Oberon school district hires new principal, superintendent amid school board controversy

Four members of the Oberon School Board in Benson County, N.D., were suspended Monday, June 1, after being accused of misusing school funds. Photo courtesy of Penny Friesen

The Oberon Public School District has hired a new principal and district superintendent and sworn in new school board members after four of the five members of the board were suspended by Gov. Doug Burgum and face criminal charges.

Last week, the North Dakota State Board appointed two new school board members for the district, Sharon Mudgett and Matthew Friesen. Both were sworn into office at a special meeting at the Oberon school. They will immediately begin serving on the board.

The appointments give the Oberon school district, which serves 55 students in rural northeast North Dakota, a quorum of three board members.


The school district hired a new principal and superintendent amid all of the controversy. Jordan Brown will serve in those positions for the 2020-21 school year. Brown was named to the position during a special school board meeting held on Thursday, June 4, according to a press release from the district.
Previously, he had been a teacher at New Rockford and Devils Lake and earned his master's degree in educational leadership from Northern State University in Aberdeen, S.D.


Brown officially began serving in his new position following the meeting last week.

A full five-member school board will be in place shortly following the Tuesday school board election.

The four suspended members -- Corey Ploium, Karen Peterson, Jacob Hegland and Carolyn Nelson -- face multiple charges after police say they misused $150,000 in school funds. The North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation was involved in the case.

The suspended board members are accused of willingly using school funds to hire Victim, Survivor, the Voice LLC, a sales firm that lacked credentials to do an audit and wasn't in good standing with the North Dakota Secretary of State's Office. The head of the company was Ploium's friend, according to court documents.

State Auditor Josh Gallion has been requested to do an audit on the Oberon School District.

Sydney Mook has been the managing editor at the Herald since April 2021. In her role she edits and assigns stories and helps reporters develop their work for readers.

Mook has been with the Herald since May 2018 and was first hired as the Herald's higher education reporter where she covered UND and other happenings in state higher education. She was later promoted to community editor in 2019.

For story pitches contact her at or call her at 701-780-1134.
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