As I wrote earlier this week, the Common Core debate in North Dakota has become pretty ugly and while both sides of the issue share some blame, Superintendent of Public Schools Kirsten Baesler took responsibility for a member of her staff putting gas on the fire during an interview with me yesterday while I was guest hosting the Jay Thomas Show on WDAY.
Specifically, she apologized for the behavior of Department of Public Instruction Public Information Officer Dale Wetzel’s behavior during an interview on the Jay Thomas show this week (audio here) as well as emails Wetzel had been sending to lawmakers and members of the media attacking the credibility of Common Core critic Duke Pesta.
Pesta visited North Dakota this week, speaking at events in Bismarck and Fargo, and Wetzel appeared to be trying to undermine Pesta’s credibility ahead of those events, though both Wetzel and Baesler claim the emails sent from a non-public Gmail account were something he did on his own.
Baesler told me during the interview that she her office has a very specific review protocol for all communications and that Wetzel’s efforts fell outside of that protocol. When I asked her if the materials Wetzel had been sending – which claimed, among other things, that Pesta’s anti-Common Core efforts were just a money making scheme – would have been approved by her if she had seen them, she told me that she would not have.
I put in an open records request for the last 30 days of emails sent to or from the Gmail account Wetzel was using and I received just a handful of emails in response none of which revealed anything new.
Wetzel says he had just created the account on May 5th.