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Jackley: Guericke Issued 17 Illegal Contracts to PAST Foundation, USD, Others

Angela Kennecke checks the court documents and find the state has submitted evidence against Dan Guericke, accused co-conspirator in the GEAR UP/Mid-Central scandal. The red-letter finding: 17 contracts worth $3.8 million signed in secret by Guericke, without approval by his Mid-Central Educational Cooperative board. Who got that illegal gravy?

  • PAST Foundation, three contracts, June 2012–September 2015, $1,576,962.
  • Brinda Kuhn, GEAR UP evaluator, four contracts, October 2009–September 2010, October 2012–September 2014, $308,365.
  • Rural Learning Center, one contract, October 2009–September 2010, $160,011.
  • University of South Dakota, three contracts, October 2011–September 2014, nearly $1 million.
  • American Indian Institute for Innovation, six contracts, October 2009–September 2010, October 2012–September 2015, three with no amounts specified, one for $266,172, two annual contracts giving co-indictee Stacy Phelps $130K for 270 days of work and Jay Roman $160K for 400 days of work.

Attorney General Marty Jackley presents these secret contracts to “show[] the jury the manner in which Defendant was running MCEC”—i.e., to show that Guericke was hiding his handouts from the board that was supposed to approve and supervise any use of those public dollars.

Not discussed in A.G. Jackley’s brief is the question of whether Mid-Central—or the South Dakota Department of Education, which directed to Mid-Central the GEAR UP funds disbursed in these seventeen contracts, or the federal Department of Education, which issued these public grants in the first place—can claw back these illegally disbursed funds from Kuhn, Phelps, Roman, PAST, and USD.

p.s.: Included in A.G. Jackley’s evidence packet is an e-mail thread involving Guericke, Phelps, Education Secretary Melody Schopp, and DOE director of finance Tami Darnall concerning graduation and college entrance rates for GEAR UP participants. The thread includes Darnall’s e-mail signature quote:

Tami Darnall, e-mail to Dan Guericke, 2015.08.30.
Tami Darnall, e-mail to Dan Guericke, 2015.08.30.

“She was unstoppable, not because she did not have failures or doubts, but because she continued on despite them.” So wrote Beau Taplin, a self-publishing Australian author with no idea who runs South Dakota’s Department of Education.


  1. grudznick 2016-10-04 21:20

    Failures and doubts but continued on?????

  2. Moses11 2016-10-04 21:25

    How come the Governor Doesn;t fire some of these heads of departments.

  3. grudznick 2016-10-04 21:49

    Are there other emails with literary quotes that seem to relate?

  4. BOHICA 2016-10-04 21:54

    …and Schopp stays…time for a change in administration and thought process in SD

  5. Roger Cornelius 2016-10-04 22:11

    Is the Past Foundation legitimate?

  6. Adam 2016-10-05 00:33

    I’m sure Jackley has looked at this closer than perhaps anyone, but I need to know for certain that the board who was supposed to approve and supervise the use of those public dollars wasn’t complicent with the under-the-table kick backs Guericke was receiving.

    I truly hope Jackley isn’t giving a pass to some Good Old Boys on that board.

  7. Kurt Evans 2016-10-05 01:42

    The South Dakota Innovation Lab began through a partnership involving the Mid-Central Educational Cooperative, Sanford Research, the South Dakota Department of Education and the Ohio-based PAST Foundation. There were initially four participating schools: South Central, Wessington Springs, Platte-Geddes and Armour.

    I worked under SDIL teachers as a distance education facilitator for the Wessington Springs school system during the 2013-2014 school year, and I had overwhelmingly, depressingly negative opinions of the whole scam—especially the PAST Foundation—long before I became aware of evidence that any of it was technically illegal. (It seems I have a knack for getting into the middle of controversies, sometimes by choice but often when I’m trying to do the exact opposite.)

    Kudos to Angela Kennecke, Cory Heidelberger and the attorney general’s office.

  8. Mark Winegar 2016-10-05 06:43

    Imagine what good might have been done with the $millions squandered.

  9. mike from iowa 2016-10-05 07:55

    WTF was the state’s top law enforcement officer doing while all these crimes were being committed?

    What was the wingnut lege and the guv doing?

    Prolly eating gravy taters with Grudz-who is from outer space- and learning to vote no and ignore crony crooked criminals.

  10. Rorschach 2016-10-05 08:09

    In addition to the unapproved multi-million dollar contracts, let’s not forget the contract that was run out to a farm to have a board member retroactively sign on behalf of a former Secretary of Education. There was a lot of taxpayer money being spent that was unapproved in one way or another.

  11. grudznick 2016-10-05 19:55

    Who ran a contract out to a farm to retrosign? That sounds almost criminal too.

  12. Timoteo 2016-10-06 09:30

    @grud: I think it was Guericke again. I read about it here on DFP back when MCEC was frequently in the news.

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