukee suburbs and Lake Country voted Updated:  11/5

» Governor's race draws strong turnout on North Shore 11/5

» Enterprising eighth-grader launches his own publishing press 11/5

» Referendum passes in Glendale-River Hills district 11/4

» Poll: Which area team will win a state football title? Updated:  11/4

» Glendale housing development returns with new access road 11/3

» Shorewood passes sex offender rules 11/3

» Suburban roundup: Week two of the WIAA football postseason Updated:  11/3

» Homestead football team just a little bit better against Bay 11/1

» Falcons come close to knocking off Wisco 10/31

» Preps football photos of the week: Level 2 10/31

View All Posts Got a tip? Welcome rss

Advertisement

Deal Watch - Milwaukee

Milwaukee's Best Discounts & Deals

Advertisement

Local Business Directory

CONNECT