• Montana Office of Public Instruction's Executive Staff
  • Legal Division
    • Kyle Moen, Chief Legal Counsel
    • Bev Marlow, Paralegal, 406.444.4402
    • Nicole Hanni, Paralegal Assistant, 406.444.3172
    • Mandi Gibbs, Early Assistance Program Director, 406.444.5664
  • Have a Media Inquiry?
    Contact OPISupt@mt.gov, Communications Director, 406.444.3160

Questions or concerns about this webpage?
Please contact the OPI Help Desk at opihelpdesk@mt.gov or 406.444.0087


State Superintendent of Public Instruction

The Office of the Superintendent

Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie ArntzenThe 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 LandsThe 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.

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

Superintendent Decisions

 News Release Archive

News Releases


2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey Results Released

Wednesday, July 26, 2017, 4:02 pm
By Dylan Klapmeier


2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey Results Released

July 26, 2017 

HELENA—The Montana high school results from the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey have been released today by the Montana Office of Public Instruction (OPI) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  The biennial survey conducted in February, provides student data for health risks associated with unintentional injury and violence, including suicide ideation, tobacco use, alcohol and other drug use, sexual behaviors, nutrition and dietary behaviors and physical activity; behaviors which have been shown to result in increased rates of morbidity or mortality.

After reviewing the results, Superintendent Arntzen stressed the importance of communities using their local data to positively serve their students:

“As a mother, grandmother, and teacher, I am encouraged that in many areas more Montana students are making healthy and safe decisions, however, more emphasis is needed on positive mental health. I urge local schools, communities, and parents to use this information to promote health, well-being, and success for our most precious treasures, our students,” Arntzen said Wednesday.

Compared to 2015 survey results, the 2017 results show statistical differences in the following areas:

  • 19.8 percent of students rode with a driver who had been drinking alcohol*; a decrease from 23.0 percent in 2015
  • Of students who drove a car*, 7.6 percent drove while they had been drinking alcohol; a decrease from 10.9 percent in 2015
  • 8.5 percent of students carried a weapon on school property*; a decrease from 10.6 percent in 2015
  • 8.0 percent of students did not go to school because they felt unsafe at school or on their way to or from school*; an increase from 5.0 percent in 2015
  • 6.5 percent of students who dated in the past 12 months, experienced sexual dating violence; a decrease from 10.0 percent in 2015
  • 21.6 percent of students were bullied on school property during the past 12 months; a decrease from 25.3 percent in 2015
  • 33.9 percent of students had ever tried cigarette smoking; down from 39.1 percent in 2015
  • 46.6 percent of students had ever used electronic vapor products (e.g., e-cigarettes); down from 51.1 percent in 2015
  • 22.5 percent of students currently* use electronic vapor products; down from 29.5 percent in 2015
  • Of students who currently* drink, 40.1 percent of students got the alcohol by someone giving it to them; an increase from 34.9 percent in 2015
  • 26.9 percent of students did not drink a 100% fruit juice during the past 7 days; an increase from 24.2 percent in 2015
  • 25.2 percent of students ate fruit or drank 100% fruit juice two or more times per day; a decrease from 27.5 percent in 2015
  • 62.7 percent of students ate vegetables daily; a decrease from 66.0 percent in 2015
  • 19.0 percent of students did not drink milk during the past 7 days; an increase from 15.8 percent in 2015

*During the past 30 days

A new question on the survey this year found that 16.3 percent of students had had a concussion during the past 12 months from playing a sport or being physically active (19.3 percent males, 13.1 percent females).

The 2017 survey also found that 31.0 percent of students felt so sad or hopeless for 2 weeks or more that they stopped doing usual activities, 20.8 percent seriously considered attempting suicide, 16.6 percent made a plan about how they would attempt suicide, and 9.5 percent actually attempted suicide.  Of those students who had a suicide attempt, 33.6 percent resulted in an injury, poisoning, or overdose that had to be treated by a doctor or nurse.

Susan Court, the State Coordinator for the Youth Risk Behvior Survey, summarized the results:

“Overall, the 2017 Montana YRBS findings report that most Montana high school students are making good choices about behaviors that affect their health and well-being. The trends show us that fewer students are using alcohol, tobacco products and participating in risky driving behaviors than in previous years. However, more students are reporting sad or hopeless feelings and are considering, planning, and attempting suicide. Far more important is the fact that these aren’t just numbers or percentages but are the young people in our towns and schools,” Court said Wednesday.

The 2017 Report can be found on the OPI’s website:  http://www.opi.mt.gov/pdf/YRBS/17/17MT_YRBS_FullReport.pdf


CONTACT:   Dylan Klapmeier

                       Media Assistant, Montana Office of Public Instruction





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."

Kyle Moen, Chief Legal Counsel
Bev Marlow, Paralegal, 406.444.4402
Nicole Hanni, Paralegal Assistant, 406.444.3172
Mandi Gibbs, Early Assistance Program Director, 406.444.5664

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 444.4402 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