Assault Charges Dropped Against Superintendent Kirsten Baesler


I’m not surprised. Proving guilt in court beyond a reasonable doubt is hard.

A simple assault charge against State Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler has been dismissed.

Baesler had been charged in Bismarck Municipal Court after a February 15th incident.

City attorney Paul Fraase says the city could not prove its case.

The witnesses present during the altercation could testify that they saw Kirsten Baesler throw objects in the direction of her fiance, but they could not testify that they saw any of the objects hit her fiance, according to Fraase.

Baesler’s fiance Todd Tschosik reportedly had a bleeding wound on his head which he alleged was from something Baesler threw at him. The problem is, it can’t be proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Baesler really caused the wound, especially when it’s clear from their tumultuous past relationship that Tschosik would have reason to lie.

So the charges are dropped. The Grand Forks Herald has more.

The remaining question is what this means for the careers of both Tschosik, who is  teacher in the Bismarck Public School System, and Baesler. The state Standards and Practices Board, which oversees teacher licensing, had both Baesler and Tschosik on the agenda of their most recent meeting. It’s hard to imagine them acting against Baesler at this point what with these charges dropped, and I can’t see how they can use the report of Tschosik choking Baesler in Florida given that charges there were never filed, but Tschosik has a much more lengthy history of problems including abandoning a classroom at least twice.

Also in question is Baesler’s political future. An arrest on her record, even with no conviction, is a political liability at the best of times. Couple that with heated opposition to Baesler from the anti-Common Core faction of the Republican party and it’s going to be tough sledding for her ahead.

Plus, I still think Baesler needs to answer some hard questions about her duty to report her problems with Tschosik. She has alluded to a history of violence between herself and Tschosik. While she wasn’t in a position to act directly, what duty did she have to report him to the proper education authorities?

So far the evidence is that Baesler did nothing to report Tschosik’s troubling behavior (I confirmed that with the Superintendent of Bismarck Public Schools), which allowed him to continue to be in charge of classrooms full of kids (when he showed up for work). At the very least, that’s bad judgment on Baesler’s part.

I’d be very surprised if Baesler wasn’t challenged for the NDGOP nomination for the 2016 cycle, if she runs again. And I’d be similarly surprised if Democrats weren’t ready with a very credible, and very well-financed challenger in the general election.

In fact, I’d be surprised if Baesler wasn’t getting at least some pressure from Republicans to step aside at the end of her term rather than run for re-election.