From: Taylor Peterson
Holding true to what I said I was going to do as an elected school board member, Iím writing this letter to let the people of the district know what is going on since I last wrote. My last letter caused quite a stir among board members, the superintendent, and a few hand-picked community members because of my use of the word ďdeceive.Ē They did not understand how what they had done was deceiving, and are probably still trying to figure it out.
But recently, a situation has popped up that concerns me even more.
Our superintendentís contract expired on June 30. After that date, his employment was to cease, according to his contract. Well, it didnít. The previous board should have been working on a new contract in the year leading up to the end of his final contract date, but they failed to do that. I had emailed chairperson Colbenson a few days after June 30 to see that the superintendent had turned in any school property he may have had, such as keys to the facilities, and to see if he had cleaned his office and been removed from bank accounts. Chairperson Colbenson responded that he had not. I then asked why not, as his contract had ended and his employment was over. Chairperson Colbenson responded that the district needed to have a superintendent in accordance with M.S. 123B.143, Subdivision 1, and that she had directed the expired superintendent to keep working with NO contract and without board knowledge or approval, after consulting the schoolís attorney. This raised red flags and convinced me to contact the Minnesota School Boards Association. In Minnesota, any district operating a secondary school must have a superintendent (not required to be full-time) so chairperson Colbenson was right about that, but thatís all she was right about. No board member may decide whether or not a superintendent should keep working without a contract.
By chairperson Colbenson individually directing the expired superintendent to keep working without a contract, she has entered the entire board and expired superintendent into an ďimplied contract.Ē This means that the expired superintendent, no matter the outcome decided by the board as to renewing, extending or terminating his employment for good, has free rein over the school and has the board members right where he wants them. He will either be hired as an interim superintendent until a replacement can be found, or he gets a new contract and most likely back pay to July 1st.
As of right now, the R-P School District has a superintendent, with no contract, who has unfettered access to the facilities, financials and employee information. If thatís not troubling to you, I donít know what is.