Germantown kindergarten teacher accused of political vandalism identified
By M.D. Kittle | Wisconsin Reporter
MADISON, Wis – Wisconsin Reporter has learned the identity of the suspect accused of politically motivated disorderly conduct at last month’s Jefferson County Fair.
April Kay Smith, 38, a kindergarten teacher in the Germantown School District, was issued a disorderly conduct citation for tearing up and stomping on several signs on July 10 at the Jefferson County Republican Party booth after the fair had shut down for the night, according to a Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department report obtained by Wisconsin Reporter.
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.
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 that 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.
“… (April 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 deputy wrote in the incident report.
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.
The Sheriff’s Department, as of Monday morning, had yet to release details of the incident to Wisconsin Reporter, nearly two weeks after the agency’s chief deputy said it is department policy not to make public identifying information of suspects in police reports.
That policy, in effect for more than a year, apparently is driven by a 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decision declaring that Palatine, Ill., police were wrong in placing a parking ticket on the windshield of a vehicle, that doing so violated the driver’s personal information.
The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, or WILL, a Milwaukee-based public interest law firm, sent the county a letter advising that the Sheriff’s Department interpretation of the court decision is overly broad and the agency could risk a lawsuit if it continues to keep basic information from the public.
“There has been no case where an open records request was filled and wound up making liable the people who filled it,” Tom Kamenick, WILL’s associate counsel, told Wisconsin Reporter last month.
He pointed to an open records case earlier this year in which a St. Croix County judge ruled in favor of the New Richmond News in an open records lawsuit against the city of New Richmond.
The city, like Jefferson County, contended basic information, including names, addresses and other identifiers in traffic and criminal cases had to be redacted from public records.
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.
“(Smith) did appear to have glassy and bloodshot eyes and slurred speech,” the deputy stated in her report.
The report states that Smith tested .06 in a preliminary breath test, under the legal limit of intoxication.
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.”
Larson told Andrew Smith that she could issue him a citation for obstructing an officer, but she would let the matter go at a warning.
The deputy then asked April Smith to “pick up the signs and together we placed them in a neat file.”
Smith is scheduled to appear in court at 9 a.m., Aug. 19, according to the incident report.
She could not be reached for comment Monday morning.
Stillman told Wisconsin Reporter that she has pressed for the suspect’s identity because she is concerned that someone who seems to be carrying so much anger and partisan aggression would be teaching children.
The Germantown kindergarten website boasts this mantra: “Empower and Inspire Every Student to Success.”
An official from the Germantown School District told Wisconsin Reporter early Monday that the district will be conducting an internal investigation into the matter and will release a statement at a later time.