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Menahga superintendent receives contract renewal amid allegations

By nick longworth

Amid accusations from Menahga School Board members Jon Kangas and Al Peterson that she violated the Data Practices Act, Superintendent Mary Klamm received a three-year contract extension with the Menahga School District on Monday, March 24.

A motion set forth to extend Klamm’s contract for another three years - beginning July 1, 2014 - was requested by Kangas to be amended as a non-renewal until further discussion could be had in order to try and find a resolution of the current allegations being made against her.

His motion for further discussion before signing Klamm to another three years failed by a vote of 4-2, with Kangas and Peterson being the only school board members voting in favor.

“Is there some level of urgency saying that this needs to be done? You’re asking for a motion to approve a new contract, without ever having discussion in a committee or to this board,” said Al Peterson.

“This is amid a certain amount of turmoil regarding the Data Practices Act and Open Meeting Law. I think how this school’s business, especially over the last nine months, has been handled should play a role in whether or not we consider a renewal of the superintendent’s contract. I recommend we table this until we let some of these answers play out before we commit to any additional contracts,” Peterson said.

Both Peterson and Kangas expressed great concern about the procedure at hand prior to the vote being held.

“What you’re attempting to do here is bypass the committee. I would like further clarification as to why you don’t feel this is an effort to circumvent the committee structure. There are multiple problems here,” Kangas said.

Discussion became heated at times, with Klamm at one point asking, “Am I on trial?”

Other members of the school board saw the situation differently.

“There are certain people on the board that want to misuse the situation to annihilate the superintendent,” said Curtis Hasbargen.

“We need to tell (Klamm) tonight whether or not we are going to retain her, or let her go so she can have enough time to look around at other positions. You’re having a moot discussion point here,” said Ernest Huhta Jr.

Huhta, Durwin Tomperi, Curtis Hasbargen and Brad Goehrig outvoted Peterson and Kangas on the extension.

“One last point, Jon and Al I want to tell both of you two publicly that neither one of you guys understand what you have done for Mary. I believe in the last six months to a year, Mary is a far better superintendent because of you two. What you don’t realize is that people rise under adversity, and Mary’s ability as a superintendent has been positively impacted by how you two conduct yourselves. Without the kind of adversity that you two create, I don’t know if she could have risen to that occasion,” Huhta said.

In other news, the school board:

n Heard a proposed motion by Al Peterson. Peterson said, “I move that this board make every reasonable attempt to follow the Data Practices Act, as well as meet to discuss a possible resolution to the alleged Data Practices Act violation, address the media requests for data, and conduct a review of the district’s level of compliance on data retention requirements, including but not limited to a determination of how many audio recordings are missing.

The motion was denied by a 4-2 vote, with Peterson and Kangas voting in favor.

n Michelle Koch gave an update on behalf of the Elementary Student Council who are in the middle of their “sick of winter” week of events right now.

n Student Bailey Yliniemi spoke about her efforts to raise money for prisoners of war/missing in action through the BentStar program. She is selling shirts she designed for the cause, already raising $600.

n Reviewed an architect drawing about possible expansion plans that could be used for additional office space and a choir/band room.

n Recognized and accepted donations of $2,000 for dugouts and $600 to UNC wrestling nationals. Both were given by the Gateway Lions organization.

Nick Longworth
A graduate from St. Cloud State University, Nick photographs and writes a variety of stories for nearly every section of The Park Rapids Enterprise. His duties also include section layouts and online content submission.
(218) 732-3364