The brand new Traverse City Area Public Schools superintendent Ann Cardon is out after just two months on the job.
Cardon announced her resignation via letter, read at a special TCAPS board meeting Thursday night.
Her resignation comes after allegations board president Sue Kelly and others bullied her and wanted to push her out.
“I believe that she has been bullied from day one, and undermined by board members,” said board trustee Erica Moon Mohr. “She’s been here for 60 days and this has been going on for 60 days.”
Moon Mohr spoke out about these allegations at a different special meeting last Friday. Then, she said Kelly wrote a six page letter outlining complaints about Cardon, and that Kelly had called around to every other board member to trash talk Cardon. These complaints were allegedly discussed in closed meetings.
These allegations prompted TCAPS’ lawyer to tell Moon Mohr to “back down” or face legal consequence if she continued to talk about discussions and developments that occurred in closed session.
Kelly said Thursday that Cardon’s departure reflects concerns about privacy, and having information disclosed that was spoken in closed session.
“The disclosure of confidential information creates a situation where she can no longer function in this district,” said Kelly. “How long can we continue with trust in this district?”
Kelly declined to comment further about reasons for her departure. She would not confirm or deny whether Cardon did any wrongdoing during her term as superintendent.
Cardon had a three year contract with the district and a $184,000 yearly salary with opportunity for bonuses.
Moon Mohr believes she will have to be paid a severance package, likely costing tens of thousands of dollars. She said whatever the figure is, it will be hard for TCAPS to finance.
“I would probably say no [we won’t be able to afford it], considering that our budget isn’t balanced,” said Moon Mohr. “Once again, this will hurt TCAPS.”
Moon Mohr says the transition and departure in leadership creates dysfunction and turmoil in the district.
“The kids will be fine, but for the staff, the TCAPS staff, this is devastating,” said Moon Mohr.
Kelly says the district just needs to put one put in front of the other to move forward.
“We get up tomorrow morning, we go out, and get the kids and we teach in the classrooms,” said Kelly. “We are supporting Ann’s decision. It was her request.”
Kelly announced the selection of an interim superintendent, Jim Pavelka, on Thursday. The board unanimously voted in favor of the selection.
Jim Pavelka is a T.C. resident and former TCAPS superintendent. He served in that role for five years in the early 2000’s and retired after the 2004-2005 school year.
He also served as interim superintendent at Houghton Lake Schools in February 2006, but stepped down for personal reasons in July of that same year. Overall, he has more than 26 years of experience as a superintendent.
He starts his new role on Friday.
Kelly says there is not a timeline to find a permanent superintendent.
Meanwhile, many community members at Thursday’s meeting called for the resignations of Sue Kelly, and board members Jeff Leonhardt, Pamela Forton, and Jane Klegman.
“I really hope the board members can listen and step down for the best interest of this community,” said Moon Mohr.
Moon Mohr also added that if she needs to also step down for the district to thrive, she would do that.