LeRoy-Ostrander hires temporary superintendent; Search continues for new ‘interim’ superintendent

Published 6:49 am Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Those who feared that the LeRoy-Ostrander Schools District would not open in time for school next month can breathe a sigh of relief—for now.

The L-O School Board hired Steve Sallee, executive director of the Southeast Services Cooperative, to fill in as a temporary superintendent this month. Sallee previously served as superintendent for L-O and Southland a few years ago and still holds proper licensure to serve as the district’s top administrator.

After former interim superintendent Jerry Reshetar resigned from his position on July 24, the district was left with a short timeframe to find someone to replace him. By state statute, no high school can operate without a superintendent managing day-to-day operations, leaving some worried that L-O would not open in time for school.

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However, L-O School Board member Angie Olson stated that there were no concerns about delaying the new school year.

“That was not ever an issue because there are resources to help fill in superintendents to get you by temporarily,” she said. “Our plan was always an interim until everything is better under control.”

Sallee’s appointment comes after Reshetar’s departure notice last month to the school board. Having expressed his frustrations with the alleged lack of support from officials to work on improving relations in the district, Reshetar decided enough was enough, according to a previous story.

“I simply could not develop a level of trust with myself and the board to accomplish our goals,” he said in a previous story. “LeRoy-Ostrander will need to find a new superintendent. Not sure of the future of the school district, as a qualified leader is very important.”

Back in January, Reshetar was chosen as interim superintendent to replace former superintendent Jeff Sampson after the community had called for the end of the shared superintendent agreement between L-O and Southland districts.

Parents, students and staff had decried the alleged mishandling of an investigation into Principal Aaron Hungerholt and teacher Trevor Carrier that resulted in the stripping of their coaching privileges, and then later reinstating them as coaches. Reasons behind this were never shared publicly.

Reshetar was supposed to stay in the position until he felt satisfied that the district was willing to move forward and heal from the past, and thus had not started the process in searching for a permanent superintendent to take his place.

Even though L-O may not have a permanent superintendent, there were other options that could have helped the district stay open without someone in the position. According to the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), many school districts in Greater Minnesota had resorted to sharing superintendents or even send their students elsewhere, which did not require hiring someone permanent.

“Some small districts with populations too small to sustain a secondary school will enter into cooperation agreements where they agree to send their students to another district’s secondary school,” said Emily Bisek, MDE assistant director of communications in an email. “In that case, since the sending district doesn’t operate a secondary school, they wouldn’t be required to employ a superintendent.”

What’s next?

Since Sallee is only working on a short-term basis, he will be assisting district officials in searching for the next interim superintendent. Olson said that there were about four potential candidates that were getting interviewed at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 14. Because the entire school board will be conducting interviews, it means that this particular meeting will be open to the public, Olson said.

Right now, L-O will be looking at a one-year contract for their “interim interim” superintendent, and eventually move onto establishing a more permanent position.

“We did the short-term or ‘interim interim,’” Olson said. “So we had a superintendent in place to help guide us through hiring and get ready for the beginning of the year.”

While L-O looks like it may still continue to push ahead with finding someone to lead the district for the time being, the rest has yet to be said about the current atmosphere surrounding the matter. It appears that there’s still a long road ahead before things could get better.

“(I’m) not sure they are improving,” Olson said. “(It’s) still pretty divided.”