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Helmut Schmidt, Published April 01 2011

Deacon debater transfers schools over lost argument

FARGO – A top debater at Fargo’s Shanley High School has transferred to Fargo South High School because of the private Catholic school’s disciplinary action against him earlier this year for missing classes to prepare for an upcoming debate.

Teagan Lende will finish his junior year at Fargo South and will not represent Shanley in the final rounds of the April 9 New York University International Public Policy Forum Elite Eight tournament, confirmed his mother, Nancy Lende.

“He has decided he does not want to represent Shanley,” Nancy Lende said Thursday. “He’s not willing to compromise his principles.”

The boy’s mother said she could not go into specifics of the case because the family will discuss the situation with a lawyer today.

“It’s very sad,” she said. This was Teagan’s purpose in life, to compete.”

Teagan and his debate partner, Zach Lipp, were required by Shanley officials to attend school on a day off for other students as punishment for missing a school day while prepping written arguments for the tournament.

Their absence was called truancy, Nancy Lende said.

Shanley school officials have said they treated the teen just like any other student who misses school in such a manner.

The junior’s transfer to Fargo South means he can’t compete in North Dakota forensics for 180 school days, due to North Dakota High School Activities Association rules, his mother said.

“That’s how willing he was to leave Shanley,” she said.

The mother said her son is happy at Fargo South.

“In the end, it will be for the best,” she said. “This isn’t going to be anything that drags him down.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583