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Richland 44 teacher who pushed for charter school in Moorhead resigns

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Newly hired Richland 44 Superintendent Dean Koppelman reads the resignation letter submitted by social studies teacher Ben Hannasch on Thursday, May 17. Hannasch accepted a position with Northern Cass after attempting to establish a charter school in Moorhead. Kim Hyatt / Forum News Service2 / 2

COLFAX, N.D. – The Richland 44 School Board accepted another resignation on Thursday, May 17, which was the first meeting led by a new superintendent hired after allegations of the so- called “rape game” surfaced at the start of the year.

Superintendent Dean Koppelman, formerly of Valley City Public Schools, read the resignation letter submitted to the board by Ben Hannasch, librarian and social studies teacher.

Hannasch stated in his letter that he had accepted a new position with Northern Cass School.

The resignation comes in the wake of reports that he was behind efforts to form a charter school in Moorhead with former Richland 44 Superintendent Tim Godfrey, who remains on paid administrative leave. They are no longer pursuing the charter school.

Hannasch did not respond to The Forum’s request for comment.

The charter school application listed Godfrey as the chair of the planned project-based middle school. Hannasch was planning on serving on the charter board along with three other Richland teachers: Jackie Becker, Tiffany Carlson and Mark Aamold.

Godfrey was placed on leave after the Richland County Sheriff's Office opened an investigation into allegations of sexual assault and hazing among teenage boys at the school. Around the same time as Godfrey’s resignation, high school principal Bruce Anderson announced he was retiring and athletic director and football coach John Freeman left without explanation.

Along with the resignation from Hannasch, fourth-grade teacher Megan Margerum, who has been with the district for nine years, resigned to take a job opportunity with Northern Cass.

Job postings for a social studies and fourth-grade teacher will go out Friday, Koppelman said. The district is also looking to fill the positions of athletic director, football coach and technology coordinator.

Koppelman, whose first day at Richland was May 1, said he would look for a new high school principal as well.

“I have no reservations whatsoever about our district moving on,” he said. “Good things will come to Richland School.”

The superintendent hopes to meet with all parents in the junior and senior high school by the last day of school next Friday.

Kim Hyatt

Kim Hyatt is a reporter with The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and a 2014 graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth. She started her newspaper career at the Owatonna People’s Press covering arts and education. In 2016, she received Minnesota Newspaper Association's Dave Pyle New Journalist Award and later that year she joined The Forum newsroom.

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