My Northern Wisconsin

Covering Ashland, Iron, Lincoln, Oneida, Price, Rusk, Sawyer, Taylor, and Vilas Counties


The school board members and superintendent in attendance were:  Evan Lund, Hailey Halmstad, Joe Van de Voort, Marty Krog, Jon Pesko, Superintendent Rick Morgan, Becky Denzine, Britt Bilgrien, and Meredith Hueckman.  Board Member Kevin Rose was absent.
Photo:  My Price County / School District of Phillips





There was a meeting of the Phillips School Board on Monday, April 24, 2023.  Some community members, hearing about the band teacher, Justin Lindgren, potentially losing his job due to a comment he made, have asked why the community was not notified.  The school board does post their agendas, which is how the public is notified by the school.  My Price County also wrote an article before the meeting, which can be read here(Send your e-mail address to with "Subscribe" in the subject line to get our free News Highlights e-mail once or twice per month.  We never share your e-mail address.)  During the meeting, the microphone and audio that records the meeting was not working.  Once the meeting was almost over, before going into closed session, Bill McCormick, the Director of IT services, let Board Member Marty Krog know the audio was not working.  Some community members felt this was deliberate.  However, a school board member said that someone was working on the audio and could not get it to work.

A number of community members wore red to the meeting to show their support for Justin.  Some in attendance spoke on behalf of Justin during public comment.  With a union rep in attendance, Justin spoke asking that the resignation he submitted be rescinded if the school board would renew his contract.  He also highlighted his number of years working at the school and the positive things he did for students and the district as a band teacher.

After other business was taken care of on the agenda, the school board went into closed session for almost an hour.  When they reconvened, they discussed a few things and then closed the meeting.  Donna Calhoun, who spoke in support of Justin and is passionate with support for him, asked what was decided about him in closed session.  As the board members were getting their coats and gathering their belongings, she was told that Mr. Lindgren's resignation was accepted and the matter was over.  Justin, emotional, left the Performing Arts Center at that time.

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My Price County / My Northern Wisconsin talked with Justin asking if he would be willing to give the community further information to clear the rumors.  We asked Justin if he knew why administration asked him to resign.  He stated, "The piece that administration was hanging on to is that when a group of middle school kids came barging into the room during LT [Logger Time, which is a study hall/homeroom setting], I grunted and said something to the effect of 'I'm going to kill you guys' before launching into a lecture about maturity, respect, and thinking about their actions."  It appears that a student told a staff member who told the principal, and things unfolded from there.  According to Justin, no other reason has been given to him, but the school requested that he resign.  If he did so, he would be allowed to finish out the school year.  My Price County reached out to Superintendent Rick Morgan, but he stated he cannot comment on personnel issues, so we do not know what administration is saying Justin did wrong.

Members of the community have stated that students and staff feel Mr. Lindgren made a statement that was minor and should not cause him to lose his job.  According to these community members, who mostly wish to remain anonymous, some staff members wanted to support Justin but felt it might affect their jobs.  Students stated they were not allowed to hang posters in support of Mr. Lindgren but pointed out that SAGE (the Sexuality and Gender Equity group) can hang posters.  (As noted in our prior article, at an earlier school board meeting, one student specifically asked why SAGE can hang posters but Students Supporting Teachers cannot, which prompted some community members to also inquire about that, so we inquired with the school.)  When we asked Superintendent Rick Morgan what SAGE is and why students were not allowed to hang posters in support of teachers but they can hang SAGE posters, plus we asked if Mr. Lindgren would be able to finish teaching for the rest of this school year, Mr. Morgan replied, "I believe the framing of your questions are related to employee circumstances and feel it would be inappropriate to respond."  We followed up letting him know we did not see how those questions were related to any confidential personnel information and asked for him to reply.  At the time of this publication, which is over 48 hours from our last request to him, Mr. Morgan has not replied to those questions and has not yet given us the resignation agreement we requested on April 20, 2023, but we will update this article when he does provide additional information.

Mr. Lindgren, however, did let us know he is currently a band teacher at the School District of Phillips, and he will finish out this school year.  Donna Calhoun stated that the school district clearly does not see Justin as a threat to students if he is being allowed to finish out the school year.  Donna wants answers as to why Justin was forced to resign and why the school board would not rescind his resignation per Justin's request.  She is asking for the community's support and stated, "This fight is not over."

Donna also stated that many students did not show up for school on Tuesday, the day after the school board meeting, and at least some students who did attend school wore black protesting the acceptance of Mr. Lindgren's resignation.

Donna mentioned here is a petition asking for Mr. Lindgren's reinstatement as a teacher, which can be signed at this link.

We reached out to a few school board members but none of them wanted to publicly comment at this time.

Important - Please Read (and partially related to this article):  There has been some confusion about the two news sources in Price County that publish articles.  We are My Price County / My Northern Wisconsin, which is a digital news source established in 2012 reaching almost 12,000 households via our website, and many people via our various social media pages, including  We provide a directory of businesses, help wanted ads, events listings, coupons from businesses, free news, and also run the Phillips community-wide garage sale every June (scheduled for June 16 - 18, 2023).  Our goal is to promote our great county, its people, and its businesses.

In regard to our coverage of this story, we saw things being said on Facebook, and we had people reach out to us about this situation, so we interviewed various people including Mr. Lindgren and Mr. Morgan, trying to get both "sides" of the story.  We are an unbiased news source trying to provide free news to the community through facts and not rumors.  With every article we write, if there are multiple viewpoints, we try to get information from all viewpoints, but some people don't want to share their viewpoints publicly.  We do our best to get as much information as possible.  My Price County is the publication that is currently trying to get accurate information for the parents and community members regarding this situation.

To help us provide free news to the area, we appreciate any news tips, press releases, or information being sent to us via our contact form or  A lot of our contributors are local volunteers wanting to make a difference in our communities.  We appreciate them and any businesses who are interested in advertising to sponsor our free news, receive advertising of their business, and help with our goal of promoting Price County.

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(This post was last modified: 05-12-2023, 08:55 PM by My Northern Wisconsin.)