By Alan Sorensen
ROCKY BOY Rocky Boy Schools new Board of Trustees Friday afternoon reversed the old board's earlier decision and rehired Superintendent Sandra Murie.
The new school board consists of incumbents Debbie St. Pierre, Edward Parisian and Tracey Jilot and newly elected trustees Theodore Edward Whitford and Shawn Big Knife. Incumbents Dorothy Small and Daryl "Buck" Wright failed in their bids for re-election during the May 2 vote in the Rocky Boy Elementary School gym.
Murie said the new board was sworn in Thursday and canvassed the votes from the election. For its Friday afternoon reorganizational meeting, the board asked Murie to put the issue of the superintendent's contract back on the agenda.
The old board had offered the superintendent's position to Stuart Desjarlait, an educator from Red Lake, Minn.
Desjarlait is the assistant principal at Red Lake Middle School. He was formerly dean of students at Red Lake High School, special services director for the district, and a counselor and kindergarten teacher, also at Red Lake.
Murie said the board was displeased with Desjarlait's counteroffer to take the position and elected not to pursue further negotiations with him.
Murie said this morning that the board's decision wasn't entirely unexpected by her.
"They were not happy with the candidate's proposal, so they voted not to accept his counter proposal," Murie said in a telephone interview. "I just thanked them, and in a bit here, we'll be going into negotiations with the contract itself.
"I thanked them for the offer though, that was a nice surprise."
Murie, superintendent of the public schools on the Chippewa Cree Tribe's Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation since 1991, has been with the district a total of 18 years. She served as a classroom teacher and principal before taking the district's reins.
Just two weeks before her contract was offered to Desjarlait, Murie was given an award for excellence in American Indian education in Montana. It was endorsed by Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction Nancy Keenan and the chairmen of the Montana Board of Public Instruction and Montana Advisory Council for Indian Education.
The votes to cease negotiations with Desjarlait and to offer to renew Murie's contract passed by the identical 4 to 1 votes. Murie declined to identify how the trustees voted because the minutes of the meeting aren't official until they are approved by the board at its next meeting.
Murie said she feels "actually, pretty good" about the offer and is relieved to be able to focus on finishing up her work for this school year and beginning her work on the next.
"I had a lot of comments from staff along those lines, that it's nice that we can get back to work here, and that's dealing with kids," Murie said. "I'm hoping to make the changes that have to be made and go forward."