Duluth school superintendent has been working without required licenseDuluth school district Superintendent I.V. Foster has been working in Minnesota without a license required for his job, according to records kept by the Minnesota Department of Education.
By: Jana Hollingsworth, Duluth News Tribune
Duluth school district Superintendent I.V. Foster has been working in Minnesota without a license required for his job, according to records kept by the Minnesota Department of Education.
Foster was placed on paid administrative leave Monday by the Duluth School Board, which also initiated an investigation into allegations against him. Board members Tuesday would not say whether the two items are related and wouldn’t comment on the investigation. Foster didn’t return calls Tuesday.
Possessing a license for a superintendent position in Minnesota is required by law. Not having one, said Stan Mack, executive director of the Minnesota Board of School Administrators, also is a possible violation of the professional code of ethics for administrators.
“State law requires the district to employ a licensed superintendent,” Mack said.
Mack couldn’t say what the implications for the district might be, but he said the district had in its contract that a license was required.
“They have done all they could,” he said. “You assume when you have a signed contract that all of the conditions are being fulfilled.”
The licensure requirement is the second item in Foster’s contract.
As executive director of the board that oversees administrators, Mack deals with allegations against them. He said the Minnesota Department of Education twice a year gathers information on licensing of educators and administrators. He was notified by the department about Foster’s lack of a license during the preparation of the most recent report, and he notified the Duluth school district and Foster.
Mack said a superintendent not possessing a license for the length of time that has passed since Foster began working is unusual.
Interim Superintendent Bill Gronseth, who is the assistant superintendent, has a valid superintendent’s license. Gronseth was a finalist last spring for the superintendent position. Coincidentally, Mack also was a finalist.
Foster was issued an administrator educator credential in Illinois on November 2000, which is valid until July 2016, according to the Illinois State Board of Education. Mack said the Illinois credential that is the equivalent of the superintendent license in Minnesota expired for Foster on June 30.
Foster told Mack he applied for his Minnesota license on Monday, Mack said.
Board member Art Johnston said he couldn’t comment on Foster’s situation. But he said he thinks the district should disclose the reason for the investigation of Foster.
“I think it’s sad that speculation is rampant,” he said. “It’s going to be another blow to the school district. We look bad to the community and we can’t afford it.”
Board members Ann Wasson, Tom Kasper, Gary Glass, Judy Seliga Punyko and Tim Grover also said they would like to respond to questions but are legally bound against it.
Foster was chosen by the School Board from three finalists April 30 and began working for the district July 1. His contract runs for three years and his base pay is $173,765, which is more than his predecessor made, but that’s because Foster’s contract does not include a separate severance package. Foster also received $12,000 in relocation expenses and $1,000 to conduct transition meetings with former Superintendent Keith Dixon.
Foster was previously superintendent for the K-8 Prairie-Hills school district in Markham, Ill., 20 miles south of Chicago.
The investigation is being conducted by the Minneapolis law firm Ratwik, Roszak and Maloney, which represents the district.