The Inver Grove Heights district has agreed to a recount in the school board race after losing candidate Bill Klein questioned the results.
Klein believes an error with Dakota County's new voting machines casts doubt on the validity of the Nov. 3 outcome. When the county first put election results online, it appeared Klein won a seat by 35 votes, Klein said. But the next morning, both the county and the secretary of state websites reported that he lost by 188 votes, Klein said.
"A red flag went off in my mind," Klein said. "Here I'm winning the night before, and all of a sudden I'm losing big the next day."
Klein called the county and was told that a coding error had given votes to him by mistake Tuesday night. The error had been fixed by the next day, county officials said.
But Klein questioned the tally and asked the superintendent for a recount.
"If I got 308 votes, [then] I got 308 votes," Klein said. "But if it turns out that it's a whole different ballgame, then that's only fair, isn't it?"
Because of the confusion, the district is waiving the fee that usually applies when a candidate asks for a recount, said George Fairbanks, a district spokesman.
The machines are new this year and weren't tested before they were used, Fairbanks said.
Klein served on the Inver Grove Heights City Council for 20 years and has run for county commissioner.
"It's just, I want to see if that's what happened, if there was a code problem — and if it changes the outcome," he said.
MPS board wrong to stop speakers, attorney says
Members of the public were stopped from speaking at a recent school board meeting if they mentioned an employee by name or criticized interim Superintendent Michael Goar. Now district officials say they were wrong to cut off the criticism.
"The understanding became that you couldn't say a name, but that was not right," said the district's attorney, Amy Moore.
At Tuesday's meeting, several teachers and staff members signed up to speak against a recent reorganization of the district's English Language Learning department, including the decision to get rid of the department's director, Jana Hilleren. When a staff member speaking to the board mentioned Hilleren, Board Chairwoman Jenny Arneson stopped her from continuing.
Another parent was frustrated with how the district handled turmoil at a contract school that serves a large number of Somali students. The parent said she was shocked by the way Goar had made a decision to take over the school. She called him "unethical and reckless" but was told "you can't talk about people."
Yet, when another parent got up to praise Goar for his decision, that person was not stopped.
Several staff and teachers wrote to Board Member Josh Reimnitz complaining about the situation.
Reimnitz apologized "for the confusion" in an e-mail response to the district staff. This is "not a conspiracy to quash your voices," he said, but rather an attempt to avoid legal trouble.