Holmen School Board president resigns amid controversy over fake social media account

HOLMEN, Wis. (WKBT) — Cheryl Hancock, the president of the Holmen School Board, resigned at Monday night’s meeting.

The resignation followed Hancock’s coming under fire for having a fake Facebook profile for 11 years, using it to respond to critical posts about the board and to engage online with conservative school board candidates.

Just last week, the school board voted to re-elect Hancock as president, shortly after she admitted to running the fake account.

After Monday night’s closed session, Hancock read a statement:

“As I reflected this past weekend I came to the decision that this situation had become unmanageable for me, my family, and my many friends and supporters as well as the School District of Holmen, its students, staff, and the Holmen community and have made the decision to step down from my position on the Holmen School Board effective immediately. 

I would again like to apologize for the use of a false persona, but I would ask you to read what I said and judge for yourself whether my comments were harassing or bullying. When presented with the information becoming public – I was at a crossroads – I could have denied that I was in fact Annie and because no crime had been committed there was no way to prove it otherwise. The Holmen Police Department confirmed for me that there was never any investigation into this because there was no crime –  in fact, they have destroyed the records that were sent to them back in February. Last week I made the decision to be honest and forthcoming in my mistake and ask for forgiveness. I still ask for your empathy and forgiveness. 

If we want to come together and unite maybe we should stop vilifying each other. It’s okay to have strong opinions on either side but all this name-calling is getting us nowhere.

The school district has much work to do and I am stepping aside so that they can get on with it. I am proud of what we have accomplished over the past two decades and am hoping that my overall record of accomplishments will someday be the legacy I leave and not this misstep. 

A well-respected member of the community sent this message to me recently: “A person is measured by the body of service they give and your service is hard to not appreciate at the highest level. One little misstep does not define you nor does it change my respect for our friendship.”

The school board did not elect another president into place at Monday night’s meeting.

The board’s next meeting will be Monday.

The board released this statement:

“Concerned Citizens of Holmen School District, 

 As members of the Holmen School Board, we have committed ourselves to making our school district the best place that it can possibly be. We have committed ourselves to acting in the best interest of all of the district’s children. While we have faced many challenges over the past few years, our most recent challenge involves our own School Board President, Cheryl Hancock. Ms. Hancock has admitted to using social media to interact with community members regarding community issues.

 First and foremost, we board members would like to extend a sincere apology to anyone who was impacted by these interactions on social media. Next, we would like to thank the many community members who reached out and shared with us their perspectives on these recent events. Many of you stated in your letters that our children are watching and inappropriate actions must have consequences.

 We would like to be clear that this type of behavior has no place on our school board and in our community. When board members are elected, they are required to adhere to a Board Policy on Board Ethics. Within that policy, it states that “the Board and its members will conduct themselves with integrity and high ethical principles in order to model the behaviors expected of staff and students and maintain public confidence and credibility.” We feel the intent of this policy has been violated. Therefore, I am officially notifying the Holmen School District community that as of this evening, Ms. Hancock has resigned her position of Board President and as a member of the Holmen School Board.  

Tonight, the board took the first step to rebuild the trust, integrity, confidence, and credibility that you expect of us as leaders in our community. I hope to move forward from this both as a community and as a School Board. We will work tirelessly at rebuilding relationships and bringing our community together so that the entire Holmen community can be proud of our public schools.

We want to acknowledge and thank Cheryl Hancock for her service to the district over the past 26 years. Due to her steadfast commitment to the District, we are proud of the many accomplishments under her leadership.”

Earlier Monday, Hancock also resigned from her daytime job as executive director of the Coulee Recovery Center in La Crosse, effective immediately.

She was planning to retire this summer before the controversy.

Recent News Headlines from News 8 Now

Social media helps La Crosse residents reunite lost dog with out-of-town owner

17-year-old arrested, charged in felony assault at Hillsboro High School

La Crosse homeless move back to Houska Park after Econo Lodge housing agreement expires