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Posted on Thu, Sep 6, 2012 : 2:59 p.m.

Ann Arbor Pioneer principal search down to 2 candidates

By Danielle Arndt

After fielding 41 applications for the Pioneer High School principal’s position, Ann Arbor administrators are evaluating two candidates who made it to the final round of interviews, said district spokeswoman Liz Margolis.


Pioneer High School

Former Pioneer Principal Michael White retired at the end of the 2011-12 academic year to take a job in Illinois, and Assistant Principal Kevin Hudson is serving as the interim head principal.

In mid-July, Margolis said the principal’s position at Pioneer would remain interim for the “foreseeable future,” adding she was unsure whether Hudson would remain at the helm for the duration of the 2012-13 academic year. When the position originally was posted, the district looked both internally and externally for candidates.

Margolis said on Wednesday that Green was still assessing the position and a timeline had not been set.

But with the school year now under way, parents and staff want to know what the timeframe is for making a decision.

“Lack of information can be deadly for schools because it leads to a lack of confidence in processes,” said Pioneer math teacher Michele Macke.

Macke said in Ann Arbor, staff and school leaders generally try to avoid the infamous "rumor mill," but that's exactly what has happened as the result of the hiring delay.

Macke has served on interview committees for previous hires, both as a parent and a teacher. Her daughter has participated in the process in the past as well. Macke called this year’s timeline unusually slow and said it’s made a number of parents and staff uneasy. She said it was her impression the finalists' names were given to Superintendent Patricia Green for consideration at least three weeks ago.

“People want to know their administration is competent enough to make a decision in a timely fashion,” she said. “At the start of the year, the principal sets the direction. People expected a decision would have been made by now.”

Following Wednesday’s school board meeting, Green declined to provide a status update and would not confirm how close the administration is to hiring a new principal. She said the position is “still in process” and when a decision has been finalized, it will be communicated to Pioneer parents.

Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at



Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 11 a.m.

While they delay making a decision on the new principal the students in various classes, including Calculus which is essential for anyone hoping to get admitted into a "good" college, are left with substitute teachers. This year has not started out well at Pioneer.

Basic Bob

Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 2:35 p.m.

Regardless of which math class you take in high school, a "good" university or college will require you to take their real calculus course from a real math professor. There is a difference.


Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 1:15 a.m.

I really don't want to let the negative comments about Pioneer's current climate to continue unchecked. I do not think that things are dire at Pioneer, and I am there everyday. The principals that are at Pioneer are doing a good job managing the start of school, and cette is correct in stating that students are, for the most part, doing just fine. This doesn't mean we can let things continue as they are. A head principal is vested in the longterm and has responsibility for making the hard decisions. Our assistant and interim principals are working hard but do not get paid to help move the school toward a common goal, set the tone, advocate for the school with central administration, etc. They are there to help the head principal with those jobs. Having a head principal support the assistant principals and give direction to the staff as a whole is a necessity. Monday will be Capsule Night at school and parents should have had an opportunity to meet their new principal then. It is embarrassing that this has gone on this long. Where is the school board?

Tony Livingston

Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 1:28 p.m.

The staff at Pioneer always maintain that everything is wonderful there. Just ask. But, we have had kids there for the last 5 years straight and it has been anything but smooth and wonderful. First White was principal, then he was gone for a year and there was and interim. Then he was back and now there is another interim. who knows who will be next. The guidance counselors change every year and both my kids had 3 different ones in 4 years. There are substitute teachers who are there for weeks while feet are dragged to hire a permanent teacher. Every spring, teachers have been offloaded, mostly to Skyline. No one knows who is staying and who is leaving. Thank goodness they finally did remove the portable classrooms. Yes, it has been chaotic.


Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 1:47 a.m.

While i certainly don't doubt what others are saying, I agree with your post for the most part. It is very unprofessional to not have a principal to introduce on Capsule Night. I may just be lucky that I haven't experienced any problems (yet).


Fri, Sep 7, 2012 : 11:53 p.m.

Time to do another Superintendent search. This one is horrible.


Fri, Sep 7, 2012 : 9:51 p.m.

The superintendent has her own website. Is this standard for educators to do now? I am not in the field so maybe it's not unusual. It makes me wonder if she is looking for a new job and trying to get her name out there as an executive educator with national appeal?


Fri, Sep 7, 2012 : 7:15 p.m.

As a parent of three AAPS students, a taxpayer AND an AAPS teacher of 21 years, I can comfortably say that the current situation at Pioneer is fast becoming intolerable. By no measure is it at all appropriate for PHS to not have a competent principal at this time. (Really, there should have been one in place by July at the latest.) We also know that there was, according to the members of the interview committee, a perfectly able and highly competent AAPS administrator ready to take the reins at Pioneer. Danielle, an excellent question to ask Ms. Green would be, "Why did you not take the suggestion of the interview committee to hire the internal candidate that EVERYONE KNOWS would be best for Pioneer?" To cut to the chase, I'll supply the answer: it's all about power and political positioning. It is, unfortunately, not about what is best for Pioneer or the students. Ms. Green doesn't want a principal at Pioneer who, like Michael White, has too much support, as he/she might become a challenge to her perceived power. That's it in a nutshell. And it's really, really sad. (Personally, I think it is completely unacceptable.) Unfortunately, the School Board won't act to correct Ms. Green's behavior because it would be an admission that they, in fact, chose the wrong, very expensive candidate. No one wants to loose face. So now, because of a superintendent's ego trip, we need to suffer (correction . . . the kids will suffer), while we spend precious time and money finding a sub-mediocre candidate with a long learning curve. PATHETIC! Ann Arbor taxpayers deserve much, much better. (And the reporting on this really should be much more thorough. (Hint: don't go to Balas, go over to Pioneer and see for yourself. Speak to the faculty, office personnel, and to the students & parents themselves. Get the real, whole story. I'm pretty sure Green can't place a gag-order on you or transfer you to Roberto, so you'll be safe.)

Tony Livingston

Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 1:31 p.m.

Glad your son is doing well, Cette. But that does not mean that things are going smoothly for others. In the best of times, Pioneer is a very difficult maze to navigate. They managed to hire a new athletic director and have her there working in August. How can the principal not be there at the start of the school year?


Fri, Sep 7, 2012 : 10:02 p.m.

See, that's the problem. No one on the outside knows. It would be completely inappropriate for teachers to complain to students. News media only get info from Balas Administrators. As a teacher, I see what's going on, and think to myself, "how can this happen in a place like Ann Arbor?" As a parent, I make sure that my kids get what they need. As a taxpayer, I'M STEAMING MAD AT THE WASTE AND RIP-OFFS that plague this district. It should be better than this.


Fri, Sep 7, 2012 : 8:50 p.m.

Thank you for telling me that. I have not heard one word about this until now.


Fri, Sep 7, 2012 : 8:31 p.m.

Cette- 1. Scheduling is completely messed up. (Not a new problem.) What happens when you have too many teachers one hour, but not enough another? What happens when you schedule single classes (one-of-a-kind classes) all during 4th hour? What happens is that kids don't get the classes they need, or they have to sit on the floor or window ledge. Example: kids placed in German 3 when they're not even German language students. The list like this goes on and on. Want to know details, talk to the counseling staff. They're fed up. 2. Many classes with over 36, while there are at least 4 teachers teachers being paid their full salary while ONLY teaching 3 or 4 classes. Taxpayers are being ripped off. Why the news has not picked up on this is beyond me. 3. Communication problems - teachers not being informed what classes they were to teach until just three weeks ago. (No time to plan or prepare.) I'm sorry, but that's a real problem. 4. There's a feeling on staff that no one in in charge. The assistants are working really hard, and some of them are quite good, but they're way over-worked. Actually, it's a testament to their hard work and the professionalism of the staff that has protected your son from feeling the chaos boiling underneath the surface. We're just trying to keep our heads above water, and Ms. Green is NOT helping the situation by stalling with making a decision.


Fri, Sep 7, 2012 : 7:54 p.m.

Great Post! Too bad this story is already on the end of the second page. Heaven help we miss out on another UM football story or the breaking news of seized goats and donkeys!!


Fri, Sep 7, 2012 : 7:53 p.m.

I guess, I just don't see the crisis...please someone explain.


Fri, Sep 7, 2012 : 7:52 p.m.

My son has been attending Pioneer just fine since the school year started. I'm not sure what you're talking about. What is happening that is intolerable?


Fri, Sep 7, 2012 : 4:13 p.m.

Sounds like the district as a whole, teachers, students, parents, staff (and I am sure that candidates) are just tired of being in transition waiting for a decision. Time to ante up and make one whether it be one of the current candidates or another round of interviewees. Uncertainty does no one any good - 3 weeks should be enough time to decide at least on some sort of a direction.

Dr. I. Emsayin

Fri, Sep 7, 2012 : 3:16 p.m.

With what degree of seriousness does Superintendent Green take the recommendations of the interview committee?

Danielle Arndt

Fri, Sep 7, 2012 : 1:53 p.m.

A little more information about the process from district spokeswoman Liz Margolis: Ann Arbor Public Schools does not release the names of finalists for positions under the Ann Arbor Administrators Association's collective bargaining agreement. Also per the Quad A agreement, the team that convenes for the interviews contains staff and representatives from parent groups. Then the superintendent makes the final decision on the candidate... So to answer readers' question, I cannot verify whether or not Kevin Hudson is being considered for the position on a permanent basis.


Fri, Sep 7, 2012 : 8:21 p.m.

There are some people who act like the building is on fire, when there's an interim principal in place and interviews continuing.Honest to God, what is the problem? Is it class size people really don't like or is it that Dr. Green is working on PBIS? Or is this all a tempest in a teapot and ginned up by the union folks and they are just angling for gains in their contracts? Which is the big problem that has some consistent commentators besides themselves? Is it the behavior piece? I think that's where the real story is, not this kvetching and melodrama about how things are falling to pieces. My kid has had a very orderly and calm experience so far, so what the???


Fri, Sep 7, 2012 : 7:53 p.m.

AAPS and gag orders are nothing new, reference the Dicken School debacle.


Fri, Sep 7, 2012 : 5:49 p.m.

Danielle- If you are interviewing or talking to more sources that you are reporting, it would help me and maybe other readers, too, if you would put that in your articles. Many of your articles primarily quote Liz Margolis so I get the impression that you are rewriting press releases or just talking to the p.r. rep for the district. Thank you for inviting me and other readers to call the newsroom and for all the work you do writing about education for I have the impression that the news superintendent has issued a gag order on her staff. So I a2edu is on the right track with his/her comment.


Fri, Sep 7, 2012 : 3:06 p.m.

One of the problems is that your only source of information is Liz Margolis, the district spokesperson. Do you really think you're getting the truth out of a Balis mouth-piece? Employees can't speak out because of retaliation by administration (or else you'll end up at Roberto). But, if you dig a little deeper on this story, you'll find that the handling of this "decision-making" process has been completely bungled by Ms. Greene. How can Pioneer not have a principal MONTHS after Michael White's announced departure? The school is in a nose-dive. It's only a matter of time before someone calls Fox news to blow the lid off of what's going on.

Danielle Arndt

Fri, Sep 7, 2012 : 3:02 p.m.

Also aaparent, if you ever want to engage in a conversation outside of this forum. I am always open to having phone conversations with readers and parents in the school community. I would encourage and welcome you to give me a call sometime. I would love to chat with you more about what you're seeing in the schools and what we can do to serve you and the community as a whole better. My number is (734) 623-2515, call anytime!

Danielle Arndt

Fri, Sep 7, 2012 : 2:56 p.m.

aaparent, I appreciate your constant feedback. I speak with a variety of individuals from all sectors of the school community, including parents, students and teachers, for every story I write. Not all individuals wish to speak on the record and, by the same token, not all interviews and information make it in to every story. We are constantly striving to provide readers a more complete view of what takes place in the schools, but also try to be respectful of source's wishes and district procedures. It's a delicate balance. Thank you again for your inquiry and suggestions.


Fri, Sep 7, 2012 : 2:34 p.m.

Danielle-about your comment above: is your only source of information as a journalist Liz Margolis? Are you free to contact the administrator's union (is that what Quad A is?) or the teacher's union president, Linda Carter. Have you spoken to any of the parents on the Pioneer PTSO or students on student council? I appreciate your coverage of the schools but think that more comments through face-to-face interviews (not just comments or Twitter) with people in the community might help readers get a fuller picture of what is happening in the schools. This is bad form for the district to undermine Pioneer's leadership after the school year started. The last thing Ann Arbor needs is one of the superintendent's old female buddies from the East Coast or an outlying district in Michigan. How many times has Superintendent Green been inside the building of Pioneer or other schools in the district to get to know how the schools and the teaching and administrative staff? Don Bee commented in another story that she has visited all the school buildings only once since she arrived. What about doing a feature article on Green's management style and comparing it to past superintendents? I don't think her style is a good fit for the district and can move it forward in tough times. She seems to be most concerned with image and show and not interested in getting to know the people she is supposed to lead.


Fri, Sep 7, 2012 : 1:47 a.m.

The reason they don't have a Principal is she is not confident in the current leaders at Pioneer and was hoping for something better. Problem is, nothing better is in the running so she is stuck. She is stalling hoping to convince one of her past principals to come to AA.


Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 7:34 p.m.

Compound - you are quite correct. There is something very suspect here, and it is Ms. Green.


Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 7:33 p.m.

Not according to the principal selections committee. The committee highly recommended an internal candidate. The ONLY person who didn't agree was Green, a person not even familiar with AAPS.


Fri, Sep 7, 2012 : 1:54 p.m.

I am usually not a conspiracy theorist, but something does seem a little suspect in all of this.

Susie Q

Fri, Sep 7, 2012 : 2:17 a.m.

Makes sense. This has dragged on for about 3-4 months. There have been two postings and I believe the staff at PHS has expressed their preferences, yet no principal has been announced. When one is announced, she/he will not have the full confidence of the PHS community, since the decision was so delayed. If there are only two finalists.....what's the hold up?

Macabre Sunset

Fri, Sep 7, 2012 : 1:06 a.m.

I think Ann Arbor has a superintendent gap.


Sat, Sep 8, 2012 : 7:37 p.m.

Yeah, what interactions? She makes herself completely inaccessible. Just try to make an appointment to speak with her highness.


Fri, Sep 7, 2012 : 1:50 p.m.

what interactions?

J. A. Pieper

Fri, Sep 7, 2012 : 1:35 a.m.

Yes, and this is also our achievement gap, because she sure demonstrates this in her interactions with the community!

Dog Guy

Fri, Sep 7, 2012 : 12:42 a.m.

Kevin Hudson is good, but who is the other candidate from the deep well of AAPS talent?


Fri, Sep 7, 2012 : 3:48 p.m.

Maybe they'll hit the PC trifecta-----female, minority with a handicap.

Basic Bob

Fri, Sep 7, 2012 : 8:45 a.m.

Probably female, unlikely an internal candidate. Someone willing to come here with an exception to the salary cap. Perhaps they can create a new title of uber-principal.

Erich Jensen

Thu, Sep 6, 2012 : 11:31 p.m.

Mrs Green doen't respond to or recognize the public need in a timely manner. Recently this has also happened with regards to redundant and expensive sidewalk repair at the Pattengill School.


Thu, Sep 6, 2012 : 11:11 p.m.

Is Mr. Hudson one of the two candidates being considered? I think the superintendent is out of line stating that the Pioneer community of students, teachers and parents will be told when she is good and ready to announce her grand plan.


Fri, Sep 7, 2012 : 3:19 p.m.

hopefully he isn't being seriously considered. He's not exactly what you would call a hard worker


Thu, Sep 6, 2012 : 11:06 p.m.

Read the first three paragraphs, and guess what needs proofreading! Hint: it has to do with our illustrious superintendent. I love reading, I could start a game out of the consistent typographical errors in your articles :)


Thu, Sep 6, 2012 : 10:10 p.m.

They did this with Tappan. When White left Ms Parks was left in charge as interim. She got the position at the end of the year. I was happy to hear this because she did a great job during that year. Kevin Hudson I believe will be the new principal and this is why they are hedging. Most times a sub is usually getting a few looks when a position becomes open. Fingers crossed. Mr Hudson.


Fri, Sep 7, 2012 : 4:41 p.m.

Disagree. Our child is at Pioneer and says things are really different now that he is in charge. When White was in Afghanistan Hudson took over. Things went from bad to worse when he was in charge. At least that was the rumor. From what I am getting email and phone wise, he is cracking down on the rules and enforcing others. I'd like to see what else gets down under this guys leadership.


Fri, Sep 7, 2012 : 3:18 p.m.

Hudson would be a TERRIBLE principle


Thu, Sep 6, 2012 : 8:25 p.m.

I have volunteered with the AAPS for years and served on hiring committee's. I do not know Ms. Green, but I don't think Ms. Green "knows" her AAPS student and parent and staff needs. The school community needs transparency in the process being taken and a timeline for completion. If Ms. Green was quoted accurately, I found her statements to be lacking and unfriendly. She is the professional that was also selected by a hiring committee to do the job for this district. She is supposed to be responsive to her community and get the job done. Her comment regarding "when a decision has been finalized it will be communicated to the Pioneer parents" is dismissive and insulting. I am no longer a parent of a student in the district, but I am still a taxpayer and I'm offended that she would respond in that fashion to her stakeholders. Get it done, Green, and let the Ann Arbor Community know who will lead Pioneer. Stop stalling and being rude. (When is her contract up?)

Ruth Kraut

Tue, Sep 11, 2012 : 11:56 p.m.

Patricia Green has a five year contract that started July 1, 2011.

Nick Danger

Thu, Sep 6, 2012 : 8:10 p.m.

why not tell us their names after all it is a public school


Thu, Sep 6, 2012 : 7:41 p.m.

I think it is about time we started a search for a new Superintendent. Green is beyond awful.


Fri, Sep 7, 2012 : 10:10 p.m.

You know, looking back a few superintendents, the pattern seems to be, 1. Get hired at a BIG salary, 2. Screw up the district, or cost the district BIG bucks, 3. Leave town with tail between legs, or get contract bought out, costing BIG bucks. I guess we get the school board and leadership we deserve. But I would really like to know how can we avoid this in the future?


Fri, Sep 7, 2012 : 2:45 p.m.

Maybe a lawsuit would be worth it to get rid of her before she completes her mission and leaves town with a padded resume. Did she buy a residence in Ann Arbor and pay taxes or is she renting and retaining a home back East where she came from?


Fri, Sep 7, 2012 : 2:29 p.m.

Unfortunately it will cost at least $500,000 to terminate the contract, based on what it says. Since the board did not do a formal evaluation, and did not put one on record, there is no basis to fire Dr. Green. So expect a lawsuit if she does not decide to leave on her own.

Basic Bob

Fri, Sep 7, 2012 : 8:39 a.m.

Since the day she started... how many months was she paid before she made her first appearance, other than at a school board meeting. We know how often they meet in the summer.


Fri, Sep 7, 2012 : 12:44 a.m.

@jns131..I guess I made the mistake of giving her the benefit of doubt. How and why decisions on leadership are made in Ann Arbor are beyond comprehension.


Thu, Sep 6, 2012 : 10:12 p.m.

What gave you the first clue? She has been since the day she started.


Thu, Sep 6, 2012 : 7:38 p.m.

Didn't the Board bump the salary during the superintendent search to get "the best in country?"


Thu, Sep 6, 2012 : 10:23 p.m.

No, just the most expensive. That's what you do when you have unlimited resources but not enough knowledge to identify the best.


Thu, Sep 6, 2012 : 7:29 p.m.

It's amazing that she won't give a timeline, or that the School Board doesn't demand one.


Thu, Sep 6, 2012 : 10:12 p.m.

They didn't with the principal at Tappan. By spring we knew who.


Thu, Sep 6, 2012 : 7:08 p.m.

Whoever used the phrase "achievement gap" the most during the interview process will win the job.


Thu, Sep 6, 2012 : 8:55 p.m.

I stand corrected ;)


Thu, Sep 6, 2012 : 8:52 p.m.

I believe Superintendent Green's new phrase is the "discipline gap".