Community members are trying to recall two members of the Parshall School Board because they say they aren’t taking care of problems at the school or acting professionally.
Recall petitions have been submitted to the school business manager to recall Michelle Billadeau, rural at-large representative, and Jay Clauson, north side city of Parshall representative. Billadeau is the president of the school board and has been on the board for eight years. Clauson has been a member for one year.
The school has 30 days from submittal to review the signatures for validity. If they are found to be valid, a recall election must be held 95 to 105 days later. An elected official who is being recalled will be listed on a ballot in a recall election, along with anyone else who files to run.
Lori Brugh is leading the charge to replace the board members. Her daughter and two nieces for whom she is a foster parent are students at Parshall High School.
“I don’t believe that our school board is acting in our kids’ best interests,” she said.
Billadeau did not respond to a message left seeking comment on Friday. On Monday, her mailbox was full and could not accept new messages. Clauson said he was not in a position to talk on Friday.
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Brugh cited falling test scores and the handling of sexual harassment allegations against a teacher as her reasons for the recall. She doesn’t believe the school board is doing enough to address issues and believes they aren’t giving the community opportunities to air problems.
The website Great Schools gave Parshall its lowest ranking, a one, for both its high school and elementary school. The site lists scores on the North Dakota State Assessment as part of its reasoning for the low ranking.
Parshall’s Adequate Yearly Progress reports on the DPI website show results on the North Dakota State Assessment dropping annually in recent years. In 2013-2014, 40.48 percent of 11th graders were considered proficient in reading, and 35 percent were considered proficient in math.
Ruth Zacher, a member of the recall committee, said the committee members are not close to each other and all have different reasons for supporting the recall. She said falling academic achievement and the well being of students are her primary reasons.
Zacher used to teach at the school and her three children graduated there. Though the Department of Public Instruction lists moderately high graduation rates for recent classes, Zacher doesn’t believe the data is accurate. She has been compiling her own data on student performance and graduation.
A photo of this year’s senior class as eighth-graders showed 26 students, and 24 students were listed as freshmen in the yearbook the next year. At the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year, there were 23 students on the “locker list,” Zacher said. The school listed only 10 as planning to participate in graduation ceremonies in May.
Dale Wetzel, public information specialist for DPI, said graduation rates for the class of 2016 will not be compiled and posted until January 2017.
Tony Iverson’s daughter was among the seniors who did not graduate this year. Iverson, who is not on the recall committee, said he always was told she was doing fine in school. But earlier this year, he was informed she was not on track to graduate.
The letter came later than is laid out in school policy for such letters to be delivered, Iverson said.
Iverson said the school board didn’t allow his daughter and several other students who were short on credits to walk at graduation, even though such requests have been granted in the past. His daughter is finishing online classes and will get her diploma in August, he said.
Iverson wants to see changes at Parshall, even though his daughter is done there.
“I don’t want to see other kids like my daughter got hurt. They could have told me, hey, she’s not going to graduate,” he said.
Brugh says she has a big problem with the way the school board handled sexual harassment allegations against business teacher Kevin Turner. Turner in March had been placed on unpaid leave following sexual harassment allegations, and the board in May decided to accept his resignation rather than continue with efforts to fire him.
While Brugh and others were concerned that move would allow Turner to get another teaching job, the North Dakota Education Standards and Practices has an open case on the matter.
Janet Welk, executive director of the North Dakota Education Standards and Practices Board, said the school did contact the board in regard to the allegations against Turner. Turner has 20 days to provide a written explanation to the board. Welk said the board does not meet in July, so the matter will be handled at its August meeting.
Reach Jenny Schlecht at 701-595-0425 or email@example.com.