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George Sanderson, Moorhead, Published May 16 2013

Letter: ND higher ed news disturbing

I grew up in North Dakota and received all of my education from grade school through a master’s degree in the state. My education was just fine. I’ve lived in Minnesota since the mid-1970s and enjoyed a higher education teaching career of more than 30 years.

Two recent items in The Forum have been of particular interest to me. One was a report from the North Dakota attorney general that the state’s Higher Education Board often violated open meeting laws. Wasn’t the attorney who previously worked with the board apparently dismissed for pointing out the same open meeting violations? In fact, the North Dakota attorney general seems to have mandated that the board take additional training about that law. It seems the board and chancellor clearly need to do some remedial work.

In the May 8 column by Chancellor Hamid Shirvani, he bemoans the facts that North Dakota higher education institutions need to do so much remedial work with North Dakota high school grads and that four-year graduation rates in North Dakota are lower than the state he chose for a comparison (Iowa). However, nowhere in his editorial did he mention that the North Dakota attorney general says the Board of Higher Education and its chancellor must also take some remedial work. Oversight?

It seems the only member of the Higher Education Board who clearly understood that what the board was doing was illegal was the student member. If that wasn’t bad enough, the attorney general’s report indicated that other board members attending a meeting where the student member wasn’t present seriously discussed seeking the student member’s phone and email records.

Given the board’s frequent disregard for North Dakota’s open meeting laws, perhaps remedial education about the law is just a slap on the wrist.