St. Regis residents launch petition against school board, superintendent

2013-01-09T05:45:00Z 2013-05-20T19:47:16Z St. Regis residents launch petition against school board, superintendentBy KIM BRIGGEMAN of the Missoulian missoulian.com
January 09, 2013 5:45 am  • 

St. Regis citizens will present a petition of no confidence to the local school board and its first-year superintendent at the board’s monthly meeting Wednesday night.

“It’s sort of a public opinion survey as to people’s opinion of the fiscal accountability of the St. Regis school district, the way they’re spending the taxpayers’ money,” said Marlene Durland.

Durland is one of the initiators of the petition and a friend of Principal Tammy Demien, who was placed on administrative leave by Superintendent Janet Hanson in August and remains there.

A report of an investigation by the Montana School Boards Association was released on Nov. 2.

“The matter has been concluded and (Demien) remains on administrative leave,” school board chair Shelly Dunlap said Tuesday.

Demien’s Missoula attorney, Lance Jasper, said a complaint his office has filed against Hanson and the board is in the administrative process and is currently in front of the board.

Jasper added he’s played no part in the petition drive.

“I was unaware of it but not surprised,” he said.

The petition doesn’t mention Demien by name but says the board will spend some $100,000 in taxpayer money by placing district employees on paid administrative leave and paying staff members to assume their duties.

Sharon Patterson, who wrote the text of the petition with Durland, said the $100,000 figure was arrived at in part by estimating Demien’s salary and benefits from July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2013, based on past principals’ pay.

She said the reported $1,500 a month the district is paying each of the staff members who’ve taken on additional duties in Demien’s absence is included, as well as the custodian’s salary and replacement pay.

“The more I figure it, it’s going to be more than $100,000,” Patterson said Tuesday.

The petition, addressed to the Board of Trustees of St. Regis School District 1 and Hanson, maintains that the actions of placing employees on administrative leave have resulted in expenditures that have “no positive benefit to the students, staff or the community. This $100,000 has been taken away from educating our young people.”

It continues: “This action is to further express that through our right to vote your actions are jeopardizing future funding of St. Regis School District and also your re-election to the board of trustees.”

Durland estimated the number of signatures on various petitions around the small Mineral County town is “probably getting close to 85 or 90.”

“That’s not nearly as many as we would have hoped for, but St. Regis has a large population of retirees that I guess don’t want to fight these battles any more,” said Durland, a retiree herself.

Others may have association with school board members and “don’t want to jeopardize cohesiveness of the community,” she said.

***

A handful of businesses agreed to post the petition, but others refused.

Dunlap said she’s heard the number of signatures gathered was “somewhere around 68.”

“I think it’s signed by a very small portion of the electorate. Less than 10 percent have signed it,” she said.

She wasn’t certain how many registered voters are in the St. Regis School District, but 142 votes were cast in a successful general fund levy election last May.

The petition is “based in large part on misinformation, at least as far as where they’re getting their numbers from,” Dunlap said. “I’m not exactly sure what they’re using to come up with those figures.”

The drive has drawn attention to Demien’s situation from those who weren’t otherwise aware of it, said Floyd Brady, a retiree who has no connection with the St. Regis School District.

“Somebody out there has got to put pressure on these folks,” Brady said. “They should come out and let the people know what’s going on. I don’t care to know the gory details, but is (Demien) going to keep her job?”

Reporter Kim Briggeman can be reached at 523-5266 or at kbriggeman@missoulian.com.

Copyright 2015 missoulian.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(5) Comments

  1. bluepastry
    Report Abuse
    bluepastry - January 10, 2013 3:40 am
    i live in mineral county and the schools are a pathetic joke..redneck good ol boy corrupt racist people in my opinion..profiling in st regis, a sales tax in st regis...the town is a dump
  2. mICKEY
    Report Abuse
    mICKEY - January 09, 2013 12:37 pm
    I wish the school board would listen to their continuents and try to solve this problem instead of just hoping it will go away. Tammy Damien is an honest good hard working person and has nothing but the schools interests as her priority.. The new superindentent is just a person who came here to do a job ( from a charter school) and has no ties to the community and probably never will. Sounds like a big cat fight among a bunch of employees who did not like Tammy, for probably just standing up to them and defending the school and the teachers interests. Tammy will still be part of this community when the others are all gone somewhere else.
  3. lostonthefrontier
    Report Abuse
    lostonthefrontier - January 09, 2013 10:30 am
    I think a lot more people would have signed the petitions if they would have seen them. They may have been in a couple of businesses but not enough of them. Also, in a community that small it would be awful easy for people to make your life hell if they saw your name on it.
  4. anonymous201288
    Report Abuse
    anonymous201288 - January 09, 2013 10:07 am
    If given an "Inch" they will take a :Mile:. The people should be outraged at any attempt to not let ALL the facts be known. YOUR Tax dollars are paying for this. And as for the Retiree's ,what they paid into the Tax system is what is now allowing THEM the ability to retire .They still travel the roads and enjoy their "sewer" system. Letting the other guy do the worrying is what has brought America down to where it is.
  5. hellgatenights
    Report Abuse
    hellgatenights - January 09, 2013 3:59 am
    “That’s not nearly as many as we would have hoped for, but St. Regis has a large population of retirees that I guess don’t want to fight these battles any more,” said Durland, a retiree herself.

    **
    Ironically, the seniors and retiree's get absolutely NO benefit from property taxes usurped from them to pay for "Education." The have no kids in school and are not only paying fot current teachers, but all those who have retired and take far more from the pension then they ever put in (Yes, I have done the actual math on a retired teachers pension).

    Oops........I guess you are paying all these costs too! Yeah......it's time to do away with all public pensions, they can get along fine on a 401 like the rest of us slobs do.
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