On Monday, Oct. 9, the Prairie Hills USD No. 113 Attorney Chad Tenpenny was present during the USD 113 Board of Education meeting in Axtell. During the meeting, Tenpenny shared some information with the board regarding land transfers and mediation.
After letting the board know about the hearing that occurred on Tuesday, Oct. 10, at the State Capitol regarding attendance center closures and school district disorganization, Tenpenny told the board that Nemaha Central USD No. 115, Jackson Heights USD No. 335 and Vermillion USD No. 380 have filed three separate petitions with the Kansas State Board of Education for mediation regarding the land and requested funds.
Tenpenny said a mediator from Topeka was appointed on Monday, Oct. 9. The mediator’s name is Larry Rute, who is a partner and co-founder of Associates in Dispute Resolution, LLC, according to the business’ website – www.adrmediate.com.
While Tenpenny is awaiting details about the schedule for mediation and the rules involved in this process, a recent update was made by Superintendent Evans on the USD 113 FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page regarding mediation. The question and answer are written below:
“The mediator has been chosen for the petition to move forward. Can you outline next steps and what constituents can expect or do to ensure their views are heard and taken into consideration?”
“One of the first jobs of the mediator is to establish ground rules. One of the rules in this situation is that the offers and discussions during mediation are to remain confidential. We will be mediating with one school district at a time, although it may be possible to meet with more than one in a day. The mediator is not a decision-maker. He is not to take sides. His role is to facilitate the discussion in an attempt to reach a resolution. One of the concerns that USD 113 representatives have is how do all parties involved identify accurate data? There’s been much discussion about the accuracy of information and this is an area that will need consideration for all involved.
“Next steps: Prepare for mediation. Sift through the emotions and try to identify the main issues. Gather information (and more information!) to support positions. Continue to work to understand the mediation process.
“What can constituents do? Continue to communicate with USD 113 Board Members. Find like-minded community individuals and work to communicate your thoughts and perceptions with others. Register to vote and provide support to candidates that share your beliefs. Become engaged in the process.
“Our goal is to reach a settlement in mediation, but we need to continue to prepare for hearing(s) with the Kansas State Board of Education. Although it is not our desire, there is the possibility that a reasonable mediation-based solution may not be attainable.”
Editor’s Note: As of 3 p.m. Monday, Oct. 16, Attorney Tenpenny has not yet received a schedule for mediation.