Fargo School Board candidates share their views on Gandhi's decision to not adhere to a new state law

(Fargo, ND) – School board candidates in Fargo have differing views when it comes to supporting Superintendent Rupak Gandhi’s decision earlier this year to not adhere to a new North Dakota state law requiring school districts to inform parents how their children identify while at school.

The views were expressed Tuesday night in a debate hosted by WDAY and WZFG Radio, moderated by news reporters Ty Schonert and Tom Tucker.

Candidate Ryan Dodd says he supports Gandhi’s decision.

“I think we need to do what we can to make these marginalized groups of kids feel included,” he said. “I think the legislation did the opposite of that.”

Seth Holden, one of two incumbents running for reelection, said he also agreed with Gandhi’s decision.

“We need to be a district that puts the humanity of our students over state legislation,” he said. “State legislation takes a back seat to federal law, and that is the country that we live in.”

Holden said the district needs to make sure the students “feel welcomed and safe in our schools,” saying he has had conversations with students who are pleased to be going to school “in a district where they feel supported.”

Allie Ollenburger said that, while she supports LGBTQ populations, she disagreed with the stance taken by Gandhi.

“The law is the law,” she said. “Whether you like the law or you dislike the law, there’s right ways to go about things and wrong ways to go about things.”

Ollenburger said parents need to be involved, and she’s concerned with Gandhi saying he would willingly break the law.

Dawn Morgan said she supports Gandhi in his decision.

“I know what kids are like,” she said. “They change their ideas and their identities on a daily basis. You never know what a kid is going to be the next day.”

John Campbell also supports Gandhi’s decision.

“Humanity and dignity, our legislators don’t get to dictate what that looks like,” he said. “Our students, again, are in an atmosphere of learning and creativity.”

Paul Mohror said he’s not in agreement with Gandhi’s decision.

“You don’t get to pick and choose,” he said.

He said parents ‘need to know.’

“It shouldn’t be optional for a parent to not know,” Mohror said.

Nikkie Gullickson said she supports Gandhi’s decision.

“Federal law overrides state law,” she said. “This is farther reaching than simply a decision made in a school district. We have kids dying because they are not being recognized.”

Gullickson calls it ‘basic human rights.’

Kristin Nelson also supports Gandhi’s decision.

“We know how going to public school can make someone feel who is just a little bit different,” she said.

She said parents who aren’t supportive at home are one of the reasons “is not telling that parent for a very good reason.”

Jason Nelson said he supports all students within the Fargo Public School District, but disagrees with Gandhi.

“I would have taken a different approach,” he said.

Nine candidates are vying for four spots on the Fargo School Board in the June 11 election.

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