Facing a possible recall election, District No. 8 board member Katie Peterson addressed the accusations made against her from a committee led by parent and chairman Terrie Nehring.
Peterson said she doesn’t fully understand the recall, which names her and Monica Chamley, adding she was aware Nehring and other parents had problems with superintendent Fran Swensgard. Peterson said the complaints against Swensgard and the report done by school board president Debbie Brown were not enough for the board to do anything formal with.
The recall is only for two board members because Brown and Dave Rockstad are up for re-election in June and Heather Kitzman is brand new on the board. Peterson felt she thought she was “doing a good job” on the board.
“It seems like we’re the two bad board members they want to be recalled,” Peterson said. “But really we’re the only ones who can be. It’s kind of hard not to take it personal, but it’s not personal because it’s against the whole board.”
Complaints against Peterson and Chamley listed in the recall petition are discrimination, allowing and contributing to a school district climate of employee fear and intimidation, failure to properly vet the superintendent, failure to provide proper supplies for students and teachers, and failure to supply the necessary employees to properly serve the students and teachers.
Both Brown and Peterson said the recall complaints mirror the same problems Nehring and Jennie Henderson levied against Swensgard. Peterson added that she has yet to meet the two parents leading the recall, saying she was out of town at the meeting they appeared at with the complaints.
Nehring said the report from Brown was legitimate but felt the complaints were “watered down” by Brown. She also said the board never took her complaints, or those of other parents teachers seriously.
“[The school board] wouldn’t work with us—they didn’t ever take our complaints seriously and they’re backing [Swensgard] a hundred percent,” Nehring told the Herald on Dec. 21. “There’s no one for [the school board] to answer to and there’s no rules or regulations for [Swensgard] so she picks and chooses how to treat teachers and parents.”
Peterson is on her second year as District No. 8 board member and doesn’t agree that the board can be recalled over issues with the superintendent. She said the district has legal counsel to make sure it goes through the process properly, as it does for every legal decision she added.
Brown said she is not certain when a recall election would take place if the petition is successful.
“The process is what the process is, and I feel I’ve done the best job I can as a board member,” Peterson said. “I have a son in school and a daughter that went through the system.
“I want what’s best for the district.”
As of press time, Monica Chamley could not be reached for comment.