Students show support for Clausen

District 911 School Board
Cambridge-Isanti High School students held signs in support of Principal Mitch Clausen during the District 911 board meeting Feb. 24. Clausen has been on paid administrative leave since July 2010 stemming from his three-hour absence on June 16 during a Model Schools Conference held June 14-17 in Orlando, Fla. Earlier that afternoon, around 200 students also gathered at Clausen’s home near the high school to show their support for the principal.

The Cambridge-Isanti School Board heard a presentation on district improvement efforts regarding the Rigor, Relevance and Relationship framework during the board meeting Thursday, Feb. 24.

Director of Teaching and Learning Susan Burris, highlighted the reasons behind the district pursing the RRR framework. The RRR framework was developed and supported by the International Center for Leadership in Eduction, and was implemented by the district in 2009.

The 2009-10 school year was spent on the planning of the RRR framework, and the next three years are spent on K-12 implementation. School board members, the district executive team and administrative team, instructional leaders within the district, teacher leaders, parents and community members, were all involved in the process regarding the RRR framework.

The district has sent principals and leadership teams to Model School Conferences in San Diego, New Orleans, and most recently to Orlanda, Fla. in June 2010 to pursue the RRR framework.

Funding sources for the RRR framework have included stimulus funds; funds set aside due to consequences with the district’s AYP status; and funds through district staff development.

Burris explained the RRR framework consists of eight components of excellence:

• Embrace a common vision and goals

• Inform decisions through data systems

• Empower leadership teams to take action and innovate

• Clarify student expectations

• Adopt effective instructional practices-shift from teaching to learning

• Address organizational structures

• Monitor progress/improve support systems

• Refine process on an ongoing basis

Burris said each school’s leadership teams decide how to implement the RRR framework.

“The leadership teams make decisions best based on the culture of the building,” Burris noted.


Burris said progress is monitored on the RRR framework monthly though district improvement team meetings.

“I can feel this moving forward,” Burris said. “Every building is doing this in its own fashion, with its own culture, but is moving in the same direction. I’m very excited when I leave these meetings.”

Burris said she is excited about what she has seen in the schools so far, but the process takes time.

“This is hard work, and will take three to five years to fully implement,” Burris noted.

Burris noted the programs and activities Tim Truebenbach highlighted at the Isanti Middle School and Minnesota Center during the school board showcase, are great examples of the positive elements taking place in the district.

She said positive activities regarding the framework are happening in all the schools.

Truebenbach said the schools are focusing on the 212 degrees concept, which means “even one degree of effort can make a difference.”

Ann Johnson, academic coach at IMS, said the school is committed to improving math and reading skills. Johnson also touched on the “X,” which is an opportunity for free tutoring after school to improve math and/or reading skills.

“All of the things we’re doing is to help keep kids focused on just one more little thing they need to do to turn up the heat just one degree,” she said.

Truebenbach said he’s excited about the activities taking place in the schools.

“I’ve been so impressed this year, with all the different teams,” Truebenbach said. “When I’m asked to describe the staff to people I say we have an all-star team, and we are starting to believe it.”

Arbitration update

An update on the arbitration regarding high school principal Mitch Clausen had been scheduled during the open part of the board meeting, but at the beginning of the meeting during the approval of the agenda, the board voted to have the update done in a closed session.

Clausen was placed on paid administrative leave July 13, 2010 as a result of Clausen’s three-hour absence on June 16 during a Model Schools Conference held June 14-17 in Orlando, Fla.

A contingent of students attended the board meeting, and held signs in support of Clausen.

Around 9:15 a.m., right before the board was going to go into closed session, Board Member Lynn Wedlund asked the board if they were going to give the students an opportunity to speak.

After discussion, it was decided the board would let the students come in and be acknowledged. The board told the students in order to speak before the board, they need to get on the agenda ahead of time. They directed the students to contact the district office to be placed on the agenda if they wish to address the board.

Earlier in the afternoon of Feb. 24, around 200 students left school and held a rally outside Clausen’s home near the high school. Students held signs in support of Clausen, indicating they want him back at the high school.