First reading for communications policy on deck for Mitchell Board of Education

Policy tweaks include school-issued email for board members

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MITCHELL — The Mitchell Board of Education will get its first look at a revised member electronic communication policy when it convenes for its next meeting Monday, April 24.

The meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. in Room 110 at the Mitchell Career & Technical Education Academy.

The board held a discussion at its previous meeting concerning wording in Policy 222, which addresses how board members are allowed to communicate through electronic means such as texting and emails. Terry Aslesen, a member of the board, raised the concern due to wording in the policy that could be read as to prohibit Mitchell Board of Education from using email to communicate with other board members at all.

That policy was instituted before email was as common a form of communication as it has become in 2023, and Aslesen said it was time to bring the policy into the modern era.

“I want it to be simplified for board members to communicate with each other if we need to instead of which hoops do I need to jump through,” Aslesen said following the board’s April 10 meeting.


The modified policy presented in the meeting agenda materials strikes out the phrase in question and replaces it with new text:

“An exchange of information by audio, video, or electronic medium, including the internet, by a quorum of the school board and when official business of the school district is discussed or decided, or public policy is formulated, is subject to open meetings laws,” the policy now reads.

It continues with three more additions:

  • Board members shall not use electronic communication as a substitute for discussion or decision-making at regular or special board meetings open to the public.
  • School board members shall not use electronic communication to discuss or reach a consensus, majority opinion or unofficial decision, related to school district business.
  • School board members will be provided a school district email account for the purpose of school board member related work. 

Mitchell Board of Education 042423 Meeting by inforumdocs on Scribd

Providing a school-issued email will allow board members to communicate using that address as opposed to their personal email accounts. That provision was suggested at the April 10 meeting to protect board members' personal emails in the event that emails related to board business needed to be scrutinized under South Dakota’s open meetings laws.

Policy changes require two readings to become official policy.


The board is expected to consider the following personnel moves:

  • The new certified hires of Darby Deffenbaugh, 6th grade science, ELA teacher at Mitchell Middle School, middle school volleyball coach and middle school track and field, $50,100 (teacher), $1,589 (volleyball coach), $1,345 (track and field coach); Justin Siemsen, Mitchell High School principal, $120,000 and Andrew Hiles, robotics, $765. All hires are effective for the 2023-24 school year.
  • The classified hire of Karisa Hart, middle school show choir accompanist, effective 2023-24 school year.
  • The transfer of Marissa Abts, 5th grade teacher at Longfellow Elementary to Longfellow LEAP director - 21st Century Grant director and 5th grade teacher, effective 2023-24 school year.
  • The change of hours for Erin Miller, 0.6 computer aide/0.4 special education paraeducator at Longfellow Elementary to special education paraeducator 7.75 hours daily at Longfellow Elementary and Lisa Vermeulen, special education paraeducator at Longfellow Elementary, 7 hours daily to 0.6 computer aide/0.4 special education paraeducator 7.25 hours daily at Longfellow. Both changes are effective for the 2023-24 school year.
  • The resignations of Carolyn Sivik, librarian at Mitchell High School, effective June 2; Cody Jenkins, paraeducator at Mitchell High School, effective May 3; Tara Waters, food service workers at Mitchell High School, effective April 28; Hannah Wehlander, middle school music director, effective end of 2022-23 school year pending suitable replacement; Ronae Klein, assistant debate coach, effective end of 2022-23 school year pending suitable replacement and Clay Loneman, ISS supervisor, effective end of the 2022-23 school year.
  • The new Mitchell Technical College hire of Nicole Tonak, farm/ranch management instructor, effective April 13.
  • The Mitchell Technical College resignation of Kendra Goad, nurses support technician, effective April 30.

Other business

Also at the meeting, the board is expected to:

  • Consider approval of  the Mitchell Middle School handbook.
  • Consider approval of a construction bid to remodel the Radiation Technology Lab at Mitchell Technical College.
  • Open bids for the Mitchell Technical College student-built house #109.
  • Hear board member reports
  • Hear the superintendent report.
  • Hear public commentary.
  • Hold a recognition for the accomplishments of Skills USA, HOSA, FBLA, FFA, FCCLA, Robotics, Culinary Arts (Pro Start Competition Team) and welding program competition.

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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