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Kelly Smith, Published June 16 2009

Three Oak Grove school leaders resign

Fargo Oak Grove Lutheran School President Bruce Messelt will resign with the completion of his contract on July 11. The announcement came Monday night at a parent input meeting at Oak Grove Elementary School.

Top leaders of the Board of Regents also announced their resignations.

Paul Lybeck, who works at an insurance company and is the chairman of the school’s Board of Regents, resigned Friday. Vice Chairwoman Jodi Uecker-Rust, a business and technology consultant, resigned Monday.

“President Messelt will continue to serve in the capacity of president of Oak Grove until the end of his term,” spokeswoman AnnMarie Campbell said Monday night.

Campbell also confirmed Lybeck and Uecker-Rust’s resignations.

She said she didn’t have information regarding Messelt's or Lybeck’s reasons for resigning, but said about Uecker-Rust: “Due to her professional commitment as a technology consultant, it is taking her away from Fargo and the time commitments … are conflicting, so that is her reason for resigning.”

Monday was the second of four meetings Oak Grove officials held to “engage parents in conversations about the schools’ vision,” Campbell said.

What was scheduled to be a two-hour meeting on Monday night lasted 10 to 15 minutes when Board of Regents member Steve M. Scheel announced the resignations and canceled the last two input meetings.

“We hope to reschedule those in the future and to continue visioning for the school,” Campbell said.

Scheel declined to comment when contacted after the meeting.

Messelt couldn’t be reached for comment Monday night.

At the last meeting on June 11, parents reportedly voiced concern about three staff resignations, including Elementary School Principal Kim Forness. Forness’ husband, Morgan, is the principal of the high school and was recently a candidate for the Fargo School District’s new Davies High School.

Campbell wouldn’t disclose any information about other resignations.

“At this time, Oak Grove can’t comment on human resources and personnel information,” she said.

The Forum was not allowed into Monday’s meeting or on the private school’s property. Parents who talked after the meeting said the Board of Regents asked Kim Forness to reconsider her resignation, which Campbell later confirmed.

“It would just be nice to know what’s going on … why are these teachers resigning … what’s the focus?” parent Randy Martinson said as he and his wife left the meeting. “They need to be forthcoming to parents.”

His wife, Loralie, added that they liked Oak Grove for its small, “nurturing” environment, but the recent news “does make us question the stability (of the school).”

Messelt, the former Moorhead city manager, joined Oak Grove in July 2007.

There are 20 members on the Board of Regents, which oversees all of the school’s operations and hires the school’s president.

Campbell said the board is working “through our leadership vacancies on the board and working with the school administration.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kelly Smith at (701) 241-5515