Public Forum

Dozens of residents lined up to question the Shakopee School Board in front of a packed auditorium at West Junior High School on March 20.

Following a police investigation, a petition and media coverage, Shakopee School District Superintendent Rod Thompson resigned amid allegations he misused his district credit card.

Some Shakopee residents are hoping a petition will affect change again — this time with the entire school board.

A petition on calls for the resignations of the Shakopee School Board: Chairman Scott Swanson, Vice-Chairwoman Angela Tucker, Treasurer Matt McKeand, Clerk Shawn Hallett and members Reggie Bowerman, Mary Romansky and Tony Pass.

McKeand said there’s nothing he can comment on at this time; Swanson, Tucker, Hallett, Bowerman, Romansky and Pass could not be reached for comment.

Each time the petition is signed, an email is sent to every member of the board. The petition currently has 152 signatures.

According to the petition letter, there has been a “failure to acknowledge or to act on the unethical and possible wrongdoings of (Thompson).”

The letter also states a vote of no confidence in the Shakopee School Board.

“We need a school board that has integrity, accountability and focus on the mission of the Shakopee schools and the future of our children’s education,” Tamera Alpaugh wrote on the petition’s page.

The petition calls for a censure of the entire Shakopee School Board. However, censures are generally used against one member of a board by the other members for an ethical violation, Minnesota School Boards Association Communications Director Greg Abbott said.

“I’ve never seen it used for a petition,” Abbott said.

The petition was drafted by residents of Shakopee through two Facebook groups — “Friends and Concerned Taxpayers of Shakopee” and a private group, resident Lori Fugate, who is a member of both groups, said.

“(The school board) is not acting on behalf of the citizens, they’re just not,” Fugate said. “It seems to be they forgot who they are working for.”

The groups believe the school board was aware of Thompson’s actions, Fugate said.

“They had to know,” she said. “They’re his boss. If they didn’t know, but they did find out and they still weren’t acting, it’s like, ‘What is wrong with you guys?’ “

The call for the resignations came after public comment was not allowed during the June 12 meeting, Fugate said. The board decided not to allow public comment, which district spokeswoman Ashley McCray said at the time was “not unusual,” according to a previous Shakopee Valley News story.

Since school board elections are coming up soon, in November 2018, Fugate said she realizes the school board likely won’t resign. However, that wasn’t the objective.

“The goal is to bring forth the fact that we’re not a minority voice,” she said. “Everybody in this community needs to be heard and they really need to start listening and be more transparent than what they are.”

When a petition for Thompson’s resignation was circulating, School Board Chairman Scott Swanson said 200 people was an important number, but not an overwhelming voice in a community the size of Shakopee.

“It terms of being part of a community with 40,000 individuals, 200 names is important, but it doesn’t represent the majority,” Swanson said at the time.

The petition for the superintendent to resign finished with a total of 531 signatures.

However, Fugate said 200 people is a lot because the entire population doesn’t vote.

Overall, the group wants more transparency and hopes the petition is a wakeup call for the board, Fugate said.

“We are not a small voice,” she said. “We should be taken seriously, just like the opposite side is taken seriously. They need to start listening and acting. They’re there for the rest of us.”

Though the petition might not bring about resignations, Fugate said: “We keep going until action happens.”

Maggie Stanwood was born and raised in small-town Iowa before moving to Wyoming in middle school. After her brief stint in the Wild West, she attended the University of Missouri - Columbia, where she graduated in May 2017 with a Bachelors in Journalism.


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