The Osakis School Board’s decision last month to rescind an offer for a junior varsity baseball coaching position drew a packed crowd at the district office Monday night, March 9.

Melanie Stier, president of the Osakis Education Association, the union representing the teachers, took the floor to read her impactful letter of non-grievance to the School Board.

In the letter, the OEA said the Osakis School District violated its contract when it voted at its February meeting to rescind the coaching offer. The union agreement states that no changes can be made on scheduled assignments without the approval of the district, athletic director and the executive board of the exclusive representative.

“Despite the district’s decision being in direct violation of the contract, OEA has elected not to file a grievance,” Stier said while reading the letter. “The OEA’s decision to not file a grievance should not be viewed as accepting the district’s authority in this matter. Should the district take similar action in the future, the OEA will take action.”

Though the name of the coach was not said directly in the letter of non-grievance or in the discussion following, it pertains to Joey Andreason, who is also the current head coach of the wrestling team. Andreason, who wasn’t at the meeting, is a second-grade teacher for Osakis Elementary School.

The union expressed concerns about why the coaching offer was rescinded.

“The OEA is very aware of the actions of a few of our board members in trying to influence parents and community members to try and tarnish the reputation of some of our coaches,” Stier said. “Our coaches have shown passion and dedication while giving tremendous amounts of their time working with our students.”

School board members said they were not allowed to comment directly on the matter.

“There are things that are privy to board members, administration and such that we cannot carry out into the public," said Becky Hensley, School Board chair. "We appreciate the amount of support in this room right now for your union, but you have to understand that we are doing with what we know and what we have. We reached out to MSBA (Minnesota School Board Association) to provide direction.”

“From what I had heard, the MSBA has recommended not doing the rescinding,” Stier replied.

“There were certain things that we can’t say publicly that were against data privacy rules,” Hensley said.

While the offer is no longer on the table for Andreason, the board approved the hiring of Dylan Kohorst to take over the coaching position.

“These positions are demanding and very hard to fill, especially as a small school,” Stier said. “They require the support of the community, staff, parents, administration and the board members. I’ve had numerous phone calls with people disappointed in the bullying and harassment that has taken place from specific board members. These actions will not be tolerated, and if it happens in the future, we will not hesitate to file a personal grievance.”

Along with the junior varsity baseball position, the board approved Laken Lymburner to take over the junior high track and field team while Ana Chisholm will be the junior varsity softball coach.

The board also approved a co-op motion for a home-schooled student to join the football team. Athletic Director Pat Kalpin will go through the requirements with the Minnesota State High School League to allow the home-schooled student to participate in the 2020 football season.

(This story was updated to include the school board's response to the union's statements.)

Coronavirus puts school trips in jeopardy

With the latest concerns about the rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus, two school trips are currently in jeopardy. High school social studies teacher and Osakis boys basketball coach, Matt Hoelscher, is planning on chaperoning a trip to Washington D.C. in one week and an abroad trip to Italy and Greece in June.

“Right now, Italy is in a level three, which means they aren’t allowing travel,” Hoelscher said. “We have until April 1, to decide what we are going to do or if we are going to reroute the trip. I’ve been working with the travel agency, and they’re keeping us up to date. With Italy being in complete lockdown, it’s not looking good.”

Blood drive success

On a more positive note, the student board representative, Camryn Hoffarth, presented the results of the blood drive from Feb. 28. The student board collected 42 pints of blood. Out of the 53 registered donors, 44 of them were first-timers. The students are planning to host another blood drive in May.