A member of the Williams County Public School District No. 8 school board who has been accused of stealing from Missouri Ridge Township has resigned.
Deanna Senior, who was arrested May 31 and charged with one class B felony count of theft, submitted a letter of resignation to District 8 board president Jenny Jorgenson. The board voted 4-0 on Monday, June 10, to accept the resignation.
Board members offered no comments on the resignation, but did discuss how to fill the open seat. A regular school board election is scheduled for Tuesday, June 11.
Two seats are up for election: the ones currently held by Jorgenson and board member Amber Anderson. Jorgenson is not running, but Anderson is, as are Myles Fischer, Dawn Hollingsworth and Kyle Renner.
Jorgenson, who has served two three-year terms on the board, said the district hasn’t been consistent about how vacancies are filled.
“Our past practice has been all over the board,” she said.
Under state law, boards have 60 days to either appoint a new member or call a special election. If they don’t fill the position within 60 days, the county superintendent of schools is tasked with calling a special election.
Anderson suggested following a procedure similar to what Williston Public School District No. 1 did when Dr. Brent Vibeto resigned from the board. The District 1 board took applications and eventually appointed Robert Krom, who served about a year on the board but did not run for a full term.
“I think applications are important, because you get to know someone,” Anderson said.
Jorgenson said she thought applications were good, but there was a tight schedule that had to be followed.
“The thing is we only have 60 days until it’s out of our hands,” she said.
The board took no action, but plans to make a decision during a special meeting on Monday, June 17, when it will meet to canvass the results of Tuesday’s election.
At Monday’s meeting, the board also voted 4-0 to have Eide Bailly conduct a forensic audit, a reaction to Senior’s arrest on theft charges. Senior was authorized to sign checks for the district, but district officials said she didn’t have access to the accounts.
Business Manager Sherri Heser said she spoke to representatives from Eide Bailly who told her a forensic audit would cost between $5,000 and $7,500. Heser told the board that they could ask for one now, or, if they didn’t, their auditors would likely request one in the fall as part of the district’s annual audit.
Jorgenson said the district office has gotten multiple phone calls about Senior’s arrest and whether the district was affected.
“I think you’re better off now because our public is seeing what’s happening and they want to know nothing was taken from them,” she said.
Because the company the district uses for its annual audits would likely request one in the fall if there wasn’t one done now, it made sense to move forward, she said.
“I think you do it now and let the public know we’re doing our due diligence and not putting it on the back burner until October,” Jorgenson told the other board members.