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Q&A with Sioux City school board candidate Chad Krastel

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SIOUX CITY -- Chad Krastel, a project manager and estimator for construction companies,  is seeking his first term on the Sioux City Community School District Board of Directors.

Krastel, 33, originally from La Quinta, California, has four daughters in the Sioux City schools.

He has been outspoken at school board meetings in recent years after saying his 4-year-old daughter was assaulted by a 6-year-old girl at the Beyond the Bell program at Leeds Elementary school in 2020. Krastel frequently criticized the district’s handling of the incident. The state and federal Departments of Education launched investigations into the incident.

In July, the family and the district reached a legal settlement.

The Journal asked a series of questions to the nine candidates seeking three open seats on the school board. Below are Krastel's answers to the questions selected for the Journal's print edition. To view additional questions and answers for all the candidates, visit siouxcityjournal.com

Why are you running for school board?

In November 2019, my then-4-year-old was sexually assaulted in the bathroom of Leeds Elementary School during Beyond the Bell after-school program. After already having this same daughter lost by Beyond the Bell, it appeared to be a habitual lack of supervision. The district refused to investigate the sexual assault claiming that they were not required to because Beyond the Bell is not a school program. We argue it is. We choose to move schools in the hopes that it would make things better, but by this time, we had the Iowa Department of Education appeal, and investigations starting with the US Department of Education and the Iowa Civil Rights Commission. Because of this, we began receiving retaliation.

They refused to allow my wife to be the handler of our disabled daughter's service dog and blamed it on their visitor’s policy and COVID-19 restrictions implemented by the district... They then left our disabled daughter at the top of the stairs knowing of her brittle bones due to her ultra-rare genetic disorder called McCune Albright Syndrome. She has a more severe version where she has bone tumors throughout her skeletal system. Had she fallen, it would likely be terminal. The list goes on as to the extremes we had to face, and as our story got more and more attention, the more parents, teachers, and administrators past and present, told us their stories. It appears to be part of the culture and repetitive history of the Sioux City schools. To change this and help fight for those who can’t fight for themselves, I have chosen to run for the School Board of Directors. 

What are some of the strengths of the district? What are some of the weaknesses?

The teachers are the biggest strength of the district. In every circumstance, we have absolutely loved the teachers. It is clear the teachers in this district not only care for the children, but they also take an individual interest in each one which is rare especially this widespread throughout the district.

Weaknesses would have to be the administration. It is my belief that the district's administration has fostered a culture of fear and reprisals against anyone who stands up for their children, or what they believe is right. This bullying technique is why I believe there is such a widespread Bullying Issue in the district. The children are intelligent and see the example left before them. When you are such a bad example when it comes to how you treat the children, parents, teachers, and lower administration, the children learn from it. If you want to make the district better, you need to be better as an example. This desperately needs to change.

What are the main points you hope to address?

The bullying crisis within the district with both students and the administration, wasteful spending within the district, the snacks meant for the children such as raw onions, jalapeno peppers, raw beets, etc., which is not nutritious if not eaten and a waste of funds, and the handling of our most vulnerable children.

What particular skills or experiences qualify you to serve as a school board member?

I have been in many leadership roles surrounding construction. From senior construction manager to territory manager of special projects with Tesla Energy, I have both developed and led teams and projects with a variety of challenges. I have managed large budgets up to $30 million while saving $12 million in the process. I served in the Army and volunteered at orphanages while overseas. All of these experiences have helped me develop unique skills and abilities which would allow me to better help the district.

What do you see as the board’s roles and responsibilities?

To govern over the school district collectively through policy, and leading the superintendent in the direction collectively we determine. This includes evaluations, and if needed, selecting the superintendent. The board members have a responsibility to the taxpayers to ensure the children are properly taught, are safe, and help the vulnerable get the education they have a right to.

What do you think of the current board and how conflict is handled?

The current board is weak and doesn’t do their own homework for the most part. I see often the members do not even know what the policies they are voting for actually contain. I think they give too many liberties to the superintendent that should belong to the board. I also think that they are more concerned with looking bad, rather than helping fix the issues. Luckily, all four seats that are the biggest problems, in my view, are the ones up for election this year.

How can schools address the learning needs of diverse students?

Diversity is what makes this country the envy of the world. We need to embrace our differences and work with the parents, and local partners to ensure we give the best education to every student. Depending on the diverse needs, we would have to shape the approach.

How do you plan to communicate with teachers/parents/community members/students?

I believe in an open-door policy when it comes to teachers but also the need to follow policy and processes. There is leadership in place for a reason, and processes in place to help facilitate that need. But I would always encourage communication whether it be criticism or suggestions. I would also proactively communicate especially if a policy or issue I think needs input from the teachers, staff, or others who may have knowledge I don’t have.

What roles, if any, should the district assume for dealing with such societal problems as poverty, hunger, mental health issues or drug abuse?

We should work with local partners and governance to combat these issues and if they affect the students, bring in the appropriate agencies to address them. We need to keep the children safe and find better ways to address these issues. We need to address the funds and how they are spending so we can better fund hunger and other social issues without the need to raise taxes. If we are smarter with the money, it goes a lot farther. 

What do you see as the current challenges facing public education in our state? In our country?

I think the biggest issues we face are nationwide. We are creating a culture of fear that is unnecessary. I also believe we are doing a disservice to the next generation by pitting people against each other. Progress happens when ideas are heard, even if they sound crazy at times. But that is what the founding fathers wanted. Freedom to express our views and the ability to express them directly to our government. Not yell and scream because someone thinks differently. This has also spilled into our school districts.

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