Dickinson Public Schools Unapproved School Board Meeting Minutes December 9, 2019; 5:00 p.
Dickinson Public Schools
Unapproved School Board Meeting Minutes
December 9, 2019; 5:00 p.m.
Professional Learning Lab
The Dickinson Public School Board held a regular meeting on December 9, 2019, at the Professional Learning Lab. Board members present: President Brent Seaks, Vice President Kim Schwartz, Board Member David Wilkie, Board Member Michelle Orton, and Board Member Jason Rodakowski. Others present were: Superintendent Shon Hocker, Assistant Superintendent Keith Harris, Director of Student Services Sheri Twist, Director of Instruction Melanie Kathrein, Business Manager Kent Anderson, Dickinson High School Principal Kevin Hoherz, Dickinson High School Assistant Principal Jay Hepperle, Dickinson High School Assistant Principal Tad Schye, Dickinson High School Assistant Principal Guy Fridley, Southwest Community High School Principal Kristy Goodall, Dickinson Middle School Principal Marcus Lewton, Dickinson Middle School Assistant Principal Shawn Leiss, Prairie Rose Elementary Principal Nicole Weiler, Prairie Rose Elementary Assistant Principal Richard Smith, Roosevelt Elementary Principal Henry Mack, Jefferson Elementary Principal Sara Streeter, Lincoln Elementary Principal Tammy Peterson, Heart River Elementary Principal Susan Cook, Berg Elementary Principal Tracy Lecoe, Dickinson High School Language Arts Instructor Naomi Thorson, Community Relations Coordinator Sarah Trustem, The Dickinson Press Reporter Kayla Henson, KFYR News Reporter Andrew Horn, School Board Secretary Twila Petersen, Mr. Darald Payne, Dr. Keith Fernsler, Mr. Danny Hood, Mr. Scott Skones, Mrs. Heather Brazelton, Dickinson High School Business Instructor Brenda Loney, Mr. Jeff Lamprecht, Dickinson High School Language Arts Instructor Leslie Wilkie, Mrs. Susan Schaefer, Mr. Scott Meschke, Mr. Josh Lehman, Dickinson High School Drafting Instructor Marjorie Lehman, Dickinson High School Social Studies Instructor Dave Michaelson, Mr. Mick Myers, Mr. Tom Dietz, and Ms. LaDella Carlson.
Call to Order - Board President Seaks called the meeting to order at 5:00 p.m.
Public Participation - There was one request for public participation from Mr. Darald Payne under the topic of "Mascot".
Board President Seaks invited Mr. Payne to address the Board. Mr. Payne stated he was not for or against the mascot. He said he wanted to state some facts. He defined the meaning of the word "Midget" as a small human being or small. He added it was not a derogatory word or demeaning. Mr. Payne said the mascot symbolizes strength and should be proud of the mascot and what it represented. He sees much pride in the mascot and said it has been around for a long time.
Mr. Payne said he has lived in Dickinson for 15 years and has never heard a negative comment regarding the mascot. He said the discussion to change the mascot should not be taken lightly and advised caution about removing the mascot. Presidents Seaks thanked Mr. Payne for his comments.
Addition/Removal of Agenda Items or Removal of Items from the Consent Agenda - Mrs. Schwartz moved to accept the agenda and the consent agenda, as presented. Mrs. Orton seconded the motion. A voice vote was taken on the motion. The motion carried unanimously.
Superintendent's Report - Superintendent Hocker addressed the Board. He said there would be strategic planning sessions next week Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, December 17-19. Representatives from APQC will lead the team of about 28 individuals through the sessions.
Dr. Hocker explained the District would be implementing Teachers on Call (TOC) on January 13. Teachers on Call is an outside agency to assist with placing substitute teachers in locations. Teachers
on Call has had great reviews and is located all over the Midwest. TOC will hire substitute teachers, provide incentives, and attempt to grow the substitute teacher pool.
Business Topics - Informational Topics
Mascot - Mr. Daron Stenvold, Ms. Samantha Rayburn-Trubyk, and Mr. Ryan Trubyk, representatives of the Little People of America, were invited by President Seaks to address the Board.
Ms. Rayburn-Trubyk thanked the Board for having them at the meeting. She stated their intent was not to come and force a change of the mascot. They wanted an opportunity to share their perspective and point of view and leave it up to the Board to make a decision.
Ms. Rayburn-Trubyk said the word "Midget" is described as a word derived from the word "midge" which is a tiny fly that spreads disease. Referencing this word and the picture of the mascot on a jacket or shirt, she feels that is what she is being described as. The word "Midget" heightened in the 1800's by P.T. Barnum where little people were bought from parents and put on display in horrible conditions to make money. Whether it is intended or not it is derogatory to individuals with this disability.
Mr. Stenvold addressed the Board. He said he has a six-year-old son with a form of dysplasia. The word "Midget" is very offensive. He said he would want the District to be proud of the mascot and not have others question it.
Mr. Trybyk addressed the Board and said he had a fourteen-year-old little person. He explained the mascot term "Midget" was not created out of something offensive and was with the best of intentions. The word can be weaponized and used against students that are little people. A little person could be going to a sporting event at the school where the mascot is emblazoned on jerseys and the walls. How does the District rationale that it is inappropriate in some context but it is appropriate in a sporting context? He felt this sends a mixed message.
Ms. Rayburn-Trubyk closed with quotes from two individuals. She then said the Board should look at future generations and how they as a Board had the power to make the change to the mascot.
Board Member Wilkie inquired how a person would respond to someone who is saying this change in the mascot is because someone's feelings might get hurt. That it is more than just about feelings.
Mr. Stenvold responded that his son is a little person and inquired if someone could look at his son and comfortably call him a "Midget".
Things have changed naturally as individuals are educated. He said when a person gets out in the real world things are different. It is not just about personal feelings. People do not wish to be referred to as "baldy" or "oldie". A person wants to be called by their name.
Mr. Stenvold asked why someone would intentionally call someone a "Midget". Mr. Trubyk added there are very few safe places for people, for kids as well. Online or in public people can be very cruel. When a child attends school it should be a safe place and understand the school is going to have their back. It should be a safe place for people with disabilities.
Board Member Rodakowski inquired if the suggestion was to just change the "Midget" name. Ms. Rayburn-Trubyk responded it was the "Midget" name that was an offensive word. She said this would be a great opportunity to open it up to the community. She added the mascot could be changed back to the original Coyotes or do something very different.
President Seaks thanked the representatives from the Little People of America for coming to Dickinson and making their request. His sentiment was to ask the administration to go to the community and get its input regarding the mascot name. President Seaks then asked for the Board member's perspective. Board Member Wilkie suggested moving forward with changing the name of the mascot and go to the community to ask what the new name would be. Board Member Orton agreed and said there should be community input. Board Member Rodakowski felt the community needed to come forward with its input.
President Seaks said it was a topic that has been brought up and talked about with previous school board members. He added the mascot represents the community. The community would need to have some input on the topic. There will need to be healthy and meaningful discussions. He would hope there would not be derogatory or contentious discussions. He recommended asking the administration to collect some feedback. This could be a survey within the high school and also a survey within the community and bring the information back to the Board. Board Vice President Schwartz concurred. The administration was directed to survey and receive information and report it back to the school board.
This agenda item was informational only. No action was requested.
Southwest Community High School (SWCHS) Update - Southwest Community High School Principal Kristy Goodall addressed the Board. She shared only two students dropped this past school year and none had dropped so far this school year. Out of the 34 current students, 14-16 are on track to graduate.
Southwest Community High School is in its 18th year of providing an alternative setting for student individualized instruction. Students take responsibility and their goal is to graduate. The staff keeps the students accountable for attendance and behavior. Staff also facilitate over 100 different courses. Mrs. Wyant teaches mathematics and physical education. Mr. Kapelovich teaches English. Mrs. Goodall teaches science and social studies.
From a school and effectiveness survey, 96% of the parents and students felt SWCHS was a safe learning environment.
Board members thanked Mrs. Goodall for her compassion for the students and the information shared. This agenda item was informational only. No action was requested.
Business Topics - Action Topics
Destruction of Old School Records - Business Manager Kent Anderson addressed the board. He said the District had 62 boxes of documents recommended for destruction. Minutes from school board meetings must be retained permanently and school districts must retain payroll records and records of revenues and expenditures for a period of five years. The records recommended for destruction are listed on the BoardDocs website. Action was requested. Mr. Wilkie moved to authorize the Business Manager to destroy the records as presented by shredding and/or depositing them in the Dickinson city landfill. Mrs. Orton seconded the motion. A voice vote was taken on the motion. The motion carried unanimously.
School Board Policy Revision, First Reading - Policy AAC, Nondiscrimination and Anti-harassment is posted on the website utilizing the BoardDocs link. North Dakota School Boards Association (NDSBA) recommended revisions for policy AAC which are noted in red text. Recommended revisions from the Dickinson Public Schools administration are noted in purple text. Action was requested. Mrs. Schwartz moved to approve for first reading the revisions to policy AAC, Nondiscrimination and Anti-harassment Policy as presented. Mr. Wilkie seconded the motion. A roll call vote was taken on the motion: ayes-5 (Rodakowski, Wilkie, Orton, Schwartz, Seaks); nays-0; absent-0. The motion carried unanimously.
School Board Policy Revisions, Second Reading and Final Adoption - The policies with proposed revisions are posted on the website utilizing the BoardDocs link. Changes recommended by the North Dakota School Boards Association (NDSBA) are noted in red text. Dickinson Public Schools administrative recommendations for revisions are noted in purple text. Action was requested. Mr. Wilkie moved to approve for second reading and final adoption the revisions to policies BAA, Employing Board Members; DBAA, Recruitment, Hiring, and Background Checks for New Classified Personnel; KAAA, Visitors in the Schools; and KACB, Complaints About Personnel as presented. Mrs. Schwartz seconded the motion. A roll call vote was taken on the motion: ayes-5 (Schwartz, Orton, Wilkie, Rodakowski, Seaks); nays-0; absent-0. The motion carried unanimously.
Announcements - Board President Seaks announced there would be a Board workshop following a short break.
Adjournment - At 5:45 p.m., Board President Seaks declared the meeting adjourned.
Brent Seaks, Board President
Kent Anderson, Business Manager
Twila Petersen, Secretary
(Published: January 1, 2020)