The Henton Headlines: October 7, 2021

October 7, 2021
Here’s the scoop for the week

Leading with this, because your Leadership Matters:

“Dignity and decency are on the line in our public square. See yourself as someone who can combat the rage, division, and fear. With your energy, we can shift the tide. With our words, our deeds, and our voices, be a light. Our country and our world needs you. Let’s go.” - Maria Shriver

Justice Department announces new effort to combat threats against school staff and school leaders:

In response to the growing number of threats to school officials, Attorney General Merrick Garland has ordered the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Offices to meet within 30 days to develop strategies to address this disturbing trend. See more here: The last paragraph also contains a link to report threats in our nation’s public schools

SNL captures recent school board meetings all in one sketch!

If you haven’t yet watched this, it aired on Saturday night or later on social media, here you go!

School Board Meeting - SNL

*Alert: Latest TikTok dangerous and inappropriate school challenges:

Many school districts across the nation, and in Minnesota, experienced theft and vandalism particularly in bathrooms during the month of September when the TikTok challenge, “Devious Licks” encouraged students to damage school property, or steal from schools. Here is the latest list of TikTok challenges and unfortunately a neighboring state reportedly had two staff members hit last week by students.

  • October: Smack a staff member on the backside.
  • November: Kiss your friend’s girlfriend at school.
  • December: Deck the halls and show your b****.
  • January: Jab a breast.
  • February: Mess up school signs.
  • March: Make a mess in the courtyard or cafeteria.
  • April: Grab some “eggs” (another theft challenge).
  • May: Ditch Day.
  • June: Flip off the front office.

USDA waiver:

On September 15, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a waiver on fiscal action requirements in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and the School Breakfast Program (SBP) where there is a supply chain disruption due to COVID–19.

Until June 30, 2022, providers will not be penalized for missing food components, missing production records or repeated violations involving milk type and vegetable subgroups. When determining whether this waiver is applicable during an administrative review, state agencies will consider all of the information school food authorities have available that illustrates that a COVID-19 supply chain disruption occurred. (Taken from Association of School Execs, ASE, notes September 29, 2021)

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The Henton Headlines: September 30, 2021

September 30, 2021
Here’s the scoop for the week

We learned, we laughed, we sang, and we planned! 

What a great Fall Conference in Duluth!  A huge thank you to the MASA staff for their dedication to the event, and to the MASA Board of Directors who were engaged and provided future direction for MASA. We are grateful for the roughly 200 in attendance along with our business partners and VIPs from the other education organizations.  

Finally, thank you Owatanna Superintendent Jeff Elstad and Duluth Superintendent John Magas for bringing choir members from the Duluth Public Schools who joined Jeff and led us in the opening song, “God Bless America.” It was truly a special moment.  I feel a tradition of sorts forming…

Staffing shortages reach crisis levels:

I have traveled quite a bit in the past two weeks and superintendents from the metro to greater MN have shared that the shortage of special education directors, teachers, paraprofessionals, custodians, substitute teachers, SLPs, school psychologists, special education teachers, bus drivers, nutrition services staff, and other people to work in our schools is at the “crisis” level. According to the state demographer this will be a protracted problem for at least the next decade.  

Let’s make it known to our elected officials and those at the state agencies that now is the time to act and to put in place a plan to bring much needed workers into our school systems. 

Leadership Matters:

“Trust doesn't develop from always doing the right thing. Trust comes from taking responsibility when we do the wrong thing.” - Simon Sinek

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The Henton Headlines: September 23, 2021

September 23, 2021
Here’s the scoop for the week

MASA Fall Conference in Duluth, September 26-28!

The MASA staff have been hard at work planning a great conference for members who are able to attend! There are many informative breakout sessions and general sessions planned. You can still register. Find information at

The Dale G. Jensen Classic Golf Tournament is on Sunday afternoon at the Nemadji Golf Course in Superior, Wisconsin. Thanks to all who have registered to play and support the mission of the MASA Foundation.

Ahead of the conference the MASA Board of Directors will meet and make decisions around a new continuous improvement plan with updated belief statements, the repairs needed to maintain the MASA building, my professional development goals for 2021-2022, and more. Information will follow.

Joint Statement on Equity signatories develop new Op-Ed customizable for your needs:

Soon there will be an Op-Ed released by the consortium of education organizations that released the Joint Statement on Equity. The piece will go to the media outlets that are joined together and willing to publish the same Op-Ed. This includes the papers in Fargo, many towns/cities in greater MN and the St. Paul Pioneer Press. If you would like the Op-Ed customized to your school district experience, there are communication staff on stand-by ready to adjust it to meet your needs/expectations. Look for the Op-Ed to be shared in the upcoming days. Until then, feel free to use the Joint Equity Statement I shared with you on September 13 and linked here with your constituents.

Also important to note is this statement by AASA/NSBA on the threatening situations many school districts are experiencing at board meetings and other school-sponsored events. It is worth the read and to note the support of the national organizations.

Want to have an impact at PELSB?

Here’s your chance! PELSB has established an Assessment and Accountability Work Group. Here is an application to be one of the eleven external stakeholders on the Work Group. Please consider applying.

Leadership Matters:

“You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us. And the world will live as one.” - John Lennon

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The Henton Headlines: September 16, 2021

September 16, 2021
Here’s the scoop for the week

School district runs for declining pupil aid not available until mid-October:

MDE has shared that the new declining pupil aid will be provided to school districts in two payouts. The first will likely be in mid-October and the second in January. The funding will improve from 28% to 48.5% for fiscal year 2021. This means the declining enrollment allowance will increase by $1,346.24 per declining pupil, from $1,838.76 to $3,185.00. This is good news! Look for more information to come in October. 

When will we know if teachers need to be vaccinated or submit to weekly testing?

Looks like once again, October is the month for this information to be released. An article by AASA sheds more light on the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate and the implications for MN which is one of the 26 states with an OSHA plan. This report provides even greater detail on OSHA’s jurisdiction over public schools.

Leadership Matters:

“It is not fair to ask of others what you are not willing to do yourself.” - Eleanor Roosevelt


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The Henton Headlines: September 9, 2021

September 9, 2021
Here’s the scoop for the week

September 11, 2021: Twenty years later and we will…

Screen Shot 2021-09-09 at 12.43.35 PM
On Saturday, as we mark the passing of 20 years, let us be reminded of the nearly 3000 people who lost their lives as a result of the attacks on the Twin Towers, the resiliency of our nation, and the “unbreakable spirit of New York” as depicted in the annual Tribute in Light.

A space for you to have conversations around equity and educational equity:

Watch for more information to come about an opportunity to attend a virtual meeting with Mr. Sebastian Witherspoon of Equity Alliance and Dr. Katie Pekel of the University of Minnesota around your equity efforts. The meetings will be free to members, held twice monthly in order to provide flexible scheduling and are referred to as “Educational Equity Power Hour Discussions.” The first Power Hour session will be held on September 14 from 8-9 am, and the second on September 22, from 1-2 pm. Registration information will be coming soon!

Leadership Matters:

“Leadership is based on a spiritual quality; the power to inspire, the power to inspire others to follow.” - Vince Lombardi

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The Henton Headlines September 2, 2021

September 2, 2021
Here’s the scoop for the week


Can school boards mandate mask wearing in schools?

Some of your school board members and you may be receiving communication from constituents and others questioning whether or not school boards have the legal authority to mandate masks in schools. It has come to my attention that some of the communication includes threats of litigation against individual school board members, the school district and individual superintendents. 

Messages suggesting litigation are concerning. There is a resource you will find helpful in reassuring your school board and others that the school board has the “general charge” of the district. I recommend referring to a recently released Q & A by MSBA that addresses this topic. Here is the link Discussion begins on the bottom of page 2. 

If after reading, you are still concerned about possible litigation, I recommend you contact your school district legal counsel for further advice. 

How can band-aids be used to teach fairness?

Here’s a quick video of one creative teacher who shares her effective lesson on fairness.

If you need a confidential resource, your MASA Professional Assistance Team, P.A.T., is eager to assist you!

I am pleased to inform you that the individuals listed below have agreed to serve on the P.A.T. for the 2021-2022 school year!  This resource is provided by the MASA Foundation and our members are grateful to have these confidential individuals to contact for expertise or advice as needed.

Joe Gothard
St. Paul School District
Cell: 651-587-2895
Office: 651-767-8152

Jerry Nesland
Cell: 218-640-0267
Office: 218-894-2439
Home: 218-385-3194
Patty Phillips
Cell: 651-357-0996
Jeff Olson
Cell: 507-340-0628
Home: 507-934-9195

Gary Prest
Cell: 612-202-4684
Office: 612-626-8647




Leadership Matters:

“Leaders know the importance of having someone in their lives who will unfailingly and fearlessly tell them the truth.”

Warren G. Bennis




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The Henton Headlines August 26, 2021

August 26, 2021
Here’s the scoop for the week

Have you consulted with your school district’s insurance company lately?

A recent article linked here suggests that school districts should share their opening of school year plans with their insurance companies. Liability issues may arise for school districts not following mandates/orders/directives by state agencies.

Keep in mind the only two mandates in Minnesota currently are to report positive COVID cases to MDH, and to require persons on your school district vehicles (Federal mandate) to wear masks.

The article is mainly focused on states where masks are mandated/not mandated and school districts are perhaps not following the mandates which may create liability issues.

Still, it may be prudent to touch base with your insurance company and to also ask about cyber security liability and your school district’s coverage.

“Tough Year, Resilient Leaders”:

We know that lessons have emerged – and continue to develop – as a result of the pandemic challenge. Our most important take-away: schools are up to the task. 

Please join your colleagues in person at the MASA Fall Conference, and explore what we learned, how we are different, and how we will experience our next normal in Minnesota public education.

Find participant registration here:

Leadership Matters:

A good leader is a person who takes a little more than his share of the blame and a little less than his share of the credit. - John C. Maxwell

And this...

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August 19, 2021
Here’s the scoop for the week

Shared responsibility for one another:

My one request this week…

Please take a moment before the week ends to reach out to one of your colleagues via phone, email, hand-written note, a method of your choice, but just do. 

Take my word for it, your contact will be worth more than you may ever know. Our colleagues need support.

Instill hope. We are resilient and together we will get through this pandemic and all its effects.  

Leadership Matters:

When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier. 

                                                                                                                        Roy E. Disney

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August 12, 2021
Here’s the scoop for the week

Recommendation on completing the provisional online learning application:

As of this morning, MDE reported that roughly 140 school districts and charter schools have applied to become provisional online learning providers. MDE has highly recommended that school districts should complete the provisional application even if they do not intend to offer online learning during 2021-2022.

In speaking with superintendents who have completed the provisional application, they have shared that it is a seven to ten-minute process to complete the application and that MDE has quick turned around approval of their application. I have heard of one school district having to make a correction to its application before receiving approval. If some districts are being denied approval, that has not come to my attention, and as most of you know, I am in a lot of meetings with superintendents! In other words, MDE is being very flexible during the approval process.

I recommend that you complete the provisional application so that you have the ability to provide online learning, even if at this time you have no plans to implement online learning. This may be a tool you will need for emergency situations. We have no way of knowing how many students and staff will become ill with the new variant/s, how many will quarantine due to close contacts and not be vaccinated, if whole grade levels will be in quarantine, and so on.  If you are provisionally approved to provide online instruction, you may be able to serve those students not onsite in this manner. 

As an aside, we are still waiting for homebound instruction guidance from MDE. 

With provisional approval you have a choice to offer online or not to offer that mode of instruction. You are not required to offer online instruction just because you have that approval. It is OK to let families know that your district sought provisional approval to offer online learning as an option only during emergency situations. There are many reasons you may not be able to offer online learning as a daily option, which of course includes staffing both online and in person instruction, funding and much more. 

Also notable:

  • Once you receive provisional approval you are not placed on the approved online providers list from the state.
  • The application is due by August 27. Here is a link to the form ​​program proposal and assurances form
  • You will be able to decide in late fall/early winter if you want to move forward with becoming a fully approved online provider as the provisional approval is only temporary for this school year.
  • The 30 day option still applies even if you have the provisional online approval.
  • There are many other excellent ways to provide online learning as an option that do not require provisional approval. For example, you could work with a Service Cooperative that is an approved online learning provider, join with another school district that is approved as an online provider to purchase those services for your district, align with another district/s to provide what used to be referred to as ITV-having one teacher in a district providing service digitally to students in other school districts, or share the approved online learning provider list from the state with your families who want that service that is not available in your district
  • Here is a helpful Q & A from MDE: Online and Blended Learning Options for 2021-22

Please let me know if there is any support I may provide you as the school year approaches. Last June we thought the light at the end of the tunnel was bright. Unfortunately, it has dimmed. Together we will get through this pandemic and all its effects on our profession and our personal lives. 

Leadership Matters:

It is not fair to ask of others what you are not willing to do yourself. 

Eleanor Roosevelt

Jerry Rice

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The Henton Headlines: August 5, 2021

August 5, 2021
Here’s the scoop for the week

It is worth remembering…

...that your email can be targeted for data requests. I am hearing from an increasing number of school leaders that report they have received data requests for their email around specific topics and words.  It is a good time of year to remind your staff that it is often best to pick up the phone and have conversations rather than putting something in writing that might later be requested.  Data requests can be extensive and costly, especially if you need to have a firm/someone redact private information. You are encouraged to contact your school district legal counsel should you receive a data request.

More information to come regarding homebound instruction and online learning:

During the MDE Back-to-School Conference on August 4, Commissioner Heather Mueller and Assistant Commissioner Stephanie Graff strongly recommended that all school districts apply for provisional approval to become an online learning provider. Should school districts opt not to complete the paperwork necessary to gain provisional approval, there are additional options for online learning, including one that utilizes homebound instruction.  Watch for more information to come from MDE about how homebound instruction might be helpful during the upcoming school year should students and staff need to be quarantined. 

Need assistance finding which MASA region contains your school district?

Here is a helpful link:

Leadership Matters:

“Today I will do what others won't, so tomorrow I can accomplish what others can't." 

Jerry Rice


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