Blaine County Commissioners will decide Monday whether Hays-Lodge Pole School Board President John Doney should be suspended from his post pending court action.
County School Superintendent Lisa Stroh said she asked commissioners to take the unprecedented action because ofwhat she said was the rapidly deteriorating situation under Doney’s leadership. She said she decided to move forward “for the good of the students.”
The vote will be preceded by a public hearing in which everyone will be given a chance to express opinions on the proposal, Stroh said.
Judge John C. McKeon has ruled that Blaine County Attorney Don Ranstrom has sufficient evidence to bring seven misdemeanor misconduct charges against Doney. Doney will appear in court at 10 a.m. on Nov. 26 to answer the charges.
Stroh said there is tumult in the school, students are fleeing to Harlem and Dodson schools, teachers are demoralized and police arrive at school to break up fights, but they feel no one is in charge.
Philip Shortman had been the superintendent, but was removed because he doesn’t have state certification.
Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau gave Shortman certification as a principal for fifth through 12th grades, and Shortman arrived in school and sent a memo to teachers saying "I’m back,” Stroh said.
But Stroh said Shortman has no authority to be a principal over kindergarten to fourth-grade classes and has no authorization to be the superintendent, though he appears to be acting in that capacity.
Stroh said she is contemplating action against two other school board members, Brenda Essert and Daryl Brocke, two Doney allies.
She said she understands that Brockie has resigned, and, in any event, has missed four school board meetings without an excuse, making her ineligible. But Doney has withheld the letter, she said.
Stroh called board member George Horse Capture “awesome,” but said he has become dispirited by the goings on. Stroh appointed the fifth member, George Maines, but Doney has refused to seat him.
Doney could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.