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Posted on Wed, Nov 18, 2009 : 11:10 p.m.

Ann Arbor school board Trustee Helen Gates-Bryant resigns

By David Jesse

Longtime Ann Arbor school board member Helen Gates-Bryant resigned from her position tonight, citing personal and economic reasons.

Her resignation was effective at the end of the meeting.

In offering her resignation, Gates-Bryant said while the remaining trustees face great challenges, they're up to the task of making cuts while preserving Ann Arbor’s education quality.

“Because I know this is an awesome board, I know this board is up for the challenge," she said. "I’m encouraging you to stay the course. You’re doing the right things.”

Board members said during almost seven years on the board, Gates-Bryant championed the voice of those without voices and also helped in the process of building the new Skyline High School.

“I have not one iota of a doubt that the education of students in this district is better because of Helen’s work,” Trustee Glenn Nelson said.

After receiving a hug and a plaque recognizing her service on the board from board President Deb Mexicotte, Gates-Bryant choked up as she made her final remarks.

“This has really been hard. I have really enjoyed the service I’ve been able to provide, and I really want to thank the community for giving me the opportunity," she said. "I’m going to truly miss being here at the table.”

Gates-Bryant was elected at a time of turmoil in the district and on the board. During her tenure, members worked to unify the school board, hire Superintendent Todd Roberts and administrate a more than $240 million bond issue that built Skyline and renovated all the district’s schools. She has been serving as a committee chair for several years, including the planning committee this school year.

The school board has 30 days to appoint a replacement. The replacement will serve until the end of the school year. A regular school election will be held in May, and Gates-Bryant's seat will be up for election then.

Those interested in filling the vacancy can send a resume, a letter of interest no longer than two pages and three letters of recommendation by Nov. 30 to the district's headquarters. The candidates will be interviewed in open session with a Dec. 16 date for final vote.

Once a selection is made, the candidate is immediately sworn in and seated at the board table.

David Jesse covers K-12 education for He can be reached at or at 734-623-2534.


David Jesse

Thu, Nov 19, 2009 : 3:23 p.m.

Here's the official press release from the school district: PRESS RELEASE November 19, 2009 The Ann Arbor Board of Education is seeking applicants to fill the vacated seat on the Board through June 30, 2010. Pursuant to Michigan Election Law (MCL 168.302), an individual wishing to serve on the Board must be: A citizen of the United States; Eighteen (18) years of age or older; A resident of the Ann Arbor Public School District for thirty (30) days; and Registered to vote. All those interested in submitting their name for the seat should indicate by written application to: Amy Osinski Ann Arbor Board of Education 2555 South State Street Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104 OR FAX to: 734-994-2414 OR Email to: Applications must contain: A resume which includes applicants home address, telephone, and (if applicable) email address A letter of intent (no more than two pages) detailing your experiences and the qualifications you would bring to board service. The application must be in the Board office no later than 4:00 pm on Monday, November 30, 2009. We invite the community to submit possible questions to be used in the interview process. Questions must be submitted to or to the above address no later than 4:00 pm on Monday, November 30. Applicants will be interviewed by members of the Board of Education on Tuesday, December 8, 2009. Applicants will then be required to make a brief public statement at the December 16, 2009 Board of Education Meeting to be held at the Ann Arbor District Library at 7:00 p.m. A candidate will be selected and seated on December 16, 2009 by a majority vote of the Board of Education.

Marvin Face

Thu, Nov 19, 2009 : 9:11 a.m.

I think Mr Friedman should recruit someone from the Board of Detroit Country Day School to replace Gates-Bryant. I think it's healthy to have a balance of opinions from the outside.


Thu, Nov 19, 2009 : 9 a.m.

I hope that the School Board will take a serious look at involving parents of students in the district to this appointed position. As the good Dr. I. Emsayin pointed out above, parents have a particular stake in the schools and are more apt to share information with the community from a parent perspective. What we don't need is another person that does not have a student(s) enrolled in the district or someone who is there to enhance their political or social standings in the community. Also, another criteria should be a representative from a segment of the community not currently represented such as the Hispanic and/or Asian or Arabic. We need a multiplicity of voices on the Board.

Dr. I. Emsayin

Thu, Nov 19, 2009 : 8 a.m.

It would be nice to have someone who has a stake in their child's education in the Ann Arbor Schools take the place of Mrs. Gates-Bryant. Even better would be someone who is an educator with some business background. The University of Michigan has so many professors with both education and finance background, why not solicit some of them to fill the vacancy and then to run for a board position? Mr. Nelson and other board members,teachers, parents: certainly you know someone who would be a voice for Ann Arbor's school children and young adults, take a friend to lunch and have a talk!


Thu, Nov 19, 2009 : 7:12 a.m.

Friedman should resign and open up another spot for someone who really cares about Ann Arbor.


Thu, Nov 19, 2009 : 5:09 a.m.

Find someone qualified and productive and forget about the residency nits...


Thu, Nov 19, 2009 : 4 a.m.

Well In this day of open schools I guess it should not matter as long as the person applying for the spot has a child in the district.


Thu, Nov 19, 2009 : 1:34 a.m.

"Those interested in filling the vacancy can send a resume, a letter of interest no longer than two pages and three letters of recommendation... " And as we've recently learned regarding Mr. Friedman, residency apparently is not a requirement...