NOTE TO READERS: This story was updated Friday night and Sunday morning to reflect that the governor’s office hasn’t yet responded to a KELOLAND News question about the change.
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; if a new person hasn’t been chosen after 120 days, the law says the appointee is reappointed.
Sly meanwhile had been re-selected as the board’s chairman for another year. She presided over several meetings. Then one of Noem’s staff telephoned Sly on Friday, 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. That email was at 12:49 p.m. Friday. A reminder was sent at 6:20 p.m. Friday. As of Sunday morning, there was no response.
State Education Secretary Tiffany Sanderson told the state board Friday that the social-studies group will meet several more times.
“They are on track to come forward with public comments in August,” she said. The board would move forward with its hearings after that.
Sly, a Republican like Noem, served eight years in the state House of Representatives and rose to chair the House Education Committee. She served on the Blue Ribbon task force that recommended increases in teacher salaries; the Legislature raised the state sales tax in 2016 to fund the raises and provide property tax relief. Unable to seek election to a fifth consecutive term in the House in 2016 because of term limits, she challenged then-state Senator Phil Jensen, R-Rapid City, and lost in the 2016 Republican primary.
Sly was still listed Friday morning as a board member and its president on the state boards and commissions public website. By Friday night, Rich Kamp Meyer of Rapid City was listed. However, the website as of Sunday morning still carried the December 31, 2021, date marking the end of Sly’s term.