Clintondale school board administrator quits, cites ‘bullying atmosphere’ – Macomb Daily
A Clintondale school board member has resigned from elected office, saying he fears for the safety of his family because the administration has fostered a “culture of threats, harassment and intimidation”.
This decision comes three months before the expiration of the mandate of Jeremy Schnaidt.
In a seemingly unrelated decision, the chairman of the board ordered a halt to live board meetings, after a Youtube channel was created specifically to broadcast the meetings.
In a letter to the school board, Schnaidt said he was leaving although he was disappointed with the behavior of board chairwoman Beverly Lewis-Moss, as well as Eugenia Williams, administrative assistant to Superintendent Rod Broadnax and responsible of special education. Belinda Hicks.
“Leaders in this district continue to enable and at times appear to encourage a culture of threats, intimidation and bullying,” he wrote. “I know because it was allowed to escalate specifically towards me.”
In an interview, Schnaidt said the threats and lies had become too much for his family, including his wife, 10-year-old son and 6-month-old daughter. He said their safety and mental well-being are more important than holding Clintondale officials and employees accountable for their actions.
The latest incident took place a few weeks ago, when Schnaidt said he was talking with other employees in the parking lot when he was approached by Williams, who claimed he had verbally abused other people. . He said he drove away, but Williams followed him and stopped his vehicle from leaving the lot.
After exchanging words, Williams finally relented and let him go, adding, “‘I know where you live,'” according to Schnaidt. He reported the incident to the superintendent who “did nothing about it”.
Williams did not respond to emails or phone calls seeking comment.
About the school board president — who critics say frequently speaks to people during the public comment section of the agenda — Schnaidt says she’s not in the habit of preparing the order of the day before a few hours before the meeting. Even then, he says, it’s often filled with typos.
“One week she gave us six different versions of the same agenda,” Schnaidt said.
A statement released on behalf of Lewis-Moss said, “Members of the Clintondale Community Schools School Board take their role as community representatives to the school district seriously.
Public bodies, such as the Clintondale Board of Education, must post notice of a meeting 24 hours in advance, but are not required to post the agenda at that time.
“As such, we follow Michigan opening meeting law, including attention to a quorum when required, proper notice of meetings posted on the district website, and allowing members of the board to participate and vote in meetings remotely, as permitted by the Michigan attorney. the general’s opinion on this subject. There is no requirement to post an agenda prior to public board meetings,” Moss said in the statement.
Jessica McGivney, division chief of the state operations division of the Michigan attorney general’s office, agreed.
She said a notice to public bodies must contain the name of the public body, as well as the dates, times and locations of meetings.
“(Although) the Open Meetings Act requires a public body to give public notice of its meetings, the OMA does not require the public body to provide a specific agenda or statement as to the purpose of a meeting – no agenda format is required by the OMA,” McGivney wrote in an email.
Hicks, the director of special services, hired personal friends into the department, sent “nasty” emails to the board and called board members “pathetic,” according to Schnaidt. She also did not respond to requests for comment.
All three women are black. The outgoing administrator said it added a racial aspect to already strained relations.
“It’s like I’m alone on an island, no one else on the board is saying anything, so I get called a racist, a hater for nothing,” Schnaidt said. “It’s too much for my family.”
Clintondale has been harassed by dozens of resigning employees in recent months. In the special services department alone, there were two dozen, according to reviews.
Michael Scott, an outgoing board member, said he “agreed that some of their behavior could be considered bullying, and the superintendent was supposed to investigate and contact our attorneys about it.”
Scott said he was unsure if the attorney was contacted because the chairman and council superintendent advised the district attorney to only contact them and no other council members or employees of the council. ‘school. He said there had been no updates to the school board.
This is the latest in a series of dramatic eruptions involving school officials in southern Clinton Township.
Crowded school board meetings earlier this year witnessed disputes between Broadnax, Lewis-Moss and residents over the superintendent’s alleged poor spending of school district money and not having credentials required for his job.
In July, a whistleblower group said Clintondale officials violated their fiduciary responsibilities by spending taxpayer money on personal items such as alcohol and late-night Uber rides at a conference in San Diego. Officials – with the exception of Hicks – agreed to return the funds, saying the issue amounted to confusion over policies.
Additionally, the Clintondale community heard allegations of wrongdoing from three employees, who were temporarily suspended with pay while the matter is investigated. The three are back to work now.
The live broadcast is coming to an end
Meanwhile, the board stopped livestreaming its meetings for the past month. This took place after district officials worked on creating a YouTube channel to watch the meetings.
When asked why Clintondale suddenly stopped showing board meetings, Lewis-Moss replied “because we’re obligated not to, now that Covid is gone.”
She declined any further comment.
“While board meetings have been streamed on YouTube in the past, as part of our efforts to keep the community informed during the COVID pandemic, like so many of our neighboring districts, we have decided to stop streaming the public board meetings to minimize the costs associated with doing so,” Broadnax said.
This came as a shock to the other board members.
“I was very surprised that this happened,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell said that due to recent surgery, he was unable to attend the last school board meeting. He tried to watch from home, only to find out later that a decision had been made to end the practice.
“The same thing happened when we stopped allowing the public to attend Zoom,” Mitchell said. “I told the president and the superintendent at that time that it was not a good way to do it, if we wanted to stop it should be announced at the previous meeting. I was told that we didn’t need to stream and we didn’t even need to post an agenda. Which I don’t think is good practice if we really want community involvement.”
Former school board president Jason Davidson, another administration critic and president, said he found it particularly troubling that the decision not to broadcast the meetings came without public notice or a board vote.
Davidson said past meetings were also removed from YouTube, even though they are important to an ongoing court case and criminal investigation.
“This elimination of transparency and openness is deeply troubling, especially with the multiple police investigations into district personnel, including the superintendent, executive secretary and a teacher; a spending freeze due to budgetary problems; concerns about superintendent references and expenses; and following the resignation of six other people,” Davidson said.
Schnaidt was elected in 2020 to a two-year term created by the departure of another school trustee. His old seat is up in the November elections for a six-year term.
But due to his late resignation, his name will still be on the ballot.
Schnaidt said depending on what happens “from the outside to create change in the district,” he would consider returning if voters choose him in November.
“I put my heart and soul into this district and I didn’t want to be part of their culture of threats, bullying and bullying,” he said. “And Rod (Broadnax) has to stop it.”
In response, Superintendent Broaddnax said “we appreciate Jeremy Schnaidt’s commitment to Clintondale Community Schools and for his service to the school board”.
He said the board will identify a replacement for his seat in accordance with district policy as council members continue to focus on ensuring children in the community have access to high-quality education to support their academic, social and emotional growth.
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