Two top District 833 officials resign

  • Updated: April 19, 2014 - 6:59 PM

Two top South Washington County Schools officials resigned last month, without an explanation.

District 833 officials also were mum on the departures of Keith Ryskoski, assistant superintendent of secondary education, and Dave Bernhardson, assistant superintendent of elementary education, which were announced at a March 20 school board meeting. Both men will serve out the rest of the fiscal school year, which ends on June 30, according to the district.

Ryskoski came to the district in 2010 from Stillwater, where he had served as schools superintendent for five years.

Bernhardson previously served as District 833’s special projects manager. His name recently surfaced as a candidate for the vacant superintendent post in Inver Grove Heights, according to published reports.

“Their efforts on behalf of the students, staff, parents and community members of South Washington County Schools are appreciated,” school officials said in a statement on the district’s website. “Both leaders are looking forward to new opportunities and requested a simple announcement so they could continue to focus on serving the students in our district as they complete the school year.”

They declined to comment further on the matter.

The past few weeks have brought several high-profile departures for the South Washington County school district.

At the board’s April 10 meeting, longtime board member Jim Gelbmann announced his intention to resign at the end of the school year, citing a “demanding work schedule” and worsening health.

Forest Lake

New special education chief named in district

A longtime Forest Lake Area Schools administrator has been named the school district’s new special education director.

The District 831 school board, in a unanimous vote, named Kelly Lessman director at its April 3 meeting. Lessman is currently the principal of the Area Learning Center (ALC) and Central Montessori Elementary School.

She will start her new position on July 1.

Lessman will succeed departing director Deb Wall, who intends to retire at the end of the school year.

The appointment is the latest stop in Lessman’s long tenure in the Forest Lake Special Education Department, district officials said. She started with the district in 2001, as a speech pathologist, and later became named its education services administrator. Since 2008, she has overseen the STEP program, which provides “educational services to young adults from ages 18 to 21 who have various types of physical or cognitive disabilities,” according to a district news release.

“For the past two and a half years, I have had the privilege of working with a variety of students and staff of many different ages and backgrounds,” Lessman said in the release, of her tenure as principal of the ALC and Central Montessori. “Being a director of special education has been a goal of mine since I was a college student. It is an amazing opportunity to stay in the Forest Lake Area School District and to continue to support the staff, students and families of this community.”

District officials said a search will be conducted to find Lessman’s replacement.

Libor Jany

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