School board shifts October meeting to Corn Palace

Location will accommodate for social distancing, mask options

The Mitchell Board of Education will hold its next meeting at the Corn Palace to accommodate patrons who wish to attend the meeting but do not wish to wear face masks, as is mandated for all people on Mitchell School District property.

The meeting is scheduled to take place at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

The venue switch comes after several meetings of the board in which district patrons utilized the public commentary portion of the meeting to address their concerns and opposition to the district mask mandate, which states that all people on school district property must wear masks in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19.

Board of education meetings are regularly held in various buildings throughout the district, which means masks are required to attend meetings. Last month, district patron Reed Bender was escorted out of the September meeting of the board by Mitchell police after he refused to put on a mask after being told to do so by school officials.

Graves said the location change will allow for accommodation for both those who want to wear masks and those who don’t, while still allowing for social distancing.


“In order to allow for individuals who wish to provide input to the Board but object to wearing a mask, the Mitchell School Board will hold its October board meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 14 at 5 p.m. at the Corn Palace. Masks will be strongly recommended but not required and social distancing will be observed,” Joe Graves, superintendent for the district, wrote in an email announcing the change of meeting location.

The mask mandate itself is not specifically listed on the agenda for discussion or action, though the regular public commentary portion of the meeting is scheduled as the last item prior to adjournment.

The meeting is open to the public.


The board is expected to make the following personnel moves:

  • The classified hires of Christian Licea, general food service worker, $12.75 per hour, 5.5 hours daily, effective Sept. 16; Patricia Kelly, special education paraeducator, 5.5 hours weekly, $13.42, effective Sept. 19; Sara Tackett, general food service worker at Mitchell High School, $12, effective Sept. 22; Lisa Bruch, general food service worker at Mitchell High School, $13.25, effective Sept. 28; Kaitlyn Huska, assistant speech/debate coach, $2,207, effective 2020-21 school year and Denise Baysinger, administrative assistant at L.B. Williams, $14.50, effective Oct. 26.

  • The resignation of Rowan Byrd, paraeducator at L.B. Williams, effective Oct. 7.

  • The Mitchell Tech new hires of Kasey Thomas, Rad Tech clinical adjunct instructor (Fall 2020), $3,650, effective Aug. 25; Ellie Overweg, off-campus work study, $10.75, effective Oct. 8; Katie McDonnell, off-campus work study, $10.75, effective Oct. 8 and Abigail Kesteloot, off-campus work study, $10.75, effective Oct. 8.

Other business

Also at the meeting, the board is expected to:

  • Receive an update on the Higher Learning Commission Accreditation Visit.

  • Consider adoption of new board K-12 policy 105: Title I Programming and Comparability Procedures on first reading.

  • Appoint delegate to the Associated School Boards of South Dakota Delegate Assembly and board input on ASBSD standing positions and proposed legislative resolutions.

  • Consider approval of K-12 district goals for the 2020-21 school year.

  • Hear board member and superintendent reports.

  • Hear public commentary.

The full agenda and board book for the meeting can be found at under the School Board tab.

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
What To Read Next
Get Local