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BEA Board hires investigator

Several speak at meeting in support of school, staff

February 18, 2018
Robert Brewer - Register Staff Writer , Faribault County Register

In light of the recent incident involving multiple high school athletes on the Blue Earth Area football team, the Blue Earth Area School Board decided to enter into an agreement with a third-party consultant.

On Feb. 12, at BEA's regular School Board meeting, a motion was passed to hire attorney and investigator Michelle Soldo, of Soldo Consulting. The investigation will review whether or not the district's actions in the aftermath of the assault case allegedly involving BEA students Wyatt Tungland, Dalton Nagel, Blake Barnett, and Caden Ochsendorf, were in compliance with the Minnesota State High School League.

The district's actions from Nov. 6 to Dec. 8, 2017 will be examined by Soldo. School Board member Sara Hauskins endorsed the decision to hire a third-party investigator.

"I feel like we are doing it for the school, for our administrators and for our staff," Hauskins said. "We want to show the public that everything is okay here at our district."

While no timetable was set to begin the investigation, superintendent Evan Gough expressed optimism in moving forward with Soldo.

"I think the advice we've heard from others that have worked with her is that she's very efficient and gets through things quickly," Gough added.

Also at the meeting, a total of seven speakers chose to address the School Board on the controversial topic. Some members of the public expressed a favorable opinion of the school.

In particular, Blue Earth Area technology integration specialist Gary Holmseth spoke highly of BEA athletic director, Rob Norman.

Despite the circumstances involving members of the football team, Holmseth praised Norman's professionalism and believes the Blue Earth Area athletic director has helped to build a positive environment for student-athletes.

"Rob Norman makes coaches feel like their jobs are very important," Holmseth said. "He is very organized and he treats girls and boys sports equally. As a high school referee, I've witnessed very few schools that measure up to the professional atmosphere that Rob creates."

Accountability was also key, a theme discussed by concerned citizens. Duane Ehrich believes a stronger family structure may prevent bullying at school.

"Why is the school responsible for the upbringing of these kids," Ehrich asked at the meeting. "It should be more of the parents' responsibility to teach them right from wrong."

Other action items from the meeting included:

The board designated February as "Kindness Month."

School superintendent Evan Gough and School Board member Frankie Bly were approved as Minnesota State High School League representatives.

Audio recordings of all School Board meetings were authorized.

The hirings of Little Giants teacher Tabatha Dahl, high school custodian Jeremy Frank, and maintenance specialist Ryan McGuire were accepted by the board.

The resignations of maintenance specialist Ryan Northwick, evening custodian Jonathan Loefke, Little Giants classroom assistant Connie Clay and cook's helper Colleen Cleppe were also accepted.

A motion was passed to begin negotiations with non-certified union staff.

Lane changes for teachers Jennie Esser, Chelsea Thayer, Colby Swanson, Erin Mikels and Lindsey Johnson were approved by the School Board.



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