Cost per student Mercer $25,097,
Wis. $13,505, Nation $11,762
ACT comp. score Mercer 17.0,
Wis. 19.6, Lakeland UHS 20.0,
Hurley 18.7; perfect score 36.0
Mercer DPI Report Card score
lowest of all 421 Wis. districts

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Torkelson’s Contract -- Part 2


“A fifth grader could have done a better job,” was the way an experienced attorney described the employment contract of deposed Mercer School District Administrator Erik Torkelson.

“In a legal writing class, the contract would get a D- at best,” he went on to say.  “For starters, the contract assigns supervisory responsibility to the District Administrator who is, presumably, the subject of the Administrator’s Contract.  However, the contract says that Torkelson “will assume the duties of District Superintendent”, although the only reference to ”superintendent” in the state statutes on education is to the state superintendent.

Another glaring contradictory statement in the contract says: “Mr. Torkelson  shall perform such other duties, services or obligations as from time to time may be assigned by the District Administrator.”

So, what was Torkelson – the District Administrator, District Superintendent or both?  Does this mean that he is to assign duties to himself and the school board has no supervisory role?

An attempt was made to correct some of the faux pas contained in the July 2011 contract with a new contract in July 2017.  However, the validity of the 2017 contract is in question because it was never presented to or received the required approval of the full board.  (More on that in Part 3.)

Other major parts of the contract strongly suggest that it had no legal input and was an amateurish attempt to make it look like it had.  For instance, the contract also says the “the renewal or non-renewal of this agreement shall follow the procedures set forth in Section 118.243, Wis. Stats.”  But there is no Wisconsin Statute 118.243.

If Torkelson had meant it to read Section 118.24, which does exist, then the procedures for renewal or non-renewal as stated in paragraph two of his agreement directly contradicts what is in 118.24.  

A couple of other conditions of the contract required that Torkelson obtain a Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction administrator’s license, which he did, and expressed a desire that he move into the school district, which he never did.  The provision that he be required to live in the school district was removed from the 2017 contract.

A ”Sweetheart” Deal.  Part 3 coming up.


  1. "There's a sucker born every minute" is a phrase closely associated with P. T. Barnum, an American showman of the mid-19th century, although there is no evidence that he actually said it.

    Looks like Torkelson found the mother lode in Mercer.

  2. If the contract was not approved by the School Board, then there is no contract.

    Dump Torkelson and don't look back.

    And if you are concerned, then just close the school. Then there is absolutely no need for him. No school, no job. Done.