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Board breaks silence

BARNESVILLE, Minn. -- A decision to replace the superintendent of schools here was not due to misconduct. Barnesville School Board members notified Todd Cameron he may be let go because a majority of the board wanted new leadership. The group mad...

BARNESVILLE, Minn. -- A decision to replace the superintendent of schools here was not due to misconduct.

Barnesville School Board members notified Todd Cameron he may be let go because a majority of the board wanted new leadership.

The group made the statement Tuesday after meeting privately with Cameron for more than two hours.

Despite being cleared of legal or ethical wrongdoing, Cameron took little satisfaction in the announcement.

"I'm disappointed," he said. "I never envisioned myself being in this situation."

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The board's action lifts a cloud of secrecy that's hung over the school for six weeks.

School Board Chairwoman Loretta Szweduik and board members Jeff Brown and Kevin and Ellen Smith voted July 8 to tell Cameron his contract may not be renewed when it expires July 1, 2003.

They declined to reveal the reasons for their decision, saying Minnesota's Data Practices Act prevented them from discussing the issue.

The silence angered parents, who flocked to School Board meetings in July and August demanding answers.

After a closed-door meeting with Cameron ended early Tuesday, the board gave residents a direct answer -- they wanted someone new.

Board members said the move to not renew Cameron's contract was based solely on a desire for new leadership and administration.

The board said the decision wasn't tied to misconduct or inappropriate behavior by Cameron or pending disciplinary action against him.

The group thanked Cameron for his service to the district and wished him well in his future endeavors.

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Tuesday's actions proved Cameron did nothing wrong, said Charles Kyte, director of the Minnesota Association of School Administrators.

"It came down to a disagreement over leadership styles," he said.

School Board member Tim Thompson said none of the information discussed at the meeting surprised him.

And after listening to the opinions of the majority of the board, Thompson still supports Cameron.

"I think it's unfortunate what happened to Todd," Thompson said.

Other School Board members didn't talk to the media after the meeting.

Meanwhile, Cameron said he's saddened but not surprised by the board's actions.

He said he'll do his best to work with the board in the future and lead the district in the coming school year.

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He said he intends to honor the remainder of his contract.

"I'm going to be the same positive person I've always been," Cameron said. "The kids will still come first."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Cole Short at (701) 241-5557

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