WDC School Board to allow public comment at start of meetings

In response to an expressed interest from several parents who attended Monday's WDC School Board meeting, the board passed a resolution to allow public comments at the start of each meeting.

WDC School Board 4-17-2023.jpg
The Wadena-Deer Creek School Board held its regular monthly meeting on Monday, April 17, 2023.
Vicki Gerdes / Wadena Pioneer Journal

WADENA — A public comment period will now become part of the monthly agenda of the Wadena-Deer Creek School Board, following action taken by the board at its Monday, April 17 meeting.

The board voted unanimously to pass a resolution that will allow for public comments at the start of each board meeting. Though the official guidelines for participating in the public comment period are still being finalized, Superintendent Lee Westrum said at the meeting that comments would most likely be limited to three minutes per speaker, and any topic that violates student or staff privacy would not be allowed.

The board took this action after a group of concerned parents approached district administration and asked to speak at Monday night's meeting; according to Westrum, the request came too late for them to be added to the agenda.

"It is the board's prerogative what goes on the agenda," Westrum said after the meeting.

The group of about 30 parents in attendance at the meeting were thus not given an opportunity to address the board that night, but Westrum noted that they would be allowed to speak at the start of the May board meeting. He also noted that the May meeting's agenda would include a presentation from Pemberton Law attorney Kristi Hastings regarding legal issues surrounding transgender students


Per a message that was sent to the Wadena Pioneer Journal via Facebook Messenger, the parents' request to address the board was related to "who can use what bathroom." That same topic was also discussed by parents at the board's March meeting, Westrum noted, adding that he felt both district administration and the school board were "acting in good faith" by giving the public an opportunity to speak next month, and by calling in an attorney to discuss the legal issues surrounding it.

One parent did speak up to ask Westrum if they would be allowed to speak during the attorney's presentation; he said they would be given an opportunity to ask questions.

Also at Monday's meeting, the board voted unanimously to "forgive" the district's most recent snow day on April 5, and reduce the number of student days on this year's school calendar from 172 to 171 as a result. The district's last day of school is scheduled for Thursday, June 1.

Other items discussed at Monday's meeting included this year's summer school session, which will take place from June 12-29. Students in grades K-8 will be attending classes at both the elementary and middle/high school sites.

The last item on the agenda was the discussion of an employee grievance that had been filed with the school bus drivers' union. The board went into closed session to discuss the issue, due to data privacy considerations.

"The board voted unanimously to deny the grievance," Westrum said, noting only that it was related to employee discipline.

A reporter at Detroit Lakes Newspapers since relocating to the community in October 2000, Vicki was promoted to Community News Lead for the Detroit Lakes Tribune and Perham Focus on Jan. 1, 2022. She has covered pretty much every "beat" that a reporter can be assigned, from county board and city council to entertainment, crime and even sports. Born and raised in Madelia, Minnesota, she is a graduate of Hamline University, from which she earned a bachelor's degree in English literature (writing concentration). You can reach her at
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