(This is the statement made by Esther Gallagher during a public meeting of the Board of Education for School District 564, Thief River Falls on Feb. 26, 2018.)
I am coming to you as Mike Biermaier’s administrative assistant for eight years now. What I am about to read, I have read to Mike and he concurred with these facts. Also, this was written on Wednesday, I know many different aspects have transpired in the last few days. But here it is as I see it. I am here to publicly present facts of the AD office as of late. I will go on record to say that I have not seen a man work so hard at his job in the last year as what Mike has done. One year ago, he came to me and said that he had been put on an improvement plan. I made a commitment to him to help him and work alongside of him for him to be able to keep his job.
We went to training, we had regular daily meetings, he had regular bi-weekly meetings with the superintendent, we revamped our office for the professional growth of our department and what we thought would insure his position as the AD here in Thief River. I took many of the things that he had been doing to free him up to be able to be out and about with coaches, advisors, students, and the general public. We even took treats to practices of all the fall sports, a treat for every kid. This was the plan for every sport and activity.
We both were committed to what we had to do and we did it. He was excited about this new process and we were making it work. We had gotten positive feedback
from many people and we both felt good about the progress. In fact, Mike initiated a survey to be sent to all coaches and advisors that would take his improvement plan one step further. I compiled those results and that survey came back with a 98 percent approval rating.
In fact, at the beginning of 2018, Mike told me that he was informed that in just a couple of months he would have accomplished and fulfilled his improvement plan. We were both excited about all of our hard work and the future of our department. It is quite ironic that the day that the Superintendent came over to talk to him, Mike told me that he thought Brad was coming to say that his improvement plan was being finalized.
INSTEAD he was told he was told that he was being “non-renewed.”
I am not aware of what benchmarks those that are in authority over Mike have
used, but no one has asked my opinion, therefore, I have never had an opportunity to tell the “boots on the ground” reality of the AD’s office.
The one factor that we overlooked in this process was that he had been threatened about a year ago by a school board member that (and I quote) “If you don’t fire this coach, you will be fired.”
In fact this threat came not only once but twice in another situation, with another coach at another time. As it played out he did not respond to the first ultimatum as he was ordered to do so. He did NOT fire that coach, but as far as the second threat, we’ll just say that that coach did “resign.” But see, one out of two was not enough and that is why we are here today.
Someone made good on their threat and their promise.
Over the course of the past couple of weeks, Mike has stated to me repeatedly, “They won’t tell me why I have to leave, they won’t tell me what I have done wrong?”
That is how he will leave this district, with open ended questions and with no answers.
So I would like to be clear on one point, this “resignation” is not of his own accord. Yes, he will resign as is his choice, but the other option was to have his contract non-renewed or, let’s face it, “be fired.” So in reality the better of the two choices for him, his career and his family is to resign. I realize at this point in time, some aspects of this have changed.
Another interesting fact is that through this whole unfair process, Mike has continued to do his job. Knowing he will not be here next year, he still has lined up all the games, matches and events for next school year as well as all of the officials for those events.
I believe that the Thief River Falls school board has just made a huge mistake and this will have repercussions for a long time to come. And yes, in the long run, it will effect the kids.
On Wednesday, a student walked into our office with tears in her eyes, handed Mike a card, gave him a hug, said, “I am so sorry” and turned around and walked out.