Weather Forecast


MDE: No further probe into Nisswa special ed program

Gaynard Brown, director of the cooperative that supports special education programs at the Nisswa Elementary School, said Tuesday state officials told him they found no breaches of due process and no indications children were being mistreated at the school. They said there would be no further investigation, according to Brown.

Brown, director of the Paul Bunyan Cooperative, said the determination was made without an on-site inspection. He said the Minnesota Department of Education’s (MDE’s) Special Education Department determined that there was no breach in due process and the MDE’s Maltreatment Division told him there was no indication children were being mistreated.

“The department just doesn’t see this as either the mistreatment of children or due process issues,” Brown said.

He said he expects to receive a written report from the MDE soon.

The investigation into the special education program came after William Cruz, Jr., a former Nisswa Elementary School educational assistant said he filed a complaint with the MDE with allegations of abuse and stress in the special education classroom.

Cruz said Tuesday he disagreed with the conclusion the MDE reached. He said the department didn’t speak to three employees who quit or to parents.

When Cruz’s allegations surfaced Brainerd School Superintendent Steve Razidlo disagreed with the former employee’s charges that the programs were not being run safely. Razidlo said last week the district closely monitors all of its special education programs and staff are trained for safety.

MIKE O’ROURKE may be reached at 855-5860 or He may be followed on Twitter at

Mike O'Rourke
Mike O'Rourke began his career at the Brainerd Dispatch in 1978 as a general assignment reporter. He was named city editor in 1981 and associate editor in 1999. He covers politics and writes features and editorials.
(218) 855-5860