(This is the statement of Darcy Reese made during a public meeting of the Board of Education for School District 564, Thief River Falls, on Feb. 26, 2018.)
Good evening ladies and gentlemen, school board members, superintendent Bergstrom and media. I am here tonight not as a choir teacher that is asking permission to take her students on a musical adventure like I do every other year, but as a very concerned tax paying citizen of Thief River Falls and as an employee of school district #564 where each of you were elected by the citizens of Thief River Falls to carefully, respectfully, and openly govern the Board of Education.
I have taught vocal music in this school district for 31 years and I have had, and hope to continue to have, a valued working relationship with the #564 School Board. The Board of Education, in my book, should be elected officials that have the students best interest at hand, should govern fairly, honestly, and openly when dealing with issues of budgets, interpreting rules, and hiring and firing of District #564 employees.
It was brought to my attention last Tuesday, February 20th, that the fair, honest, and open part of your governing had been tarnished. You may disagree but I believe that it is the consensus of my fellow educators, coaches, and athletic department secretary that are amongst us tonight, that the tarnished reputation of the school board holds true. We are very upset with the cruel and unusual way, and for me after 31 years of working in THIS district …very unsual way of working with and misguiding our Athletic Director. I heard of
small groups deciding full board items, I heard of asking our AD to meet specific benchmarks for improvement … which he did … only to find out that the tremendous improvement didn’t mean anything. I even heard that threats were made if he didn’t resign from his position.
People within our community were asking questions, students were asking questions, we as advisors and coaches were asking questions. Things just didn’t add up. Why hadn’t ANY of the coaches, advisors, or secretaries been asked what it is like working for our AD or had any of us seen improvements during and after his improvement plan had been implemented … an improvement plan which he has been on for a year and a half and just recently made all his benchmark goals on. WE ARE THE PEOPLE HE WORKS WITH WHICH ULTIMATELY TRANSFERS TO OUR STUDENTS. Why didn’t our opinions matter? I’ve been in education in this district longer than any of you and nobody asked me how my working relationship was with Mike or was he doing his best to ensure that my choir program was just as important and viable as any other activity or athletic program in our district. Are the actions that I speak about, and you WILL hear more once his secretary speaks, are they board driven or parent driven?
I have never seen such intentional harassment placed upon an employee of #564 … and then we as educators and coaches are supposed to watch for bullying amongst our students? The educator in me said … whoa … something is very broken with our system and I need to get
I have always looked out for kids that were being bullied all the way down to MY days as a 3rd grader in Greenbush and when I heard of all of this foolishness happening with our AD … the look out for the bullies and stand up for the victim took over me once again. I am very disappointed in the board that sits in front of me and I NEVER thought I could feel that way about this board.
You need to fix what is broken.