A local educator with experience at the Flandreau Indian School has been named Flandreau High School principal while the district has put on hold a contract for a school resource officer.
Thien Ho was chosen by the Flandreau School Board to replace Nichole Herzog, who resigned recently. Herzog took a job as an upper elementary, middle grades principal at Dakota Valley several weeks ago and was charged a $2,000 amount for asking to be let out of her Flandreau contract.
Ho’s contract starts Aug. 3, but he already is working to get ready for the new school year.
Last school year, Ho worked for the Sioux Falls School District as a language arts teacher at Roosevelt High School and was named the head girls basketball coach for the coming year. He began his education career at the Flandreau Indian School as a language arts teacher and also was the head girls’ basketball coach during eight of his nine years there.
Ho, 37, recently received his administrative degree from the University of South Dakota, serving internships with Roosevelt High School Principal Tim Hazlett and Flandreau Elementary Principal Justin Kelm.
Ho, whose first named is pronounced like the word “Tin,” said he has lived in Flandreau 10 years and grown to appreciate small-town living and being involved. He grew up in Seattle and went to college in Honolulu.
“The first five years living in Flandreau, I felt like I was simply just living in Flandreau. Flandreau truly has become my home,” he said. “When this position came up it became more and more clear this was the right path.”
Ho said he made his decision based on the community. “I felt it was the right time where I could take this position and impact my community as a servant leader.”
He and his wife Brittany have four children, ages 4 to 11. She works as a preschool teacher and is completing an education degree. Ho moved to Flandreau after meeting his wife, who is from here, while they were in college in Hawaii.
Board member Kevin Christenson, who was on the committee that interviewed candidates, said Ho is young, energetic, well-liked by kids in the community. He told the committee that his long-term goal is to continue to serve as the school’s principal.
“He wants to stay around for a long time,” Christenson said. “I really think he can bring the community together and the school together and keep us on the right path.”
The district received more than a dozen applications for the position and interviewed five candidates before selecting Ho.
In other action, the board tabled signing an agreement with the city for a school resource officer until Superintendent Rick Weber can check with the Moody County Sheriff’s Office to see if they could provide a deputy. A month ago, the board said the district needed to talk with the city to work out a few things before signing the contract for the officer in the schools.
The issue was on the agenda for the July 20 county commission meeting, which took place after the news deadline for printing.
Police office Matt Joachims has been the SRO for three years, and Police Chief Zach Weber said there isn’t another officer interested in that position. Joachims is part of the 1742nd Transportation Company of the South Dakota National Guard and has been called up to deploy with the unit to the southern U.S. border later this year.
Because he is being deployed and no one else is interested within the police department, the board agreed to check with the county.
The board approves the contract with the city but does not select or hire the particular officer that fills the position.
In addition to the school resource officer, the district would need an interpreter, board members said.
Some board members said it will be important to have a resource officer this year as all students return to in-person learning.