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Welcome Back to School!

Friday, August 26, 2016

As a kid, the end of summer usually meant the last of playing outside all day, fishing trips and endless bike rides around Browning with friends. The upside would be that I’d get new shoes and clothes and the anticipation of meeting my new teacher and classmates. Now as the leader of Montana’s public schools, I’m just as excited for students to walk into their classrooms and take on the school year because innovative programs are at the ready.

When I launched Graduation Matters Montana to ensure more students graduate from high school, it was never just about a number. The initiative, now in 58 communities, has always been about making sure students who graduate are ready for college, the military, and careers. It’s also been about making sure all students create a path forward while they’re still in high school.

I see incredible examples of this all across our state thanks to collaboration among Graduation Matters Montana communities, organizations and more than 450 local businesses.

Students in Hamilton can earn their CNAs while still in high school because of a partnership among Hamilton High, Bitterroot College and the Greater Valley Foundation. In Polson, juniors and seniors can get internships with St. Joseph’s Medical Center, rotating through clinical and administrative departments to give students a real-world taste of working at a hospital. In Great Falls, students at Paris Gibson can spend half of their day at Montana State University Great Falls working toward a certification in welding or construction. Billings and Bozeman have career centers for students. Missoula has its Health Science Academy. Libby and Troy are launching a trades-focused public charter program. In each corner of our state, innovative programs are in place to get students on the path toward meaningful careers that will provide them a bright future, and benefit Montana’s economy.

I’m proud to say that more students are graduating from high school than ever before, creating a multimillion dollar boost to Montana’s economy each year. Awesome things happen when all of us work together toward a common goal. To me, there is no greater challenge and no cause more worthy than setting up the next generation for success.

When our students proudly walk across that stage on graduation day, each will have a diploma in one hand and a plan for the future in the other.


Denise Juneau

Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction 


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Superintendent Denise Juneau Participates in Ribbon Cutting for RIVER’s New Missoula Veterans-Focused Training Center and Headquarters

Thursday, September 29, 2016, 12:30 pm
By Emilie Ritter Saunders

MISSOULA, Mont. -- With help from Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau and the Missoula Area Chamber of Commerce, The Rural Institute for Veterans Education and Research (RIVER) officially opened its new headquarters and training center Thursday located at 2875 Tina Ave. Missoula.

“This training center will benefit veterans and their families across Montana,” said Juneau, who certified RIVER as a VA approved education facility in 2015. “RIVER’s training programs are unique, and now that the VA has endorsed the facility, this center can greatly assist Montana’s veterans and military families who are excited to use skills they learned in the military to strengthen Montana's workforce."

RIVER’s training programs are unique, including the nation’s very first community paramedicine program focused on Veterans.

“We couldn’t be more excited to open this facility in Missoula which will teach veterans and their families how to help their fellow brothers and sisters who need services,” said Ed Lesofski, Founder and Executive Director of RIVER. “Montana has more than 100,000 U.S Military veterans, yet only 38% receive services from the US Veterans Administration and our training programs are designed to provide career opportunities to veterans and their families to assist veterans either within or outside the VA medical system.”

RIVER is unique with the first-in-the-nation Community Veteran Emergency Medical Technician (CVEMT) course designed to allow veterans and their families help their brothers and sisters. This course allows veterans and their families to become licensed to bridge the gap of the shortage of providers servicing veterans and their families. The course teaches medical, mental and moral health care techniques to the CVEMT’s. CVEMT’s uses these techniques in support of their fellow brothers and sisters and community members under the supervision of a licensed provider.

Opening of the facility allowed for the addition of a new program ‘Outdoor Recreational Therapist’ training students to lead their fellow veterans and their families or clients through numerous outdoor activities, and also to provide medical, mental and moral strengthening in a less formal, less clinical setting. Providing such care while first building a bond enjoying outdoor activities makes it easier for veterans and clients to open up.

The 2,500 sq. ft. space within the Dinny Medical Campus will house two classrooms able to serve up to 100 students a week, as well as RIVER’s Educational and Corporate Headquarters. The space also allows for the addition of a ‘Pain Clinic’ to help veterans, and may also provide internship opportunities to some of RIVER’s students.

Those wishing to learn more about the programs and sign up for classes can visit www.riverofchange.org.
About RIVER:

The Rural Institute for Veterans Education and Research (RIVER) is committed to providing a voice and a choice in physical, mental and moral healthcare. Many of its training programs are designed to provide career opportunities to veterans, who can then help fellow veterans and community members. Participants do not need to be veterans, and upon graduation will be able to assist veterans and non-veterans alike. For more information and to see current courses visit: www.riverofchange.org



Denise Juneau, Superintendent of Public InstructionDenise Juneau has spent her adult life ensuring that all Montanans have access to a quality education that can open the doors to a better future. Her work in public schools and leading the state's education agency has meant increased opportunities for Montanans, and a collective boost to the state's economy.

Denise's Montana roots run deep. Her family's ancestry traces back to before Montana was even a state, possibly 54 generations on this soil. She attended Head Start in Billings while her parents worked their way through college. By 2nd grade, her family moved to Browning where Denise's grandmother was a school cook and mother to eight children, her grandfather was a medal-awarded veteran, police officer and drove school buses, and her parents were educators. Denise's first job was alongside her grandma in the school kitchen.

She experienced first-hand the value of education and public service and recognizes they can change the course of someone's life.

After graduating from Browning High School, Denise received her bachelor’s degree in English from Montana State University. She continued her education and earned a master’s from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. After teaching in North Dakota and Montana and working at the state education agency, Denise set her sights on the legal profession and received her juris doctorate from the University of Montana School of Law.

Denise is an enrolled member of the Mandan Hidatsa Tribes and a descendant of the Blackfeet tribe. In 2008, she became the first American Indian woman in the country ever elected to an executive statewide office. In 2012, she was reelected to a second term as Montana's Superintendent of Public Instruction.

As Superintendent, Denise launched an unprecedented effort to make sure all Montana students who graduate from high school are prepared for college or military and civilian careers. She developed a statewide initiative, Graduation Matters Montana, which has made a positive difference in more than 50 communities. Graduation Matters Montana brings school, business leaders, community members, students and families together to work toward a common goal – that every student graduates from high school ready to succeed. Since the start of Graduation Matters, Montana's graduation rate has increased to its highest level ever recorded.

Denise's success in raising Montana's graduation rate has a direct impact on improving the state's economy. According to the Alliance for Excellent Education, the increase in Montana's high school graduation rate will equal a $6 million annual boost to the state's economy.

Denise has also spent seven years as superintendent pushing back on federal education policies that don't make sense in Montana. She turned a rigid one-size-fits-all federal school improvement grant program into one that fits rural Montana schools. She's pushed back on federal student testing, and long advocated for repealing No Child Left Behind.

In her tenure as superintendent, Denise has raised academic standards, expanded college and career readiness opportunities and advocated for policies to improve the quality of education in our state and nation. Denise believes that all Montanans have a stake in our public education system, and when Montana students succeed, Montana succeeds.

Denise also sits on Montana's Land Board, which has a constitutional duty to manage
the state's natural resources in a way that has the largest financial benefit to public schools. Denise has advocated for responsible natural resource development in a way that benefits Montana's schools, keeps the state's resource economy moving forward, and preserves access to public lands.

Denise's parents, Stan and Carol Juneau live in Great Falls. Her brother, Ron, lives and works in Billings with his family.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction

As our State Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau is working hard for the people of Montana to help give Montana's children the most valuable tool they can receive, a quality education.  Strong schools can create educational opportunities for Montana students to be highly competitive in the global economy.

The Office of the Superintendent

Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise JuneauThe people of Montana have elected a State Superintendent of Instruction as one of the five members of the Executive Branch since 1889. Montana demonstrates the high value it places on educating our children, by electing a State Superintendent for K-12 public education who is accountable directly to Montana citizens.

By law, the State Superintendent has general supervision of the K-12 public schools and districts. The State Superintendent also serves as a member of the Land Board, the State Library Commission, and as an ex-officio non-voting member of the Board of Public Education, the Board of Regents for the University System, and the Board of Education.


Montana State Land Board

Image of Montana LandsDenise Juneau as Superintendent of Public Instruction is a member of the State Land Board. The land board oversees the management of 5.2 million acres of Montana school trust land.

State trust lands are managed by the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) Trust Land Management Division. Timber, surface, and mineral resources are managed for the benefit of the common schools and the other endowed institutions in Montana, under the direction of the State Board of Land Commissioners.

Ann Gilkey, Chief Legal Counsel for Office of Public Instruction will handle questions relating to the State Land Board. Please contact Ann at agilkey@mt.gov if you would like to comment on state land topics or if you have any questions.

State Land Board meetings are held on the third Monday of each month.

Land Board

From left to right: Representative David Roundstone; Monica Lindeen, Commissioner of Securities and Insurance, Montana State Auditor; Leroy Spang, Northern Cheyenne President; Denise Juneau, Superintendent of Public Instruction; Steve Bullock, Attorney General; Linda McCulloch, Secretary of State; Mary Sexton, Director of DNRC; Jerry LaFranier, Northern Cheyenne Tribal Council member.

Superintendent Decisions

Office of Public Instruction Mission, Goals, and Objectives

Mission: The Montana Office of Public Instruction provides vision, advocacy, support and leadership for schools and communities to ensure that all students meet today's challenges and tomorrow's opportunities.

The Office of Public Instruction's key strategic directions are as follows:

  • Ensure that every child begins school and graduates with the knowledge and skills necessary for success in the 21st century global society by strengthening Montana education from preschool through college and the workforce.
    • The OPI is working on policy to minimize the barriers that exist at the major transition points for students in their educational career.  Pre-school to Kindergarten, Elementary to Middle School, Middle School to High School, and High School to Career or Career Prep or College.
  • Improve student achievement in struggling schools by providing leadership for school turnaround efforts across the state.
    • The OPI is working with schools and communities to find meaningful and sustainable solutions (where assistance is most needed).  Local organizing efforts involving schools and their local partners will be the core of this work.
  • Provide current and accurate educational information to the state, school districts, and communities to promote data-driven policy decisions and assist in improving teaching and learning.
    • OPI is developing a data warehouse for K-12 education that is guided by policy to ensure efficiency, quality, reliability, and accessibility and allow meaningful research to take place to assist in decision making from the local to the state level.
  • Improve school-community relationships and student performance through the development and implementation of a comprehensive communication plan.
    • A defined communication effort with School Boards, Superintendents, Administrators, Business Officials, Teachers, Students, and Parents will allow for information to more effectively and efficiently flow between the OPI and these groups.
  • Provide systematic training opportunities and focused staff development for OPI staff to support their work and ensure quality customer service.
    • Investment in the OPI staff to improve customer service and cross training to ensure efficient continuation of services will provide for an effective working relationship between the OPI and the field in all areas.

Legal Division

The OPI legal counsel provides legal advice and services to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. The Legal Division provides services to OPI divisions and assists the legal counsel in her duties. Those duties include, but are not limited to:

(1) providing legal advice and services to the Superintendent in connection with special education;
(2) assisting with appeals from County Superintendent decisions;
(3) representing the State Superintendent and OPI in court proceedings;
(4) providing legal services and advice in connection with teacher certification, denial, suspension and revocation;
(5) assisting with the adoption and amendment of administrative rules;
(6) assisting with legislation; and
(7) production of "School Laws of Montana."

Division Staff:
Ann Gilkey, Chief Legal Counsel, 406.444.4402
Mandi Gibbs, Early Assistance Program Director, 406.444.5664
Linda Brandon-Kjos, Legal Administrative Officer, 406.444.4402
Beverly J. Marlow, Paralegal, 406.444.3172

The Legal and the Special Education Divisions of the Office of Public Instruction (OPI) have created the Early Assistance Program (EAP). The EAP provides technical assistance to parents, school districts, and advocacy organizations, related to the delivery of a free appropriate public education for;students with disabilities. The Early Assistance Program Director is available to intercede prior to or at the time of filing a formal complaint with the OPI. The EAP Director will gather information pertinent to the situation and attempt to resolve an issue within 15 school days. With permission from the parents, the EAP process may exceed 15 days.

Our philosophy is to resolve issues amicably and, whenever possible, prevent expensive and emotionally challenging legal entanglements. When provided with the opportunity to discuss the issues at hand in a less formal and confrontational venue, parents and schools can reach agreement without undermining the relationships necessary to ensure the smooth delivery of special education services to students with disabilities.

Mandi Gibbs, Early Assistance Program Director, 406.444.5664

In order to assist citizens, school districts, and county superintendents, OPI legal staff, together with County Superintendents Marsha Davis and Rachel Vielleux, prepared a flow chart and sample forms to be used as guides in the transfer process.

Links to PDF versions of these documents are provided below. If you need the documents in a Word file, please contact the OPI Legal Division at 444.3172 or email bemarlow@mt.gov.

These territory transfer documents are only for general information to provide a broad guide in effecting a territory transfer. They should not be relied upon as constituting legal advice or definitive forms. You should seek legal assistance in drafting documents specific to your particular needs.

Petition to Transfer School District Territory
Resolution of Board of Trustees - Transferring District
Resolution of Board of Trustees - Receiving District
Sample Letter re Transferring
Sample Transfer Order
Territory Transfer Flow Chart
Territory Transfer Law