DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION
Created in 1863 (S. L. 1863, Ch. 41), the Superintendent of Public Instruction was appointed by the Dakota Territory Board of Education, which consisted of the Governor, Secretary, and Treasurer. The Superintendent of Public Instruction originally functioned as a school inspector and advisor to schools, but quickly acquired additional powers and duties. Legislation in 1867 made the Superintendent of Public Instruction responsible for promulgation of rules and regulations for management of school district libraries, review of appeals of County Superintendent of Schools decisions, recommendation of textbooks, collection of school statistics, and establishment of teacher's institutes. The office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction was made elective to a two-year term in 1875 (S. L. 1875, Ch. 40) and in 1879 it was made by gubernatorial appointment (S. L. 1879, Ch. 14). Legislation in 1879 also expanded the duties of the Superintendent to include certification of teachers. In 1887, the Superintendent of Public Instruction was empowered to decide all controversies or disputes under the school laws of the territory or the rules and regulations of the Territorial Board of Education (S. L. 1887, Ch. 47). A uniform system of schools was established in 1883 (S. L. 1883, Ch. 44). In addition to guaranteeing free public school education in the territory, the law also required every incorporated city or village to have a school board.
When North Dakota achieved statehood in 1889, the office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction was created by the Constitution, Superintendent of Public Instruction was made an elective office for a two-year term. The Superintendent of Public Instruction was the only state-wide office open to women until 1920. North Dakota has had five women serve as the Superintendent of Public Instruction. A 1913 law required that the Superintendent of Public instruction be elected on a no-party ballot (S. L. 1913, Ch. 153). At that time the Superintendent of Public Instruction had general responsibility for examination and certification of teachers, preparation of courses of study for public schools, prescription of regulations for teacher's institutes, and review of appeals against County Superintendent of Schools decisions.
From 1889-1911 the Superintendent of Public Instruction was made a member of the Board of Trustees of the North Dakota Academy of Science, the Deaf and Dumb School, Valley City State Normal School, and Mayville State Normal School (1889-1911). Between 1890 and 1913, some of the duties of the Superintendent of Public Instruction were shared with specialized boards. A State High School Board was created in 1895 (S. L. 1895, Ch. 53) consisting of the Governor, Superintendent of Public Instruction, and the president of the University of North Dakota. The State High School Board had responsibility for inspection and classification of high schools in the state. A State Board of Examiners, consisting of the Superintendent of Public Instruction and four gubernatorial appointees serving four-year terms, was created in 1911 to examine and certify teachers in the state (S. L. 1911, Ch. 40). Also in 1911 a State Agricultural and Training School Board was created to encourage and oversee establishment of county agricultural and training schools in North Dakota (S. L. 1911, Ch. 267). The State Agricultural and Training Board consisted of the president of the North Dakota Agricultural College, Superintendent of Public Instruction, and four farmers appointed by the Governor to serve staggered three-year terms. In 1911 (S. L. 1911, Ch. 9) a federal act was passed to study education in the United States and elsewhere and to present a report which would form the basis for unifying and stylizing the education system of secondary and institutions of higher learning. In response to the act a Department of Public Instruction Commission was formed and consisted of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, president of the University of North Dakota, president of Valley City State Normal School, the Lieutenant Governor, the speaker of the House of Representatives and one other member. The Commission was to report to the Governor in December of 1912.
The various functions of administration of public school education in North Dakota were consolidated in 1913 with creation of the State Board of Education (S. L. 1913, Ch. 149). Members of the State Board of Education included the Superintendent of Public Instruction, president of the University of North Dakota, president of the North Dakota Agricultural College, State Inspector of graded and rural schools, State High School Inspector, a State Normal School president designated by the Governor, an industrial school president designated by the Governor, a County Superintendent of Schools, and a male member not affiliated with the educational system. The gubernatorial appointees served staggered two-year terms. The function of the State Board of Education was to oversee the Department of Public Instruction through teacher certification, establishment of rules and regulations for public schools, apportionment of state aid to schools, and school inspections. The State Board of Education also assumed the duties of and eliminated the State High School Board, State Agricultural and Training School Board, and the State Board of Examiners. Like other public officials, the Superintendent has served on many boards, committees, and commissions in different capacities as reflected by societal changes. The Superintendent continues to have responsibility and duties for numerous boards, committees, and commissions.
In 1919, the Board of Administration assumed the duties of the State Board of Education (S. L. 1919, Ch. 71). However, an initiated measure approved by voters on November 2, 1920, gave the Superintendent of Public Instruction responsibility for "certification of teachers, standardization of schools, preparation for courses of study, and examinations for eighth grade and high school pupils”. In the years that followed the Superintendent of Public Instruction assumed a greater role and responsibility in administration of public and private schools educational programs in the state. Legislation in 1935 created free high school correspondence courses governed by the State Board of Public School Education (S. L. 1935, Ch. 257). Later the courses became a part of the Board of Administration and a director was appointed. The program name changed several times and was known as the High School Correspondence Study (1936), the Supervised High School Study Division (1944), and the Division of Supervised Correspondence Study (1960). In 1971 it became the Division of Independent Study and was placed within the Department of Public Instruction. Since 1989 the Superintendent (S. L. 1989, Ch. 199) has served as the director.
Prior to 1965 the responsibility of teacher certification was under the direction of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, and in 1965 a nine member Board was created and called the Teachers Professional Practices Commission, members were appointed by the Governor from names provided from a list of nominees submitted by the North Dakota Education Association. The goal of the Commission was to develop and revise professional codes and standards relating primarily to the issues of ethics and conduct and to investigate complaints against teachers. All formal complaints were sent to the Superintendent of Public Instruction (S. L. 1965, Ch. 139). In 1993 the Teachers’ Professional Practices Commission became the Educational Standards and Practices Board. The ESPB was authorized to supervise certification and set and approve standards for the teacher preparation program [NDCC 15-38-18]. The Governor appointed nine members to the ESPB for three-year terms. Legislation also expanded the certification duties of the ESPB and from within the ESPB a five-member board known as the Administrator’s Professional Practices Board was created. Authority was given to investigate complaints against not only teachers but also against school administrators. The Superintendent of Public Instruction was no longer a part of the complaint process (S. L. 1993, Ch. 171) and the Governor no longer filled vacancies from a list submitted by the North Dakota Education Association, the North Dakota Council of School Administrators, the North Dakota School Boards Association, and Deans of Colleges of Education (S. L. 1993, Ch. 3).
The Education Factfinding Commission has been in existence since 1969 and consists of three members: one appointed by the Superintendent of Public Instruction, one by the Governor, and one by the Attorney General, all for three-year terms. The function of the Education Factfinding Commission is to investigate conflicts and labor disputes between teachers and school administrators. Following investigations, the Commission makes non-binding recommendations for settling disputes.
In 1999 the members of the Board of Public School Education were appointed by the Governor and Superintendent of Public Instruction acted as executive director and secretary of the Board (S. L. 1999, Ch. 196). Since 1999 the State Board of Public School Education has been composed of the Superintendent and a representative from each of the six educational districts within the state. Additionally at least once a year the Superintendent of Public Instruction calls a meeting of the State Board of Public School Education, the Board of Higher Education, and the State Board for Career Education and Technology which was formerly the State Board for Vocational Education and Technical Education.
In 2001 the Superintendent distributed aid for special education programs, grants for technology programs, payments for limited English proficient students, provided services for displaced homemakers, aid for public libraries was made available, and appropriations for the School for the Blind (S. L. 2001, Ch. 13). A new section to the Century Code [NDCC 15.1-02] outlined the content needed for a report on school district employee compensation and included information on teachers and administration. The Superintendent was to compile and forward the report to Governor and chairman of the Legislative Council (S. L. 2001, Ch. 173). Legislation also allowed the Superintendent the option to lease unused property and buildings owned by the School for the Blind and the School for the Deaf (S. L. 2001, Ch. 501) and required the Superintendent to transfer “duplicative payments” into the state tuition fund (S. L. 2001, Ch. 174).
A legislative amendment in 2003 related to school district employee compensation reports and the information that was to be sent to the Superintendent (S. L. 2003, Ch. 145). Additional information had to be provided by the Superintendent to an interim committee on any updates to the No Child Left Behind Act (S. L. 2003, Ch. 146). A new section to [NDCC 15.1-02] was enacted allowing the Superintendent to adopt rules governing issuance of credentials for teachers and administrators (S. L. 2003, Ch. 147). For the purpose of accreditation the Superintendent could not establish teacher qualification requirements to exceed those already determined by the Education Standards and Practices Board (S. L. 2003, Ch. 157).
Early on the Superintendent reported on the condition of school districts and although content has undergone changes the report has consistently summarized information regarding school districts, all phases of education, and district finances. District superintendents submit an annual report to the Superintendent of Public Instruction who provides a summary of the information and compiles the written report. Before 2005 the report was biennial, however since the 2005 reports are submitted annually (S. L. 2005, Ch. 152).
In 2009 statewide longitudinal data system funding was approved (S. L. 2009, Ch. 49). Additional legislation expanded the longitudinal data system and the mandatory provisions required for the information system (S. L. 2011, Ch. 127). The Superintendent was required to conduct a study of Indian education issues and develop criteria for grant funding (S. L. 2011, Ch. 126). Other legislation required the Superintendent to adopt rules governing accreditation of public and non-public schools (S. L. 2011, Ch. 131) and to accept nominations for the teacher of the year award and develop and publish the criteria for nominees (S. L. 2011, Ch. 128).
In 2013 the Department under the direction of the Superintendent continues to expand delivery options in order to increase educational opportunities for all North Dakota citizens. Additionally to evaluate and communicate the educational policy and vision to all state residents and to serve as an advocate for adequate financial resources to support public education is the goal. The Superintendent is required to enforce all state statutes and federal regulations pertaining to the establishment and maintenance of public schools and related programs, and to supervise the School for the Deaf, the School for the Blind, and the North Dakota State Library. The Superintendent must be a qualified elector of the state, at least twenty-five years of age, holder of a teacher's certificate at the highest grade issued by the state, and elected as a no-party candidate. Headquarters for the Department are in Bismarck at the State Capitol.
1863 The Superintendent of Public Instruction is chosen by the Dakota Territory Board of Education as school inspector and advisor (T. L. 1863, Ch. 41).
1867 Added duties included school district libraries, management of rules and regulations, textbook recommendations, school statistics collection, set up of teacher institutes, and review appeals of decisions by County Superintendent of Schools.
1875 Legislation made the office of Superintendent an elective office with a two-year term (T. L. 1875, Ch. 40).
1879 The Superintendent of Public Instruction was appointed by the Territorial Governor with the consent of the Territorial Legislative Council to serve for two years and charged to certify teachers, a prescribed record of the acts, and faithfully and consciously labor to promote the interests of education in the Territory (T. L. 1879, Ch.14).
1883 A uniform system of free schools throughout Dakota Territory was to be established and maintained. Names of parties to be involved in carrying out this requirement were listed along with their duties (T. L. 1883, Ch. 44).
1887 Amended legislation allowed the Territorial Board of Education comprehensive legislation in order for Superintendent to settle all school controversies according to territorial laws, rules, and regulations (S. L. 1887, Ch. 47).
1889 The Superintendent of Public Instruction became an elective two-year office (Constitution 1889, Article III Section 82).
1890 The state adopted legislation requiring a uniform system of free education. At statehood (S. L. 1890, Ch. 62) the Superintendent was required to be twenty-five years of age at the time of election, a qualified voter of the state, to have a teaching certificate of the highest grade, and be a graduate of some reputable university, college, or normal school.
1893-1895 Laura J. Eisenhuth, a Democrat-Independent served as the first woman Superintendent of Public Instruction.
1895 Although terminated in 1911 a State High School Board was created to inspect and classify high schools (S. L. 1895, Ch. 53). Republican Emma F. Bates served as the second woman Superintendent of Public Instruction 1895-1897.
1907 The Superintendent of Public Instruction was to be age twenty-five and a state elector. Qualifications also included having a teacher’s certificate of the highest grade (S. L.1907, Ch. 95).
1911 A temporary Educational Commission was established to study the educational system for the purpose of unifying and systemizing the educational system of the state. The Commission included the secondary schools and higher institutions of learning and the Department of Public Instruction. Those included as members were listed in the session laws (S. L. 1911 Ch. 9). Legislation required establishing courses in agriculture, manual training, and domestic economy in school curricula (S. L. 1911, Ch. 40). The State Board of Examiners was to certify teachers and the State Agricultural and Training Board was to encourage and oversee the creation of county training schools (S. L. 1911, Ch. 267).
1913 The State Board of Education was created to consolidate public school education administration in the state and to oversee the Department of Public Instruction. The Superintendent of Public Instruction was president and the deputy superintendent was secretary. Other duties were listed (S. L. 1913, Ch. 149). The Superintendent of Public Instruction and the County Superintendent of Schools were elected on a non-partisan ballot starting in 1914 (S. L. 1913, Ch. 153). The State High School Board, State Agricultural and Training School Board, and State Board of Examiners were eliminated.
1919 The Board of Administration was created to replace the State Board of Education (S. L. 1919, Ch. 71). Minnie J. Nielson was the third woman to serve as Superintendent and was in office until 1927.
1920 An initiated measure passed and the Superintendent of Public Instruction resumed the administration of public school educational programs for the state by taking over responsibility for teacher certification, school standardization, curricula, eighth grade examinations, and high school pupils (Initiated measure November 2, 1920).
1921 Legislation passed giving the Superintendent of Public Instruction responsibility for the administration of public schools (S. L. 1921, Ch. 257).
1927 Bertha R. Palmer served as Superintendent of Public Instruction until 1933.
1935 Creation of the free high school correspondence courses were governed by the State Board of Public School Education (S. L. 1935, Ch. 257).
1957 The Legislative Assembly required a study to increase to four years the terms of elected officials including the Superintendent of Public Instruction (S. L. 1957, Ch. 789).
1963 An amended law stated that the Superintendent of Public Instruction was to submit to the Governor and Secretary of State a report covering the two preceding years (S. L.1963, Ch.346).
1964 An initiated measure changed the term of Superintendent of Public Instruction from a two-year term to a four-year term (Constitution Article V, Section 12).
1965 A nine member Board was created and called the Teachers Professional Practices Commission with the goal of developing and revising professional codes and standards relating primarily to the issues of ethics and conduct and to investigate complaints against teachers (S. L. 1965, Ch.139).
1969 Legislation created an Education Factfinding Commission to investigate teacher-school administrator labor disputes (S. L. 1969, Ch. 172).
1989 The Superintendent of Public Instruction appointed the director of the Division of Independent Study (S. L. 1989, Ch. 199). Legislation added a new section to the Century Code and established the office of the Department of Public Instruction with the Superintendent known as the chief administrator of the Department (S. L. 1989, Ch. 200). The School for the Blind, School for the Deaf, and the State Library moved under the administration of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (S. L. 1989, Ch. 239).
1993 The name Teachers’ Professional Practices Commission was changed to Education Standards and Practices Board (ESPB) and the Governor appointed nine members to the ESPB for three-year terms. Legislation also expanded the duties of the ESPB and from within the ESPB a five-member board known as the Administrator’s Professional Practices Board was created. Authority was given to investigate complaints against not only teachers but also against school administrators.
1999 Legislation required that the Superintendent of Public Instruction hold a professional teaching license starting on the day of the election (S. L. 1999, Ch. 162). The deputy superintendent became known as an assistant (S. L. 1999, Ch. 35).
2002 The No Child Left Behind Act was established to implement the federal Elementary and Secondary Act [Public Law 107-110].
2003 An amendment related to school district employee compensation reports and the data was sent to the Superintendent (S. L. 2003, Ch. 145). Information had to be provided by the Superintendent to an interim committee for any changes in the No Child Left Behind Act (S. L. 2003, Ch. 146). The name of the State Board for Vocational and Technical Education was changed to the State Board for Career and Technical Education.
2005 Legislation required the Superintendent to submit an annual finance facts report on the financial conditions of school districts (S. L. 2005, Ch. 152). For the purpose of accreditation the Superintendent first submitted to a legislative interim committee an accountability plan as required by the No Child Left Behind Act (S. L.2005, Ch. 498).
2007 Legislation removed language regarding the qualifications for the Superintendent of Public Instruction that asked for a valid North Dakota professional teaching license “on the day of election” (S. L. 2007, Ch. 161). The terms “students with mental retardation” was changed to “students of intellectual disabilities” and “mentally retarded” changed to “individual with an intellectual disability”. Legislation required reconciling the terms in statutory provisions (S. L. 2007, Ch. 207).
2009 Funding for a statewide longitudinal data system was approved (S. L. 2009, Ch. 49). The Legislative Council name was changed to Legislative Management and the interim committee still required compiled information on the No Child Left Behind Act (S. L. 2009, Ch. 482).
2011 The Superintendent of Public Instruction was required to conduct a study of Indian education issues and develop criteria for grant funding (S. L. 2011, Ch. 126). Additional information expanded the longitudinal data system and mandatory provisions required for the information system (S. L. 2011, Ch. 127). The Superintendent was to accept nominations for teacher of the year award and develop and publish the criteria for nominees (S. L. 2011, Ch. 128). The Superintendent was to adopt rules governing accreditation of public and non-public schools (S. L. 2011, Ch. 131). Kirsten Baesler was elected the fifth woman to serve as Superintendent of Public Instruction.
30380 Administration. School Fund Construction Files.
30385 Administration. Miscellaneous Subject Files.
30387 Administration. Annual Reports of the Director of Secondary Education.
30388 Administration. School Classification Report.
30389 Administration. North Dakota School Officers Association Correspondence.
30390 Administration. Reports of County School Superintendents.
30391 Administration. Assessed Valuation of School Property Reports.
30392 Administration. Minutes of the North Dakota High School Council.
30394 Administration. Scrapbooks.
30395 Administration. Record of Pupil-Assessed Valuation Payments.
30396 Administration. Teacher-Unit Reports.
30397 Administration. Teacher-Unit Control Account.
30398 Administration. Cash Journals.
30399 Administration. Basis of Need Ledgers.
30400 Certification. Minutes of the State Board of Examiners for Teachers’ Certificates.
30401 Certification. Educational Standards and Practices Board Teachers’ Certificates.
30402 Certification. Master Certificate File.
30404 Administration. Report on Legislation Affecting North Dakota Education.
30405 Administration. Legal Opinions.
30406 Administration. Lectures and Special Programs.
30519 Administration. County Reorganization Minutes.
30520 Secondary Schools Division. Annual Reports of Accredited Schools.
30536 Administration. Report of General Fund Receipts and Payments of Each School District.
30537 Administration. Report of Construction Requirements for School Districts.
30648 Educational Broadcasting Council. Subject Files.
30681 Administration. Court Case Files.
30767 Administration. Education Factfinding Commission Records.
30783 Administration. High School Victory Corps File.
30861 Administration. Community Education Advisory Council Minutes.
30866 Administration. Report of Standardization of Consolidated, Graded, and One-Room Rural Schools.
31161 Certification. Record of State Certificates.
31162 Certification. Index to Applicants for County Certificates Register.
31163 Certification. Elementary Certificate Register.
31164 Certification. Diplomas Accredited as Professional Certificates Register.
31165 Certification. Professional Certificate Register.
31166 Certification. Teaching Certificate Application Register.
31167 Administration. Annual Classification and State Aid for Schools Register.
31168 Administration. County Teachers’ Institute Record.
31169 Administration. Teachers’ Institute Report.
31170 Administration. County Auditor Mill Levy Report.
31171 Administration. State Tuition Fund Apportionment Record.
31172 Administration. Superintendent’s Records.
31173 Certification. Minutes of the High School Board.
31174 Certification. Minutes of the State Board of Education.
31175 Administration. Record of Appeals Register.
31176 Administration. Appeal Case Files.
31177 Administration. Enumeration of School Age Children Reports.
31178 Administration. Graded School Inspection Reports.
31179 Administration. Publications Scrapbook.
31234 Certification. Record of Professional Certificate Examinations.
31327 Administration. High School Student Transcripts.
31375 Administration. School Drawings.
31393 Elementary Education. Closed School Case Files.
31394 Elementary Education. School Accreditation Files.
31396 Administration. County Superintendents Association Minutes.
31395 Administration. North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools (NCACSS) Minutes.
31397 Administration. NCACSS School Annual Reports.
31398 Administration. Organizational Chart.
31404 Secondary Schools Division. Small Schools Study Files.
31477 Administration. Foundation Aid Reports.
31483 Administration. State Committee on School District Reorganization Minutes.
31484 Administration. State Board of Public School Education Minutes.
31485 Administration. State Board for Vocational Rehabilitation Minutes.
31486 Administration. Administrative Files.
31487 Administration. State School Construction Board Minutes.
31488 Administration. State Board for Vocational Education Minutes.
31494 Administration. Staff Meeting Files.
31511 Secondary Schools Division. Special Education Program Monitoring Files.
31512 Secondary Schools Division. Special Education Advisory Panel Files.
31513 Secondary Schools Division. Special Education Annual Reports.
31514 Secondary Schools Division. Special Education State Plans.
31516 Career Education and Guidance. Annual Performance Report.
31521 Applied Education. Department of Applied Education Report.
31524 Career Education and Guidance. Testing Data.
31567 Administration Division. Curriculum Council Records.
31568 Administration Division. Census Enumerations of Children.
31570 Minutes Teachers’ Professional Practices Commission. Educational Standards and Practices Board.
31607 Special Education Division. History Materials for Special Education.
30647 Educational Broadcasting Council. Minutes.
31690 Elementary Education. Youth Citizen League File.
31691 Elementary Education. Annual Report.
31766 School Finance Division. School District Reorganization, Annexation, and Dissolution.
31777 Administration Division. School Construction Fund Annual Reports.
31796 Assistant Superintendent North Dakota Occupational Information Coordinating Committee.
31818 Educational Broadcasting Council. Records.
31850 ND Special Education Administration Units. Three Year Plans.
31861 North Dakota Curriculum Council. Correspondence.
31874 Special Education Division. Gifted and Talented Files.
31882 Adult Education. GED News Releases.
31884 Finance and Organization Division. School District Boundary Assessed Program Restructuring.
31893 Division of Independent Study. Motion Picture Film. (See ND State Film Library)
31945 Indian Education Division. Survey of States’ Indian Educational Services.
31961 School Blueprints RESTRICTED
31975 Management and Information Division. Assessment Files.
31991 Sound Slides.
31995 Approval and Accreditation-Middle Level. ND Occupational Coordinating Committee Files.
31999 Finance and Organization Division. School Finance Construction File.
32003 Title VI Division. Minutes.
32037 Approval and Accreditation. Minutes.
32048 Finance and Organization. Reciprocal Tuition Agreements.
32049 School Finance. Report Card for North Dakota Future Survey Information.
32050 Finance and Organization. Census Enumeration.
32051 School Superintendent. Director’s News Releases.
32075 Educational Improvement Unit. North Dakota Conference on Improvement
32080 Compensatory Title I. Consolidated State Plan.
32138 Finance and Organization. Statewide Summary of School Districts Financial
32148 Title I. Intrastate Migrant Survey.
32150 School Approval and Accreditation. Home Education Information
32151 Approval and Accreditation Secondary Education. State Accreditation Committee
32238 Elementary Education. Project North Dakota Records.
32242 Human Resources. Organizational Charts.
32247 Finance and Organization. Litigation Files.
32305 Administration. Superintendent, Wayne G. Sanstead Records
Gray, David P. Guide to the North Dakota State Archives, 1985.
Laws of Dakota Territory.
North Dakota Century Code.
North Dakota Department of Public Instruction Website.
North Dakota Secretary of State Blue Book.
North Dakota State Legislature Session Laws.
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