PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Governor Kristi Noem has decided against reappointing Jacqueline Sly of Rapid City to the South Dakota Board of Education Standards and chose Richard Meyer of Rapid City as the replacement.
That development came to public light Friday during the board’s meeting in Rapid City. There wasn’t any public announcement.
Sly, a retired special-education teacher and former legislator, was the board’s president prior to the removal. Vice president Becky Guffin conducted the meeting Friday. She is superintendent of the Aberdeen school district.
Meyer, a dentist, attended the meeting. He abstained from voting on several sets of updated standards for fine arts and for career and technical education.
Meyer resigned last year from a state workgroup that had proposed new standards for social studies. He expressed support for the governor. The state Department of Education subsequently removed some references to Native Americans from the proposal without notifying workgroup members. Noem eventually scrapped the entire proposal.
In the past year, Noem has used executive orders and legislation to target critical-race theory in South Dakota’s K-12 schools and public higher-education system. Her April 5, 2022, executive order directed the state Department of Education to take various steps to ensure that the department and public schools don’t promote “inherently divisive concepts.”
The governor recently named a new, smaller panel chaired by her chief of staff to propose standards for social studies. The group met in private May 4.
The state board will hold a series of four public hearings after the new group presents its official proposal. The governor appoints the seven board members who serve four-year terms. The board oversees K-12 education in South Dakota.
The previous governor, Dennis Daugaard, appointed Sly to the board. Her first term expired December 31, 2021. She continued to serve after that date passed. State law provides a governor 120 days to reappoint or appoint a replacement. One of Noem’s staff telephoned Sly on April 29 to tell her she wouldn’t be reappointed.
Sly, contacted by telephone Friday, said she was “thankful” to have spent more than 50 years in education as a teacher, legislator and board member. She wished the board luck going forward. She said the governor had followed the law.
KELOLAND News has requested a comment from the governor about the decision.
State Education Secretary Tiffany Sanderson said the social-studies group will meet several more times.
“They are on track to come forward with public comments in August,” Sanderson told the state board Friday. The board would move forward with its hearings after that.
Sly was still listed Friday morning as a board member and its president on the state boards and commissions public website.