by David Hill
School District staff and coaches filled the boardroom of the Board of Education 564, Thief River Falls, Monday, Feb. 26, and expressed their disappointment with how the Board of Education handled a situation involving Activities Director Mike Biermaier. Last Thursday, Biermaier shared with coaches and advisors his decision to resign.
(Monday’s meeting included only the comments of coaches and advisors. Members of the Board of Education didn’t take any action or respond to the concerns expressed at the meeting because the comments addressed personnel data subject to Minnesota’s Data Practices Act.)
At the meeting, it was stated that a member of the Board of Education told Biermaier he needed to either fire the swim coach, Danielle Spiten, or he would be fired. It was also stated that he was also ordered to fire another unnamed coach by a member of the Board.
Statements at the meeting revealed that Biermaier has been on an improvement plan for a year and a half. According to staff who spoke Monday night, Biermaier was clearly meeting the benchmarks established in the improvement plan. The reason for that improvement plan was not discussed or brought up Monday night.
Darcy Reese, choir director, told the Board of Education that the fair, honest and open part of their governing had been tarnished by their actions. She added, she was upset that a small group was making decisions for the entire board.
Reese and several others, including Esther Gallagher, assistant to Biermaier, Katie Hahn, band director, Ross Dalzell, citizen, and Scott Bergland, coach, challenged the handling of the matter and questioned the process.
Reese specifically wanted to know why those who worked with Biermaier had not been asked what it is like working for him or whether they had seen any improvements.
Bergland said he was displeased with the entire process and procedure in place and that it “pissed him off” how they were treating people. He said they had destroyed a lot of things people had worked hard to create. He stated that he was not blaming anyone, but blaming everyone.
Following the meeting Monday night, Superintendent Brad Bergstrom said he was glad the coaches and advisors presented their concerns at the meeting rather than resorting to commenting on social media. He said the issue, as he sees it, is the process.
During the meeting, it was mentioned that Biermaier had been offered a contract for next year. Bergstrom said he could not confirm or deny that statement because it was a personnel matter.
No action was taken by the Board of Education.
More details of this meeting, including statements from some of the individuals offering statements at the meeting, will appear in the next edition of The Times or on the Thief River Falls Times website.