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Were NYM school board members meeting in secret?; Newly revealed letter raises questions about the superintendent's retirement

The New York Mills School District's search for a new superintendent came to an unsettling halt Monday night after some questions arose over the previous school board's handling of superintendent Todd Cameron's contract.

At a workshop Monday, school board members Jill Carlson and Chuck Jacobson asked current board chair, Rachel Grieger, about a letter they had just recently learned had been given to Cameron last fall.

It came to light that, last October, Cameron was given a letter telling him the district decided the third year of his contract would not be ful-filled.

Grieger initially denied knowing anything about the letter Monday. However, after Cameron retrieved the letter and showed it to the board, she offered this explanation: "The reason why we did it this way is, if it would have went full board, it would have been more public."

Grieger said the letter rep-resented "the feelings of the board," although she would only speak for herself and not the other four board members involved, who were not present on Monday.

Jacobson and Carlson, who were both on the board at the time, said they were not aware of the letter last fall.

Jacobson said he was con-cerned that the other board members had been holding serial meetings, purposely meeting without a quorum to secretly discuss public infor-mation. He was also con-cerned about any board decisions being made without the knowledge of the full board.

Grieger said she contacted the district's attorney last fall about Cameron's contract. She said the legal opinion was that the "optional" third year on the contract meant the board had the option of allowing Cameron to stay on for that year, or let him go.

In a follow-up interview after the meeting, Cameron admitted the wording on his contract was poor. However, he said the optional third year was intended to give him the choice of working full-time, part-time or split time with another district, per the instructions of the school board.

Cameron said the third year of his contract was not discussed with him last fall. Instead, he received the letter from Grieger and got the im-pression it was from the en-tire board. He then wrote a letter with his intent to retire - a year earlier than he planned.

Cameron said he realized Jacobson and Carlson were not aware of the letter when Jaconson asked him why he decided to retire.

At Jacobson's request, fur-ther discussion was tabled until the district's attorney could be present. Cameron was told to contact the attor-ney and have him come to the next public meeting.

Carlson made an appeal to the board to name a new chairperson, in light of the revelations.

"Because of issues, and communication, I would like to look at a change in the officer positions," she said.

That reorganization will be discussed at the next board meeting on Feb. 25 at 6 p.m.

For now, it's up in the air whether Cameron, who an-nounced his retirement in October, will stay on for another year or the search for a new superintendent will continue. The board had previously advertised for the position and had narrowed down a list of candidates from 15 to five.