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School Board decides not to rehire coach

A decision by the Norman County East School Board to hire a new head volleyball coach has many parents and students upset and asking why. The board, at its regular meeting May 15, voted 4-2 to hire Tammy Lindell over Larry Anenson, head volleybal...

A decision by the Norman County East School Board to hire a new head volleyball coach has many parents and students upset and asking why.

The board, at its regular meeting May 15, voted 4-2 to hire Tammy Lindell over Larry Anenson, head volleyball coach for the past three years at Norman County East, which covers the communities of Twin Valley and Gary in northwest Minnesota.

About two dozen parents and players attended the meeting to show support for Anenson, who continues to work as a nurse and health teacher in the district. His one-year coaching contract carried no guarantee of being continued.

Anenson said he believes his ousting was based on false accusations against him and resentment from some board members stemming from three years ago, when he said he was offered the coaching position over a school board member's daughter.

Disagreements with the district's superintendent, Larry Swanson, were also a factor, he said.

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Anenson said he told Swanson he was considering taking legal action against a district family that had leveled accusations against him and Swanson advised him not to, telling him that as a coach he needed to have a thick skin.

Tina Murn, whose daughter, Lindsay, is a volleyball player, said many parents and team members are upset with the way the board dealt with Anenson.

"He wasn't given the common courtesy of being notified ahead of time," she said. "He has done a good job."

The board also failed to give a good explanation for the decision, which came after the board held a closed-door session, to district residents, Murn said.

Swanson said the meeting was closed according to Minnesota law, which allows meetings to be closed to discuss employee performance.

The law requires that a summary of what was discussed be made public.

The vote to give the coaching contract to someone else summed up the closed session, Swanson said.

"The volleyball program was not going in the direction the district wanted," he said. "It (the board) felt it had to have a change and therefore it made a change."

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Board member Nancy Vigum, who made the motion to close the meeting for personnel reasons, declined to comment on the contract decision, referring questions to Swanson.

Vigum and board members Mark Seeger, Elena Thronson, and Ronald Pinske voted to give the coaching job to Lindell, a home economics teacher with coaching experience.

Board members Perry Skaurud and Christine Dalby voted against giving the contract to Lindell after their attempt to extend Anenson's contract failed.

Dalby said many parents and players liked the job Anenson was doing. "I don't think they (district residents) were ready for another coach," Dalby said, adding she wasn't sure why other board members voted the way they did or if allegations made against Anenson played a part.

Anenson was the subject of allegations that he was physically and verbally rough with players.

Investigations by the Minnesota Department of Children Families and Learning and High School Principal Greg Lund found no wrongdoing.

There are currently no complaints pending against Anenson, Swanson said.

Anenson said the controversy has him wondering whether or not he will stay with the district.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555

I'm a reporter and a photographer and sometimes I create videos to go with my stories.

I graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead and in my time with The Forum I have covered a number of beats, from cops and courts to business and education.

I've also written about UFOs, ghosts, dinosaur bones and the planet Pluto.

You may reach me by phone at 701-241-5555, or by email at dolson@forumcomm.com
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