TCAPS Community Members Call for Resignations, Town Hall Meeting

The next Traverse City Schools board meeting is weeks away, but some parents and community members want answers now about what’s happening in northern Michigan’s largest school district.

Days after Friday’s Special Meeting of the TCAPS School Board, there are still unanswered questions about the disagreements between board members – and whether it involves the leader of the district.

Grand Traverse County resident and former TCAPS Parent Andy Marek says, “There’s a lot more questions then we have answers. So we have one side of the story.”

Superintendent Ann Cardon has been on the job for two and a half months. But speculation ran wild at Friday’s Special School board meeting about her future. Parent Ian Ashton says he was caught off guard. “Having followed the school board before all this erupted and all the excitement that surrounded Ann when she initially came on, it was like being blindsided when all of this –  the rumor started coming out. It quickly appeared to turn into sort of like a witch hunt. Pitchforks out and everybody, it became a mob mentality with no information coming out.”

Trustee Erica Moon-Mohr says other board members are trying to get rid of Ann Cardon.  The division on the board is also reflected in the community, with some calling for the resignation of school board members, on the Facebook group called “TCAPS Transparency in Education.”

Others, like Andy Marek, just want to understand what’s really happening. “Recall is for something really egregious, and we don’t know what’s happened yet.” He says it’s too soon for talk of recall or pressuring for resignations. “Unfortunately a lot of people have hopped onto this group-thought of ‘we’ve got to get rid of people’ before we even know what’s going on.” He adds, “Maybe they are just doing their job and trying to make sure the superintendent is on board with what the majority of the board desires for the administrator to do.”

Even though the petition comes with little information available from the board or the school district, parent Ian Ashton says he’s signed it. “Given the choice between not knowing anything, or the veiled secrecy or transparency, I’m going to take the transparency side every time.”

Parent Michele Worden has also signed it. She says the unknowns about the closed sessions aren’t worth the wait. “I think sometimes the lack of an answer tells you as much as an answer would.”  She adds, “I don’t really think we have time to waste. I look at this from the perspective of Ann Cardon. Is she going to be able to work with this board? Will we be able to attract a quality leader like her in the future if those board members continue to serve?”

Questions remain unanswered – but Board President Sue Kelly has said she’s bound by the law not to discuss what is discussed in Closed Session. Marek doesn’t like the attacks against her, and points out the School Board was elected. He reiterated his feeling that it’s too soon to jump to conclusions. “I think the most concerning thing that happened over the last couple of days is that people have hopped on the bandwagon of, we’ve got to go after the chair of TCAPS (Kelly). People are ready to crucify someone who is refusing to break the silence or the oath they took not to violate the confidentiality that occurs in those closed sessions.”

Michele Worden says the expertise of the Superintendent is more valuable to the community than a disagreement between school board members.  “It almost doesn’t matter what the reasons for the disagreement between these two (Kelly and Moon-Mohr) are.” Worden went on to say that school board members “are pretty easy to replace. We have lots of great leaders in our community that could serve as a board president or serve on a board, either through appointment or special election.”

Ian Ashton wants a community forum or town hall meeting, where the public can hear from all sides outside of a school board meeting. “Everywhere else in every other facet of our lives there are public forums and town halls and there’s been no call for that or no suggestion of that, outside of the closed-door board meetings or normally scheduled board meetings.” He says it just an idea for now, but it is gaining traction on social media. Ashton says the idea came from a note his child brought home from pre-school, declaring it was “Kindness Week.” He says, “How ironic that it is Kindness Week when we have all of these adults screaming at each other. It didn’t seem like the right example to be setting for our kids. We should practice what we preach.”

9 & 10 reached out to the Superintendent’s office. Ann Cardon has said she is not commenting. Meanwhile, the next TCAPS School Board meeting is set for October 28th.