Mitchell Board of Education to review member electronic communication policy

Current wording could disallow email communications, member says

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MITCHELL — The Mitchell Board of Education will review a Mitchell School District policy dictating electronic communication between members of the board when it convenes for its next regular meeting Monday, April 10.

The meeting will take place at 5:30 p.m. in Room 110 at the Mitchell Career & Technical Education Academy.

The review stems from a request by board member Terry Aslesen, who said the current wording of Policy 222, which lays out rules for board members concerning communication with each other via electronic devices, could actually make any email correspondence between two members of the board a violation of policy.

Policy 222, the full text of which can be found in the meeting agenda materials, currently includes the following sentence:

“Due to the possibility that electronic communications between school board members may constitute or lead to a violation of open meetings statutes, Mitchell School Board members shall not utilize electronic communications with other members of the board.”


Aslesen said his concern was that the phrase implies that board members could not use email to communicate with each other at all, even if that communication was between only two members of the board, which would not constitute a quorum of members. The Mitchell Board of Education has five members, meaning a quorum is reached when three members are communicating about board business.

“There’s a little notation at the bottom of the current policy that says thou shalt not email at all, and that’s not in conjunction with what the rest of the policy says,” Aslesen told the Mitchell Republic. “So I think it should just be uniform that whether you’re messaging or emailing it’s ok so long as in the case of a board with only five people, you’re only talking to one person at a time.”

Aslesen also said he would consider adding wording that would allow more leeway in electronic communication between board members in the event that communication does not deal with official board business. He said it would be useful for board members to be able to utilize features like “reply to all” in response to email messages that don’t deal with business that should only be conducted at official meetings, even though replying to everyone in a group email could be viewed as communication involving all five members of the board.

April 10 2023 Mitchell Board of Education Agenda by inforumdocs on Scribd

“For example, if they said there’s going to be a social for the Teacher of the Year, are you going to be able to attend or not? It’s not making any decisions, per se,” Aslesen said.

The current policy was last revised in July of 2011 and last reviewed in June of 2019.

Executive session to finalize superintendent contract

The board is also expected to go into executive session to iron out a wording issue in the contract for Joe Childs, who the board plans to hire as its next full-time superintendent following the departure of previous superintendent Joe Graves.

Deb Olson, president of the Mitchell Board of Education, said the detail is a minor issue and is expected to be resolved quickly.

“Without a doubt,” Olson said when asked if the board was still expected to accept a signed contract from Childs to take over the position.


The board offered the position to Childs in March after a search and interview process to find a replacement for Graves, who had been with the district in the role of superintendent for more than 20 years. Graves resigned in January to accept the position of secretary for the South Dakota Department of Education.


The board is expected to consider the following personnel moves:

  • The new certified hires of Megan McManus, elementary teacher at Gertie Belle Rogers Elementary, $53,003; Katelyn Albertz, 5th grade teacher at L.B. Williams Elementary, $47,000 and Ronae Klein, assistant girls golf coach, $2,236.
  • The new classified hire of Rebecca Genzlinger, administrative assistant at Gertie Belle Rogers Elementary, $17 per hour, 8 hours daily, effective April 11, 2023.
  • The transfers of Audra Bormann, fourth grade teacher at Gertie Belle Rogers Elementary to second grade teacher at Gertie Belle Rogers Elementary and Victoria Erwin, sixth grade science/ELA teacher at Mitchell Middle School to seventh and eighth grade ELA teacher at Mitchell Middle School. Both are effective for the 2023-24 school year.
  • The retirement of Craig Mock, vice principal at Mitchell High School, effective at the end of the 2022-23 school year.
  • The resignations of Kelsey Berletic, Mitchell Middle School teacher, resigning from a year of absence, effective end of the 2022-23 school year; Kindra Clark, seventh grade girls basketball coach, effective end of the 2022-23 school year pending suitable replacement; Mary Fouss-Disckton, salad bar attendant at L.B. Williams Elementary, effective March 20, 2023; Judy Miiller, administrative assistant at Gertie Belle Rogers Elementary, effective June 13, 2023; Conner DeRouchey, CCC/computer aide at Gertie Belle Rogers Elementary, effective end of the 2022-23 school year; Amber Scheele, GATE instructor, effective April 17, 2023 and Danieka Heckenlaible, kindergarten teacher at Longfellow Elementary and 21st Century Grant director, effective April 17, 2023.
  • The Mitchell Technical College hires of Dale Mesman, adjunct commercial drivers license instructor at $35 per hour, effective March 22, 2023 and Roxane Hunt, adjunct registered nurse clinical instructor, $6,300, effective Jan. 9, 2023.

Other business

Also at the meeting, the board is expected to:

  • Consider revising the 2023-24 school calendar.
  • Consider approval of the MCEA Memorandum of Understanding.
  • Consider approval of the school district at MEA supposal.
  • Consider a resolution authorizing membership in the South Dakota High School Activities Association.
  • Consider approval of a renewal motion and participation agreement with Associated School Boards of South Dakota for Protective Trust South Dakota School District Benefits Fund for the 2023-24 school year.
  • Hear board member reports.
  • Hear the superintendent report.
  • Consider approval of Joe Childs as an authorized signer for the Mitchell School District.

The meeting is open to the public. The Mitchell Republic will livestream the meeting.

Erik Kaufman joined the Mitchell Republic in July of 2019 as an education and features reporter. He grew up in Freeman, S.D., graduating from Freeman High School. He graduated from the University of South Dakota in 1999 with a major in English and a minor in computer science. He can be reached at
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