Strib South: Village School Sues State, Nfld School District

Today’s Star Tribune South section included an article about the lawsuit brought by the Village School against the State Dept. of Education and the Northfield School District.

Apparently the legal arguments hinge on a recordkeeping technicality: The board voted 5-2 not to renew its sponsorship for the Village School at its 5/30/06 meeting, but did not put its reasons into the minutes of the meeting. This failure to provide the rationale or justification in the official record of the meeting leaves the School Board’s decision open to being effectively overturned on appeal. If the MN Court of Appeals agrees with the Village School’s argument, the school district would be forced to reconsider the decision, which might automatically reinstate the Village School’s charter during the process of reconsidering the issue.

If the Strib piece is an accurate summary, this all looks like a waste of time and money, for both sides. Even if the school district is legally forced into reconsidering its sponsorship of the Village School, there’s nothing to indicate that the end result of that reconsideration would be any different. And the problems of the Village School are much too deep to be corrected in a year. Plus, what kind of “sponsorship” relationship would the school district and the Village School have after all this acrimony?

I’d be interested in gaining a better understanding of the issue and the details from both sides. Can anyone comment?


  1. Northfield Public Schools ended their sponsorship in such a way that they knew that the Village School would never be able to find a new sponsor in time. They wanted the school gone.

    Yes, the lawsuit does seem like kind of a silly technicality and I agree with you in your doubt that the Village School will ever be open for students again, but I guess I still admire their spunk.

    Recorded or not, I’ve always felt that the school board’s decision to remove sponsorship was unfair (Wish the old ISSUES list was still around — there was a good discussion on there last spring about it). Village School concentrated and made most visible the “worst” sort of teens. But fill up a traditional school with that high a percentage of troubled kids and you’ll see the same results. That is, it wasn’t a lack of effort on the school’s part — it was a lack of appreciation from the community on just how difficult it was to run a school like that.

    May 30, 2007
  2. Griff Wigley said:

    The article doesn’t say if the Minnesota Association of Charter Schools has taken a position on this but I bet they’re livid. Anyone want to contact them and find out?

    I’ve been a frequent critic of the Northfield School District but not many (none?) non-metro districts have sponsored 3 charter schools. They deserve kudos for it.

    May 30, 2007
  3. Griff Wigley said:

    Strib South posted this an hour ago: Court rejects Northfield charter school’s claim. “An effort to reopen the Village School of Northfield met with a major setback today when the Minnesota Court of Appeals denied the charter school’s claim that its closure should be reconsidered.”

    Thx to Curt Benson for the alert.

    July 31, 2007
  4. victor summa said:


    In the Opening Comment of this thread, Tracy reports the MN Court of Appeals is looking at the stress between our local school district and the Village School… and as she reports it, the hole enchilada seems to spin on whether the School Board minutes were complete. Minutes MUST be complete – They are the foundation of Legal Fact Finding. So whether Tracy finds it a waste of time and money or not, does not go to the principle of proper process.

    Sean’s (always well framed) perspective argues for another principle of the Village School’s mission… and the need for that entity.

    My confusion arises out of Griff’s last posting:

    “Strib South posted this an hour ago: Court rejects Northfield charter school’s claim. ”

    I’m not aware of the Court ever acting with such dispatch! Can this be true?
    Must be but… confusion?

    But perhaps a profitable side bar from this thread is embedded in Tracy’s closing remark:

    what kind of “sponsorship” relationship would the school district and the Village School have after all this acrimony?

    My point: Change a few pronouns and some proper nouns and you might ask the same question of the rising rift here… seemingly between The Mayor, the City Administrator, the city council, and the Police . not to mention the public. Seems to argue for a total different process than what’s going on here in Camelot. Acrimony may be an understatement.


    July 31, 2007
  5. Griff Wigley said:

    Tracy posted the initial blog entry on May 29, Victor. So it’s been two months.

    July 31, 2007
  6. victor summa said:

    moral? it pays to read thoroughly.

    conclusion: I was right… it takes more time!

    Collateral interest; So what-about the acrimony and the fall out of personal/civic relations following the Recent Arisen Issues flap? where are our leaders going to go from here?

    It’s not going to be easy to gather together in the glen and sing kumbaya (sp?)

    July 31, 2007

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