Cost per student Mercer $25,097,
Wis. $13,505, Nation $11,762
ACT comp. score Mercer 17.0,
Wis. 19.6, Lakeland UHS 20.0,
Hurley 18.7; perfect score 36.0
Mercer DPI Report Card score
lowest of all 421 Wis. districts

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Another DPI Investigation

A Mercer teacher has surrendered her teaching license in what may have been affected by an investigation into test administration and scoring by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.


Information posted Monday on the DPI’s Educator Licensing website shows that Mercer history teacher Deborah Hohner surrendered her teaching license on September 11.  She resigned from her position at the school on September 6.  This followed a September 4 closed session of the Mercer School Board which had on its agenda several items apparently related to the investigation.  (See MSF 9/9/!9 The Tip of the Iceberg)


The public posting of Hohner surrendering her license does not include information linking her directly to the investigation.  However, an earlier listing on the DPI website showed that her “license status” was “under investigation”.


The DPI had confirmed on several earlier occasions that it was investigating the Mercer School for “test administration and scoring.”  This latest development does not indicate if the DPI has concluded its investigation or the names of persons who may be involved. 


Investigating irregularities at the Mercer School has kept the DPI busy.  It had earlier found that $185,465 of Community Services Fund 80 money had been misused.  That claim was settled with the school paying the DPI $124,515, plus costing about $37,000 in attorney fees.


Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction

Educator Licensing Online

Entity Number: 67974

Last Background Check Submitted:


License Type:
T001 - Teacher
Lifetime License
License Number:
Original License Date:
Most Recent Application/Payment Received:
Valid From:
Expires On:
License Status:
Voluntary Surrender as of 09/11/2019
Renewal Guidelines:
Valid w/ Employment & Background Check
Pending Renewal/Extension:

Its purpose is to report news and information – facts – about Mercer School Board and Administration issues and overall school academic performance.  It is intended to keep Mercer citizens aware of the management and inner workings of the school.  It is not a school newspaper; therefore, it will not report school sports events or individual student or teacher activities/accomplishments.  MSF pledges that all news reports will be thoroughly researched and supported by school, state and Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction documentation.


  1. Hopefully Deb will step forward and point a finger at those who obviously coaxed her into any wrong doings regarding testing.

    1. Agree with your last sentence. Also, what kind of pressure the teachers as a whole are put under at mercer. Their job or salary schedule is based on the success of a test. No wonder they feel like cheating all the time. Being a teacher at mercer is like being a bears fan.

  2. How in the world does a teacher resign and turn in their license to help out a few kids on a State standardized test? If that’s really why she resigned. Something is really fishy going on. If she did help cheat, she should of been fired along with anyone else who did. Such a disgrace.

  3. As usual another black eye for Mercer school, at no fault of the students. I guarantee that this will make several newspaper's and probably the TV news. It would be amazing to me that this kind of cheating was going on without someone in the administration having knowledge of it. I also am not surprised that with the mostly new school board and Bob Davis, who was going to bring change and transparency, there has not been one word mentioned of any of this so the parents and families of the kids going there can see how the school is going to fix it.

  4. Did changing these test scores affect any of the rankings as far as the students being the valedictorian of their class?? And if that is the cases do the students who should have been given that honor get it after the fact as well as some of the scholarship money they didn't receive??

  5. Of course it affected the outcome, the low ACT SCORES speak for themselves. Students have witnessed cheating on a daily basis Not just on state tests especially in the "resource room"! Many of those students who witnessed the cheating r now adults and I'm sure they would b willing to make a statement if the school board or the DPI actually cared and would investigate more thoroughly. They also need to investigate the apparent over payments to administration, calculations based on school docs show Torkelson getting over payments exceeding $80,000 (that's conservative) including 5 years of bonuses ( where's the board minutes approving those bonuses??). Cheating, lying and possible theft, GREAT SCHOOL!! Hey District Attorney Tingstad, u got a new Judge hows about u try filing some charges again and clean up this school!?