The creation of a temporary board to oversee Northern Cheyenne Tribal Schools is an attempt to make sure the system is accountable and functioning properly, the tribe's top official said Sunday.
"We're trying to straighten things out, resolve these long-standing problems and hopefully improve the school," said President Eugene Little Coyote.
Last month, the tribal council approved an ordinance that listed concerns about the performance of the school board, financial issues and a "consistently high number of personal grievances."
The council voted to essentially vacate and nullify the current school board and appoint an "ad hoc" school board to oversee the schools.
Little Coyote said he and the council are taking similar measures with other tribal programs as part of his newly elected administration.
"This is part of following through on our pledge for change and accountability," he said.
Harlan Krein, superintendent of Northern Cheyenne Tribal Schools, submitted his resignation after the ad hoc board was formed, saying it created confusion by having an elected school board and the ad hoc board.
Little Coyote said he was disturbed by a claim in Krein's resignation letter that the situation was unethical and unprofessional. Efforts by the council to rectify alleged problems in the school system are just the opposite of Krein's suggestion, Little Coyote said.
Some of the problems with the schools are two years old and need to be dealt with, he said.
"If we hadn't done this at all, our constituency demanding change for the better would have been highly disappointed in us," Little Coyote said.
The tribal council, which administers federal programs on the reservation, has the authority to create ad hoc boards to review how any of its programs are carried out, Little Coyote said.
Some members of the tribal council wanted to form an ad hoc committee in the past to oversee the school but the measures never passed. The ordinance approved by the tribal council Feb. 21 allows the newly formed board to oversee the school for 60 days so it can try to remedy any problems.
"This is just a temporary thing," Little Coyote said.
When the process is finished, the school board of trustees n which received new members from an election held last month n will take over.
"If we do it this way, they can inherit a clean slate," he said.