Band director resigns midyear

By: 
Jill Meier, Journal editor

Brandon Valley High School band director Chris Borchardt unexpectedly resigned Dec. 28 after a former student alleged Borchardt kissed her Dec. 14. Two others reportedly came forward to BVHS administration with accounts of unprofessional conduct. 

Former student alleges teacher kissed, hugged her last month
 
Chris Borchardt, director of the high school band program since August 2015, resigned during the winter break after a former student told administrators that he kissed her Dec. 14 in the band room while she was volunteering to help with the pep band. Tanya Tingle, 18, and a 2017 BVHS grad, was one of three young women that talked with administrators on Dec. 22 about Borchardt.
Administrators and Borchardt aren’t saying why he resigned midyear.
“What I will say is that we are trying to minimize the impact of the resignation without minimizing the opportunities and experience for our kids,” Supt. Dr. Jarod Larson said. “The Brandon Valley High School Band has incredibly talented students, committed parents and guardians, and an active booster club. With that, we look forward to the positive impact the program will continue to have on the Brandon Valley School District community.”
Tingle, a freshman at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, alleges that Borchardt hinted at establishing a romantic relationship through text messages and physical contact that included hugging and an unexpected kiss.
“In high school, Borchardt was probably one of my favorite teachers. He was someone I always loved to talk to,” Tingle said. “I had a lot of trust in him. I looked up to him. I really liked what he was doing for our band program, and thought he was a really great person.”
Tingle claims that during a Dec. 13 visit to the BVHS band room when she and Borchardt were left alone in his office, told her that he “missed her” and wanted “more hugs.” 
“He gave me a hug and then he stopped, held me a foot away from his face and I started blushing. I got a little uncomfortable. Nothing happened, but I thought it was weird,” she said.
Tingle, a pre-med major, said she had asked Borchardt to help her prepare for an upcoming audition for a college band scholarship she would be auditioning for.
Tingle also alleges Borchardt approached her Dec. 14 as the pep band was preparing to perform at the Sanford Pentagon that night.
“I went back to the bathroom in the band room ... He came back there, hugged me and kissed me on the cheek, and then he kissed me on the lips. I was so shocked. I didn’t know how to react. I think I stood there still for a minute because I was so dumbstruck,” she said. 
Tingle next confided in her stepmother, Lori. 
“At this point I thought that Borchardt had really liked me … and that he and his wife were splitting, and he was interested in dating me or something,” Tingle said.
She said her stepmother advised her to step away from the relationship. 
Tingle alleges she is one of three young women he had interest in, and last month all three informed their parents and met with BVHS Principal Dr. Gregg Talcott Dec. 22. 
In a communication last week with parents/guardians of high school band students, Talcott assures band students will have all of the experiences that were already in place, “such as the Wind Ensemble performing in concert with the USD Band and performing at Band Masters. We will continue the new tradition of a 5-12 band concert. (The) Turkey Supper will continue as it has for the past many decades,” Talcott said.
Larson said the position will be advertised this spring with plans to fill it permanently for the 2018-19 school year. 
In the interim, the high school band program will be staffed by three “area legends of high school band conducting in our region,” Talcott said.
Bob Carlson, long time Sioux Falls Lincoln High School band director, will serve as the lead interim director. Carlson be assisted on a very regular basis by Dale Nelson, who has extensive experience directing bands in South Dakota and Southwest Minnesota. Finally, Bob Goheen, director of the BVHS band for 28 years, will return to the band room following a January vacation. 
“We are still finalizing someone for the jazz bands,” Talcott said.
Principals Talcott and Mark Schlekeway met with each of the bands last week. “We stated our commitment to them and this program,” Talcott said. 
The principals also encouraged students to talk to them or school counselors, if needed.
“We appreciate understanding as the administration works through the short- and long-term staffing situation surrounding the BV Band directorship. Our commitment to excellence in education, including fine arts extracurricular programming, is resolute,” Larson said.
Talcott and Randy Marso, BV activities director, met last week with the BV Band Parents Board of Directors, to answer questions and seek guidance in the matter.
BVHS band parent Beth Wooten was disheartened to learn of Borchardt’s unplanned resignation.
“The band program was good for my child and she enjoyed it while he was here,” said Wooten, whose 
daughter is a two-year member of the high school band program.
The Dell Rapids Public School District dealt with a similar matter in December 2016. Brian Smith resigned as the band director there after an 18-year-old student told school officials Smith had sent sexual messages through Facebook. 

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