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Candidate for Montana OPI Superintendent accused of obstructing investigation at Harrison Public School

sharyl allen.jpeg
Posted at 12:43 PM, Apr 26, 2024

(Updated 4:12 p.m., 04/26/2024)

BUTTE — Sharyl Allen, a candidate for Montana Office of Public Instruction (OPI) Superintendent, is facing a misdemeanor charge in Madison County for allegedly obstructing a criminal investigation at Harrison Public School.

Allen, the superintendent-principal of Harrison Public School, reportedly unlawfully prevented law enforcement from interviewing students who had been identified as potential crime victims, according to court documents.

Court documents say on Monday, April 22, Allen prevented an agent from the Montana Department of Criminal Investigation (DCI) and a Madison County Sheriff's Office Captain from completing the interviews, citing a need for parental consent.

Allen also allegedly instructed staff at the school to contact parents before allowing any interviews to take place.

The Madison County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) posted a statement on social media on Friday that said an investigation was underway into a teacher who allegedly made verbal threats against a member of the Harrison School's administration on Monday, April 15.

The statement says the teacher's employment was terminated the next day, and information came to light suggesting the teacher had committed criminal acts involving students. The students are being considered as possible victims, according to the statement.

MCSO said DCI was requested to assist in the investigation due to the seriousness of the allegations and is now the lead agency. Interviews are being conducted with teachers, students, and staff in the ongoing criminal investigation.

According to court documents, on Monday Allen told the MCSO Captain and DCI agent that she "had a working relationship with Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen and his Chief of Staff Will Selph, as well as other attorneys affiliated with Knudsen."

MTN News received the following statement from the Attorney General's office:

"The DCI agents and other law enforcement officials involved were doing their jobs. The alleged comments made by Sharyl Allen regarding her relationship with the Attorney General and his staff were inappropriate. The Attorney General does not condone this type of behavior.

This is an ongoing investigation by DCI."

Allen was deputy superintendent under current OPI Superintendent Elsie Arntzen for three years. She had previously been a superintendent in Conrad and Boulder, a principal in Great Falls, and a teacher in Augusta.

MTN News has reached out to Allen for comment and has not yet received a response.