Following the departures of executive director Cliff Skagen and director of online learning Stacy Bender, the Crosslake Community School Board conducted a special meeting online via Zoom on Thursday, March 18, establishing an interim leadership plan.

The plan centers around three current employees stepping up to take on leadership responsibilities: online school counselor Holly Amaya, director of seat-based learning Jill Arendt and seat-based grades 3 and 4 teacher Annette Klang.

“All of these individuals have experience well beyond the roles that they are currently in,” board chair Cinda Jensen said.

Skagen resigned from his position on Friday, March 12. As of the same time, Bender is no longer employed with the school. No more information regarding their departures has been made available.

“I continue to recognize that there is a range of emotions,” Jensen told the board, staff and public during the meeting. “We have had two employees who have parted from CCS, and that is a loss. I recognize that and I want to honor where everybody's at in that process.”

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"We have had two employees who have parted from CCS, and that is a loss. I recognize that and I want to honor where everybody's at in that process."

— Board chair, Cinda Jensen


Under the approved interim plan, Klang will be in charge of the day-to-day running of the school, and will also handle disciplinary matters, paraprofessional scheduling and reports to the Minnesota Department of Education. Her current teaching position will be handled by a long-term substitute teacher.

Amaya’s responsibilities will continue to center on online learning, but will now handle admissions and enrollment, personalized study and withdrawing/student dropout conferences, among other duties. She will also field general high school questions.

Annette Klang
Annette Klang

Arendt will have responsibilities in both seat-based and online learning, fielding general questions for elementary and middle school students and parents while also helping with online staff supervision and evaluation, hiring, marketing, budgeting and building community between the two programs.

Arendt and Amaya are expected to communicate with each other on a frequent basis.

Both Arendt and Klang were finalists for the executive director position when Skagen was hired in December 2019.

With regard to the school’s leadership plan moving forward, Jensen indicated that the process of hiring a more permanent leadership is in motion, but will take time.


"We are not going to rush our long-term leadership plan. We want to conduct a rigorous process to understand and analyze these needs, student enrollment and demographics, possible leadership options and a thorough candidate selection process to select the most ideal candidates for potential roles."

— Board chair, Cinda Jensen


“We are not going to rush our long-term leadership plan,” Jensen said. “We want to conduct a rigorous process to understand and analyze these needs, student enrollment and demographics, possible leadership options and a thorough candidate selection process to select the most ideal candidates for potential roles. We do not have a plan all figured out right now. We want to review data. We want to receive staff and additional input and we must get board approval for several items.”

Attempts to reach board members for further comment on the departures of Skagen and Bender have been unsuccessful. Late last week, Joe Aliperto, president of Dieci School Finance in Roseville, said via email that he is fielding all questions on the board's behalf as board members are not doing any interviews.

Aliperto said he would take questions and coordinate with board members on any written responses they wished to issue. The Echo Journal hadn't yet received written responses to submitted questions as of Tuesday, March 23.

Aliperto said he has been working with Crosslake Community School for more than 10 years as both financial adviser and human resources specialist.

Dan Determan may be reached at 218-855-5879 or dan.determan@pineandlakes.com. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Dan.