The Bowman County School board has had two meetings this past week and three school board presidents.
Byline: Chris Slone
Former president Dan Peterson was voted out as president at the Monday, April 9, regular school board meeting under an amended agenda item at the beginning of the meeting, titled “Decision making concerns.”
At the same meeting, vice president Stacy McGee was voted as the president while Russ Homelvig was voted in as vice president.
Then, at the special meeting, which was held Tuesday, April 10, another agenda item was added prior to the meeting, which was titled “school-board president position.”
At that beginning of the meeting, McGee stepped down from her position as president and later, Kevin Bucholz was unanimously voted in as president of the Bowman County School Board.
“Last night, we moved, I felt, quickly,” McGee said at the meeting. “I wasn’t prepared for what had happened.”
In less than 24 hours, the board was looking for another president once again.
Peterson expressed interest in the presidency again and frustration that no one else wanted to take the leadership role.
“ … (Monday) night we sat here for 40 minutes and no one wanted to be president. No one was here to hear that, but no one wanted to be president,” Peterson said. “It was like a hot potato being passed around the table.”
A member of the crowd also chimed in, asking the board to show some leadership.
“Everyone of you were elected to the school board,” the citizen said. “You were elected with the potential to be a leader. Somebody please step up. If not, resign from the board.”
Peterson then posed the question, “If any agenda item is added and it says ‘decision making concerns,’ is that a legitimate agenda item to remove a president?”
Peterson said the aforementioned agenda item morphed into the removal of the board president at Monday’s scheduled board meeting.
“We make a statement at the beginning of all of our meetings that says, ‘The board cannot act on any action, on any matter that’s not specifically listed on the current board agenda,’” Peterson said.
“The question I have, amongst us, is are we going to stick to the policies that we have that apply to everyone else?”
The board agreed they followed the procedures in place.
Peterson said he had been hammered throughout the day Tuesday by the public. He wasn’t sure why. Peterson said he didn’t add the agenda item to remove himself as president. He said people kept asking why the board didn’t notify the public.
“People were wondering why we had this issue of removing the president and it wasn’t out in the open for the public to discuss, giving them the opportunity to comment whether it be positive or negative,” Peterson said.
At the end of the special session, when asked about adding the item just before the Monday regular meeting as opposed to publicly listing the item before next month’s regular meeting, president Kevin Bucholz declined to comment.
“We have a tax payer in here today, telling us one of us needs to step up,” Peterson said. “I’m telling you, last night, I didn’t have the opportunity to address one of those concerns thrown at me. The facts of Mr. Miller (possible interim superintendent) being in the building and all of those issues, no one once addressed me. And the people that had the concerns that are supposed to run through the chain of command, never came to me … “
As Peterson was addressing Miller being in the schools Friday and a text message he sent to the board at 4:19 p.m., Friday afternoon, Andrea Bowman nominated Bucholz as president without giving Peterson the opportunity to finish addressing his critiques. The vote took place moments later and Peterson was never given another opportunity to finish addressing the school board regarding his dismissal as school board president.
Approximately two hours after the special meeting Tuesday, Peterson sent his resignation letter to Bucholz, which read:
Effective immediately I’m resigning from position on the Bowman County School Board. I will turn in my school issued computer to Debbie tomorrow.
Peterson was grateful for the 17 years he spent on the Bowman County School Board.
“I would like to thank the residents of the Bowman County School district for allowing me to represent them on the board for the last 17 years,” Peterson said via text message.