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Mid-Central Educational Cooperative to Dissolve June 2017

It appears that Scott Westerhuis didn’t just kill his family and himself. He also killed Mid-Central Educational Cooperative:

The 13 school districts that make up Mid Central Educational Cooperative in Platte have voted to dissolve the organization. Board members voted at their last meeting, April 14, to dissolve Mid Central effective June 2017.

The school districts tell KELOLAND News that the organization could not survive the scandal that rocked the educational co-op. Board members say without the support of the South Dakota Department of Education, it’s just not possible for Mid Central to continue to operate. The state department pulled all of its contracts and grants from Mid Central in the months following the Westerhuis tragedy [Angela Kennecke, “Schools Vote to Dissolve Mid-Central Co-Op,” KELO-TV, 2016.04.22].

No word yet on whether Mid-Central will bother to hire a new executive director or if they’ll just let their interim director Bob Krietlow ride this horse over the cliff. Mid-Central has already axed half of its staff given the impending loss of state funding. The other half will be looking for new jobs by next spring.

Perhaps the big question now is whether any of the Department of Education officials in Pierre who let Mid-Central remained silent about Mid-Central’s corruption for six years or more will join those Platte folks on the unemployment line.


  1. rsterling 2016-04-23

    Its BS about the coop not being able to financially support itself without the corrupt $$ coming from the State Dept. of Ed. This and the other educational coops were formed by siphoning money from the individuals schools. They were formed for the purpose of providing support for special education programs. This one expanded as a result of the corrupt good ole boy political system in the state. The closure of this place is good news for South Dakota.

  2. Roger Cornelius 2016-04-23

    MCEC employees and consultants had better start stuffing their pockets with as much cash as possible.

  3. Mark Winegar 2016-04-23

    No Cory. I wouldn’t anticipate any significant change in government incompetency and corruption until Democrats take control of state government and the anti-corruption act restrains campaign funding, establishes the Ethics Commission, and the revolving door to lobbying.

  4. grudznick 2016-04-23

    Which Dakota are you warning, Mr. Mike, from Iowa? The more barren, rectangular Dakota is listening as well.

  5. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-04-23

    Roger, I don’t think there’s any cash left for them to stuff. I suspect that Westerhuis, Phelps, and friends burned up all the spare cash.

    Mark, you’re right: if we want improvement, we have to do it ourselves at the polls. Vote, everybody!

  6. Roger Cornelius 2016-04-23

    You’re probably right about the cash, but they better inventory and nail down all the office equipment and computers.

  7. mike from iowa 2016-04-24

    Burned up all the spare cash-was that intended as a pun?

  8. moof 2016-04-24

    quit worring about whats left at mcec , and start worring about Melody Schopp and her incompetent nature, if this was a business and not a gov issue she would have been fired… This is not a bottom up problem start at the top and work your way back down…

  9. Lee Schoenbeck 2016-04-24

    Your one poster, I believe , was correct about the special ed Genisis of these entities, but beyond that is pretty sure people are letting their political hatred miss some big things. You might want to look into how this coop was an innovative leader on distance learning. GEAR UP is a tragedy. Killing a tool to help people learn is also a tragedy

  10. Roger Cornelius 2016-04-24

    The tragedy of MCEC and Gear Up is that Native Americans were grossly cheated out of what should have been a valuable educational experience.

  11. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-04-25

    Lee, do you really think the state will let the distance learning program managed by MCEC disappear? Won’t they spend MCEC’s remaining year transferring assets and responsibilities fully to Northern’s e-learning center? The dissolution of the Mid-Central at this point really could be cosmetic: the member schools shed a forever tainted brand name, reorganize the special ed functions into a new co-op or into existing co-ops, and life goes on pretty much as before for most people involved.

  12. oldguy7850 2016-04-25

    I can’t believe Schopp has not been fired over this.

  13. Jackie Jessop Rising 2016-04-25


    I have the same feeling. This whole mess has been going on on her watch, yet she has retained her job. One legislator called for her resignation (Lance Russell, I think), but nothing more came of that.

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