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Nevis school board will review vehicle use policy

Nevis superintendent Steve Rassier's personal use of a school vehicle continues to stir controversy, former superintendent Dick Magaard arriving at this week's school board meeting to take exception to a letter to the editor written by board chair Ed Becker.

The letter, which appeared in the Northwoods Press, states there was a change in statute prohibiting the use of personal vehicles in 1993. "Unfortunately, our policy has not been in compliance through several boards and administrations for the past 17 years," Becker wrote.

"We have acknowledged and apologized for bad policy more than once," Becker stated of remarks made at meetings.

But Magaard, who admitted it "seems to be a little strange to be on this side of the table," said staff and students spent hundreds of hours developing policy.

"To hear it's not effective policy after all that hard work lit me up a little bit," said Magaard, who served as Nevis School superintendent from 1989-2003.

The master policy, he said, "takes you anywhere you want to go. The wording is very clear in the transportation policy on what you can and cannot do.

"You use the word 'bad policy' more than once." But, Magaard said, "the necessary wording was there, and it's been there for a long time.

"The image that's being left out there is the past administration and board didn't do a very good job. I think we took these jobs very seriously when we sat down every year and went through these things, word for word. We had a lot of committee meetings and a lot of studying time went into them," he said, noting board members Gary Stennes and Marv Vredenburg as well as former Nevis bookkeeper Betsy Anderson had participated.

"To hear it being criticized reflects on me and on us. I didn't appreciate it," Magaard said.

Becker apologized. "There was certainly no direct attack intended." He indicated a number of individual policies and the master policy "need clarity," and "the intent is to go back" to them for review.

"I don't want to see our work destroyed," Magaard said.

Anderson and her son, Jon Hoffman, attended the meeting. Hoffman, at this point apologizing that the issue "has turned out this way. That's why I'm here."

(Anderson, who was placed on leave after Hoffman made the issue public, subsequently agreed to resign as the district bookkeeper.)

"Jon, I don't believe for a second you're sorry it turned out that way," Becker said. "Do we wish we could have that moment back? Yes."

"All I tried to do was report to the board my complaint," Hoffman said. "Last week I got a call from the sheriff stating the school has harassment issues against me. I met with legal counsel today. I haven't done anything illegal."

"Well, we'll have to take that under advisement," Becker said.

"No one had used a school vehicle for personal use in the past," Anderson told the board.

"This was not an exclusive, isolated incident," Becker said. "The school needs to correct it immediately."