• 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


New Report Ranks Montana 17th in the Nation for Identifying Homeless Students

Monday, June 26, 2017, 5:36 pm
By Dylan Klapmeier

New Report Ranks Montana 17th in the Nation for Identifying Homeless Students


June 26, 2017


HELENA— The Institute for Children, Poverty & Homelessness released a national report which ranks states on how well they identify and serve homeless youth. Montana is ranked 17th out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Superintendent Arntzen reviewed the report with OPI’s homeless education coordinator to discuss how Montana can better serve our homeless student population.


Montana is working to better serve our homeless students through our state plan for the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Superintendent Arntzen pulled back Montana’s plan on March 13th in order to update and build upon the plan. An important reason for this is that one of three new federal requirements from March requires state ESSA plans to advise and prepare homeless youth for college and careers.


“We must do better to serve all Montana students. Montana’s constitutional requirement to develop the full educational potential of each person is a priority as State Superintendent. I am proud that Montana’s ESSA state plan will have a strategy to address the needs of homeless students by beginning with better identification,” Arntzen said Monday.


During the 2015-2016 school year there were 3,058 homeless students counted in Montana. The number of homeless students has historically been underreported, especially with reservation communities. Part of the solution for identifying and serving will be creating a focused campaign to bring awareness to the increased risk of mental health issues and suicide among homeless youth.


“We have gone down in the rankings from 10th to 17th. Even though our rank went down, we improved in four of the five indicators and are continuing to work with communities to identify homeless youth,” Heather Denny, OPI’s Instructional Coordinator for Educational Opportunity and Equity, said Monday.


Superintendent Arntzen will release a draft of Montana’s full state ESSA plan on July 12th for public input. More information can be found on OPI’s website.




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