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No changes made to NYM School Board seats

As of Monday night's New York Mills School Board meeting, longtime board member Rachel Grieger was still chairperson despite repeated attempts by other board members to discuss reorganization.

In three separate meetings -- a workshop Feb. 11, a special meeting Feb. 20 and a regular school board meeting held Monday night -- various board members voiced concerns over lack of communication and trust should Grieger remain chair.

These concerns are directly linked to an incident last October that was only recently learned of by the board, in which Grieger gave a document to Superintendent Todd Cameron regarding his retirement, without full board knowledge. Grieger last week admitted to -- and apologized for -- writing and giving the document to Cameron, which led him to submit a letter of retirement earlier than he originally planned.

On Feb. 11, board member Jill Carlson requested that reorganization of officers be added to the next meeting's agenda so the board could discuss and possibly take a vote on the matter.

Then on the Feb. 20 special meeting, discussion did ensue about keeping Grieger as chair, but no action was taken.

At that meeting Carlson said, "We felt like decisions were being made without the whole team involved."

There has been a "lack of teamwork from the time the new members were added to the board...We all have to work together and we have to be equals," Carlson said.

Grieger defended herself, along with her experience and history as a board member. She and Chuck Jacobson have both been on the board the longest, with 18 and 16 years, respectively. Carlson has been on the board for two years, while the rest of the members were newly voted in this year.

"I have been on the board for over 20 years and (the January meeting was) the second board meeting I have missed in all those years," Grieger said. "In general I am very prepared for the meeting."

When asked, she said she would like to continue as chair: "The reason being is at the present time Mr. Jacobson has already admitted sometimes he has a very busy schedule, especially in the spring and fall with his job. It makes it hard for him to attend meetings.

"I believe at this point, even though I know Mrs. Carlson very well, and she is a very intelligent woman," she hasn't had the "history" of being on the school board.

History aside, board member Julie Adams said the letter incident concerns her.

Grieger said the incident was the first time something like that had ever happened, and it shouldn't erase her history of being on the board.

When asked why some of the new member's questions were not being addressed, Grieger replied that she will try to do better, but added, "I do think communication does go both ways. I do respect board members. I would like to feel that all of us could communicate together."

Though Grieger agreed they had a "rocky start," she said moving forward she felt like she had a strong "knowledge base" to help the new board learn.

After that meeting was closed without any action taken, the reorganization was brought forth again at Monday night's school board meeting.

Jacobson made a motion to add reorganization discussion and an optional vote to the agenda. However, Grieger strongly advised the board not to approve that adjustment. She said she had heard this might happen before the meeting and sought advice from her personal lawyer. She said she had a legal opinion that a sufficient change to the agenda would go against open meeting laws.

All changes to the agenda must be pertinent to the meeting, and not a sufficient change, she said. She felt like the reorganization motion wasn't pertinent to the meeting, and would be considered a sufficient change.

Superintendent Todd Cameron disagreed. He said he talked to a representative on the Minnesota School Board Association prior to the meeting and was told it would be completely legal for the board to make that adjustment to the agenda.

After about five minutes of discussion, Jacobson took back his motion and the matter was not discussed further.

For now, Grieger will remain chairperson. However, board members can choose to add this issue to an agenda for a later meeting, prior to the posting of the agenda.