In the wake of Mary Romansky’s surprise resignation from the Shakopee school board, e-mails obtained by the Star Tribune appear to confirm her contention that she felt pressured into leaving the board.
Romansky, 61, had planned to finish her term and retire at the end of the year, but said she changed her mind after an uncomfortable conversation with Board Chairman Scott Swanson.
In a one-on-one meeting last month, Swanson told her of his own concerns and those of fellow board members about her level of engagement on the board.
She said the discussion led her to send her colleagues an eight-word e-mail saying that she was leaving the board, without giving a reason why.
In response, Swanson wrote: “I respect your decision. Thank you for your message and for 20 years of selfless service to the district.”
Romansky signed off with the reply, “You gave me no choice.”
“I’m sorry you feel that way,” Swanson said, according to e-mails obtained through a public records request. “The choice is, has and will always be yours.”
The vacancy comes at a time of transition for the seven-member board, which is attempting to regain public trust amid budget woes. Board members so far have agreed that Romansky’s seat should be filled by appointment before the fall election.
Swanson said questions have swirled around Romansky’s work since 2015, when she was hospitalized with a brain bleed. He said he attempted to delicately broach the subject last month after she’d reached her 20-year milestone with the Shakopee school district.
“It was starting to be felt across the board,” he said during a recent Star Tribune interview. “The conversation was not about retirement, it was about re-engagement. I made it clear — your fellow board members need you.”
Romansky said she felt that was unfair, and later defended her attendance record and her mental health.
“I speak funny, but I remember everything,” she said.
Romansky, a U.S. Army veteran and former board chairwoman, founded the nonprofit Good to Go Kids, which provides food and graduation photos to students who can’t afford them. During her board tenure, she championed policy and communication efforts and coined the district’s tagline “Education Forward.”
Board Member Shawn Hallett praised Romansky for her institutional knowledge and passion for service.
“She deserves nothing but commendation,” Hallett said.