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Outdated Nevis policy on vehicle use results in 'letter of deficiency'

The Nevis School Board suspended use of all district motor vehicles for personal use by employees Monday evening and will draft a "letter of deficiency" to be placed in superintendent Steve Rassier's file.

Board chair Ed Becker, in making the motion, cited the deficiency as "lack of an up-to-date policy specific to 902."

The existing policy allows community use of school facilities and equipment as long as it doesn't interfere with use for school purposes.

But attorney John Valen reported this does not include automobiles. "The statute is very clear in stating that a local government vehicle may be used only for authorized local government business," he wrote in a memo to Rassier.

The issue stems from an incident in August when Rassier was seen using a school vehicle in southern Minnesota.

The son of former bookkeeper Betsy Anderson questioned the legality of personal use of the vehicle.

Anderson was placed on leave and subsequently resigned, accepting a negotiated settlement from the district. She agreed not to sue and discharged the district from all liability.

Rassier has maintained the settlement did not stem from the vehicle incident.

Anderson attended Monday's meeting and indicated she may be a write-in candidate for school board in the November election.

"Obviously, the policy conflicted with state law," Rassier told the board. "It is clear we need to come into compliance."

"Ignorance of the law is no excuse," said Arnold Leshovsky, who was also attending the meeting. "What we're talking about is lack of good judgment."