BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET)- As Bismarck Public Schools searches for its new superintendent, some community members are asking for greater transparency and accountability from the school district.

Travis Jensen is one of them.

For weeks now, Jensen has been getting off work and going to work of a different kind, circulating a petition for a state audit of Bismarck Public Schools. While the district is audited by an independent firm, petitioners are requesting an additional audit by the North Dakota Office of the State Auditor.

“We expect our elected officials to be fiscally responsible,” said Jensen, “and we also expect them, as public servants, to answer to the people.”

Jensen says he got involved in school matters when his daughter was bullied by another student. During the time that Jensen was collecting signatures outside the Department of Transportation, Donna Silvernagel added her name to the petition. Like Jensen, she says bullying is a concern of hers. According to the North Dakota Secretary of State’s Office, 4,524 signatures will need to be collected for the petition to be successful.

“Somebody needs to be watching for that, and when they see it going on, they need to put a stop to it,” said Silvernagel.

“There’s not enough explanation, there’s not enough transparency,” said Jensen. “Typically, when the community comes forward with questions, we don’t get answers. And we feel that if we’re contributing to it with our hard-earned money, we should get answers to those questions.”

KX News previously broke the story about an investigation concerning Wachter Middle School. 24 hours after we started asking questions, Bismarck Public Schools and the Bismarck Police Department sent us similar statements within just minutes of each other.

Petition to recall Dr. Emily Eckroth spreading around Bismarck

“The very broad statements that were brought out by both BPS and the Bismarck Police Department leave a lot of parents concerned,” stated Jensen, “and when you don’t give answers, or don’t give at least something, that’s when the rumors start to happen.”

KX news requested an interview from a Bismarck Public Schools spokesperson for this story. Steve Koontz, director of community relations, declined our request. In lieu of providing an interview, Koontz furnished the following statement:

Bismarck Public Schools is subject to comprehensive yearly audits, which are conducted by an independent third-party firm and reviewed by the North Dakota State Auditor.  Audited financial statements are viewable on www.bismarckschools.org/audits. Bismarck Public Schools will not comment further regarding the petition currently in circulation to recall Dr. Emily Eckroth from the Bismarck School Board or the petition for an audit.

A Bismarck Police Department spokesperson has confirmed to KX News that the investigation pertaining to Wachter Middle School remains open and active.