School board members rave about Fargo superintendent, with one exception

Fargo Public Schools Superintendent Rupak Gandhi.jpg
Fargo Public Schools Superintendent Rupak Gandhi during a school board meeting earlier this year. C.S. Hagen / The Forum

FARGO — Fargo School Board members issued a glowing performance report for Superintendent Rupak Gandhi, with a majority saying he has surpassed expectations, even as he deals with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

However, one board member, Jennifer Benson, gave Gandhi an unsatisfactory rating in relation to executive limitations, which are restrictions the board puts on his powers and those of other administrators.

Benson reported that Gandhi was not in compliance with handling some complaints from parents and students, had a lack of administrative policies ensuring full compliance with federal and state law, and lacked some complaint resolution procedures.

“I would say overall his performance is partially meeting expectations,” Benson said in the superintendent’s evaluation, noting that “there are some trending concerns” and “accountability measures continue to be met with significant resistance.”

Others on the nine-member school board said Gandhi continued to “exceed expectations.”


“I particularly appreciate his professionalism while responding to the widely-varying and extenuating considerations of current events; his eagerness to invite dialogue with constituents on any and every matter; his ability to redirect and shift with the rapidly evolving information related to the pandemic, and his thoughtful, steady leadership throughout the past several months,” board member Robin Nelson said.

While Benson criticized Gandhi’s handling of his executive limitations in regards to the treatment of parents, students and members of the public, board member Tracie Newman said Gandhi excels in the same category and that “his efforts in these areas have been above and beyond expectations.”

Board member Jim Johnson said Gandhi is proactive in meeting board and community expectations, pointing to the hiring of a new director of equity and inclusion as an example. “Dr. Gandhi is always mindful of the executive limitations and to the best of my knowledge has not violated any of them since joining the district,” Johnson said.

Board president Rebecca Knutson said Gandhi is approachable, willing to learn, and approaches problems with a calm, measured manner, but combined with the urgency demanded of him. “I have great admiration for Dr. Gandhi’s temperament as he leads the district through the uncomfortable and challenging waters,” Knutson said.

“I am extremely grateful for the kind remarks and positive evaluation from the Fargo Public Schools’ Board of Education," Gandhi said in response to the performance report. "While there may be varying opinions on any board, it is my responsibility to work for the board majority. I will reflect on all feedback from board members and continue to serve our community in accordance with guidance from the Board of Education."

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