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Posted on Thu, May 2, 2013 : 2:58 p.m.

Ann Arbor Public Schools now trying to hire 3 building principals

By Danielle Arndt

As Superintendent Patricia Green prepares for her July retirement, she will play a role in filling at least three leadership positions prior to leaving the Ann Arbor Public Schools.

But some district residents have questioned whether she should be involved, given past hiring concerns and her outgoing status.


Outgoing Ann Arbor Public Schools Superintendent Patricia Green.

Courtney Sacco |

Green tendered her resignation last month, indicating her intent to retire after a 43-year career in public education. Her resignation is effective July 9.

Retirements only have just begun to trickle in at the AAPS. Burns Park Elementary School Principal Virginia Bell recently announced her retirement.

Bell has been with the district for 20 years. She began her career as a teacher and was named Huron High School assistant principal in 2002. She has been at Burns Park for the past two years.

New leaders still are needed for Skyline High School and Clague Middle School. Clague's principal position has been open since December, when it was announced that then-Principal Cindy Leaman would leave the middle school to become the leader of Pioneer High School. Pioneer's former principal, Michael White, retired at the end of the 2011-12 academic year to take a job in Illinois.

Bell's position already was posted internally. The posting came down Tuesday and the position now will be advertised externally.

Per the Ann Arbor Administrators Association's bargaining agreement, when a vacancy occurs within the union, the district must open the position to internal candidates for a period of 14 days before the job is posted externally.

School officials said at a recent budget meeting, that retirements appear to be rolling in slower than in previous years. They speculated this could be the result of AAPS eliminating its early notification incentive for staff members who inform the district in advance of their intentions to retire.

Finance Director Nancy Hoover said the incentive was cut during last year's budget process, saving AAPS $40,000 in the 2012-13 budget.

The Clague leadership position has been posted twice now, still not yielding an adequate candidate. District spokeswoman Liz Margolis said Green is looking for the best candidate for these positions and felt she needed a broader pool.

The second application period for the Clague position will end Friday. As of Wednesday, there were 22 applicants.

The first round of applications garnered a combination of 29 internal and external candidates, school officials said. The finalists from the first posting will be considered alongside the second round of applicants, Margolis said.

The Skyline High School applications are being reviewed. The position was posted both internally and externally, with the external application period ending April 2.

Skyline's principal, Sulura Jackson, tendered her resignation in March. She will be starting a new job at Chapel Hill High School in North Carolina on July 8.


Skyline High School will need a new principal for the 2013-14 academic year.

Daniel Brenner | file photo

Twenty-nine people applied for the position. Margolis could not say whether any finalists have been identified.

When the Pioneer High School leadership role was vacant, the district received 41 applications. The search was narrowed down to two people in September 2012; yet a month later, this position also was re-posted to find the "best fit" for the school, which ended up being Leaman.

It is unclear whether the Skyline principal job will be posted again or not.

During the search for a new Pioneer principal, Green was criticized for how long it took to fill the vacancy and for causing many teachers and parents at Pioneer to doubt the hiring process, when she did not consider the names submitted to her as finalists by the interview committee.

Green was also tight-lipped about her timeline for bringing someone in to fill the position.

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

Several community members now have spoken up at public dialogues on the budget and during public commentary at school board meetings since Green's resignation, stating the outgoing superintendent should not play a part in selecting new leaders for a district she is leaving.

Barbara Malcolm, a Roberto Clemente parent, said at the April 24 meeting, Green likely is the reason so many employees have left the district and she should not be put in charge of hiring and attracting new talent.

Margolis and Board of Education President Deb Mexicotte both said Green is still employed by the district as superintendent until her resignation takes effect. Until then, the usual business of the district has to go on, Mexicotte said.

She added if the board shared any residents' concerns about this, it would have come up at the board table; and she indicated this has not happened.

"Hiring is a multi-level process… It is not just the superintendent who makes these decisions. Multiple people work on any kind of hiring the district does," Mexicotte said. "It is the expectation of the board that the superintendent continue to fulfill her duties."

She added if hiring decisions have to be made after that time period, then the interim superintendent or new permanent superintendent will take over.

"People leave organizations all the time and work continues. Duties are spread or continue across normal functioning areas."

The Board of Education's goal is to appoint an interim superintendent "soon," Mexicotte said, and to have a new superintendent hired by the end of July, in time for the 2013-14 academic year.

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


Wake Up A2

Fri, May 3, 2013 : 10:25 a.m.

"During the search for a new Pioneer principal, Green was criticized for how long it took to fill the vacancy and for causing many teachers and parents at Pioneer to doubt the hiring process, when she did not consider the names submitted to her as finalists by the interview committee." Now look, Pioneer is having problems. Kids are being being told not to be late and there will be punishment for doing so, and gee, nothing happens. Pioneers principal still has the Green style of management - Stay in my office, and pass it to my minion..... None of the problems to address students failure rates have transferred from the Micheal White years and kids are now failing wholesale. So under the new principal, Pioneer is in the same boat as Sky High, goodbye AYP and NCA accreditation. So when does Pioneer get a new principal?


Fri, May 3, 2013 : 8:09 a.m.

It's apparent that the majority of commenters here think that letting a retiring superintendent assist in the hiring process for new principals is wrong. I see the two most-mentioned reasons for this opposition are: 1. "she no longer has an accountable role" and 2. "she no longer has a vested interest." Regarding #1: "accountability" isn't going to affect an experienced, proven administrator who has shown her ability and would, most probably, still be interested in helping pick educators for the position of principal. Our love for our jobs (yes, love) carries on after our leave-taking. Regarding #2: as above, "vested interest" includes the elements which causes a person to remain in a job and that never ceases, even though we've left. And this applies just as much to other jobs besides teaching. The only material question is whether the retiring person is paid or unpaid for this consulting role. One could argue either way - as this question is not considered critical unless the "pay" for consultation is large enough to affect the overall operating cost. It would be neigh impossible to object if the soon-to-be-retired consultant simply collected regular pay until actual retirement or returned voluntarily for no pay AFTER retirement. I'm sure it's unintentional but the objections to Superintendent Green's role looks a lot like the "Let's get rid of retirees Movement" that's become a mindless part of our culture. I confess to feeling a little smug because I know it's naive to think you can keep those still working from interacting with "past employees" who've been able contributors throughout their careers. And that also applies in businesses as well as in school systems. I am confident that those others who will be involved in the hiring of new principals will be able to, on their own, decide the degree of involvement by Ms. Green.

Jack Panitch

Fri, May 3, 2013 : 5:56 a.m.

Why exactly are we referring to the concerns of a Clemente student's parent, when the affected communities are Burns Park, Clague and Skyline? On the same day that KF, our former education reporter, does an investigative report that leaves no stone unturned, we get an education article underpinned by the concerns of a parent unrelated to the story. I want to know the concerns of the parents in the affected communities: they might be exactly the same, but they might not. For all we know, there has been appropriate outreach. A PTO member from these communities might say, "Oh yes, the Superintendent has been in direct communication with our parents," or maybe not. Without that homework, this story isn't complete. And, Danielle, don't get me wrong, I don't mean to criticize. What I'm hoping is that you stick around longer than the usual turnover rate for education reporters, so that you can really make a difference. But for some reason this town just chews education reporters up and then spits them out. Go figure.


Fri, May 3, 2013 : 12:27 p.m.

Because Danielle is wrong. Barbara Malcolm is a Roberto Clemente STAFF member NOT parent. So where the views of an AAPS staff member are relevant they have been denounced by reporting the wrong association with the school.

Jack Panitch

Fri, May 3, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

O.k. I do mean to criticize. Constructively. It's an interesting story, but it's focus is off, and it could be better.


Fri, May 3, 2013 : 3 a.m.

There is no justification at all for letting Dr. Greene make the final choice for principal of these schools. She no longer has a vested interest in the future of the district. If care is shown in choosing the interview committees so that the parents, students, secretaries, and teachers who are experts of their own building, are all part of the team, good outcomes will follow. We need to trust people in their own buildings. Dr. Greene's style of administration has made administrators in the district afraid to stand up for their own buildings even when they know that directives are wrong. Building administrators in the district need to step up to the plate on this one.


Fri, May 3, 2013 : 1:49 a.m.

Why hasn't Green just given up already? She's pretty much handed in her resignation; why does she get help pick new principals for AAPS? On a much more important note, why does the BOE think it's okay to let Green have any say whatsoever in this? It seems that AAPS administration has more than enough qualified people; why not let those who will be here to see the outcome have a say?

Charles Curtis

Fri, May 3, 2013 : 1:30 a.m.

Its seem to me with the possible consolidation/redistricting that is underway, perhaps BOE should only appoint temp people to these positions and finish the study. I dont see any way that some schools dont get closed in the near future with the budget situation being reported. But this is Ann Arbor where we will hire people to long term contracts that we will be on the hook for years to come, thats one of the reasons AAPS shuffles people around for those short term assignments, to max out what the tax payer are on the hook for.


Fri, May 3, 2013 : 1:23 a.m.

How can a teacher or administrator "retire to another job"? That's not retirement, that is working.

Macks Pizza

Fri, May 3, 2013 : 1:09 a.m.

A decision to fill the 3 administrative positions will not happen before the close of this school. The process of hiring in AAPS has always been fraught with speculation. More so, with the current central administration and BOE. BOE members go out in the community and get a vote, sit behind those chairs and mics and think they are experts in running a school district. The current Supt. rides in on her mighty white horse, completely alienates many central office staff, administrators, teachers and parents. The students probably don't even know that she exist, which may be a good thing. Of course she has a few staff members in her cabinet that want to keep their jobs. So they go along with the program. Shame on A2 BOE for supporting and bringing in that character to run this district. Keep Dr. Green out of any decision that includes the hiring of employees or moving this district forward.


Thu, May 2, 2013 : 11:02 p.m.

Burns Park is a special place and it has a fine principal candidate right in their building. I feel sorry for the staff that has held this school together for two years. The Burns Park teachers are so dedicated and hard working. Sometimes what you need is right in front of you.


Fri, May 3, 2013 : 6:07 p.m.

I would love to know who this is and whether the person is even interested. Great teachers often want to stay in the classroom (assuming that this person is a teacher??). I would hate to lose a great teacher to the principal position; wish they would reconsider a principal share -- the Angel principal is amazing and experienced and the two schools are close to each other.

Dan Ezekiel

Fri, May 3, 2013 : 10:48 a.m.

Promoting a teacher within a school to principal can work. My first principal was excellent, and he had long taught at the school. On the day he assumed the principalship, he made a point to tell his friends on the staff that their relationship would have to change, as he was now their supervisor. As long as this is acknowledged, it can work.


Fri, May 3, 2013 : 2:23 a.m.

Actually Ann Arbor Open already did this two years ago by making their media specialist the principal. I think it works out nicely.


Fri, May 3, 2013 : 2:15 a.m.

Which shouldn't even be considered. Co-workers are often friends. We spend a lot of time with one another and long-term friendships are formed. Imagine if one day, that dynamic changed and suddenly, you weren't co-workers any longer. And then, if you will, think of all of the people you WEREN'T friends with. In both cases, your new position would be awkward and inappropriate. It should be against district policy. We're human! We form bonds with the people we work with...other teachers GET what it's like to be a teacher. That would be inappropriate for everyone involved.


Thu, May 2, 2013 : 11:04 p.m.

Interesting idea.


Thu, May 2, 2013 : 9:57 p.m.

Green may still be superintendent, but she should be relegated to doing paperwork, and updating her website. If she can't even forecast her own employment properly (retiring in the middle of a contract), then why should we assume her recommendations will work out?


Thu, May 2, 2013 : 9:21 p.m.

Not to mention, there may be another principal vacancy if Mr. Davis does not return to Carpenter.


Thu, May 2, 2013 : 8:51 p.m.

Green should not be an active participant in any hiring decisions during the remainder of her term. While she remains an employee of the AAPS any decisions she makes are likely to be questioned at length. The BOE must appoint an interim superintendent sooner rather than later and allow Green to complete her time in a consulting role with the interim superintendent making all decisions going forward. As decisions are made regarding the next school year, the superintendent responsible for the district during that period should be making the tough decisions.


Thu, May 2, 2013 : 8:36 p.m.

Ms. Green quit and the BOE is allowing her to pick key school positions? She should have been sent home already as she no longer has skin in the game. Unbelievable!!! Go figure!


Thu, May 2, 2013 : 8:33 p.m.

no green should not be in hiring process. she will not have any accountability.


Thu, May 2, 2013 : 8:02 p.m.

"During the search for a new Pioneer principal, Green was criticized for how long it took to fill the vacancy and for causing many teachers and parents at Pioneer to doubt the hiring process, when she did not consider the names submitted to her as finalists by the interview committee." "Hiring is a multi-level process… It is not just the superintendent who makes these decisions..." Mexicotte said. Really, Deb? How did that work for you with the Pioneer placement?? There seems to be a contradiction between theory and reality. What a shocker!


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 3:29 p.m.

I also heard that one of the Huron Asst. Principles is out for the rest of the year and an administratively certified teacher from within the building was going to cover till school was out. She was recommended all the way up the chain and then Green said no and decided to pay for a retired principle to come into a building she doesn't even know and do the job. This seems to be wrong on so many levels (budgetary, leadership, and knowing the environment).


Thu, May 2, 2013 : 7:37 p.m.

Ridiculous that Dr. Bell, a long term high school asst. principal, was transferred to Burns Park so that she could spend a measly two years there - schools deserve better than that. Does the administration really think that the parents don't know what is going on with these transfers??


Sat, May 4, 2013 : 4:12 p.m.

CLX, I hear you too. But the BOE seldom takes what is best for the kids into account, and I agree that it's unfair. What ripped it for me was one day on the back playground when, apparently not pleased with what she saw, Dr. Bell stomped out to the playground and screamed "I need to see my supervisors moving around!!" Whoa. The kids froze. so did we. At best, it's unprofessional. at worst, it's verbal abuse. That afternoon, I called Human Resources and begged/pleaded/implored the appropriate person for a transfer. this had nothing to do with what I was earning, and everything to do with preserving my sanity, it's too bad the BOE doesn't think "outside the dollar."


Sat, May 4, 2013 : 2:11 a.m.

I hear ya, mady. I'm not saying that she should have stayed longer - I heard the complaints - I'm saying that transferring someone who is trying to get a couple more years in so that she can retire is unfair to the kids.


Fri, May 3, 2013 : 1:11 p.m.

CLX, ask anyone who works or has worked at Burns Park, of which I fall into the latter category. Dr. Bell, with her tendency to Micromanage Everything, drove a lot of us to the point where we had to transfer to preserve our sanity!! two years is two years too long!


Fri, May 3, 2013 : 12:18 a.m.

TOTALLY agree with CLX. Bell also displaced a long term wonderful principal at Burns Park just to keep her job, as she was cut from Huron when they downsized from 3 to 2 assistant principals a couple years ago. Apparently she got to pick the school she not understand why this was allowed. The musical chairs at the principal level is atrocious.


Thu, May 2, 2013 : 8:37 p.m.

I don not know "what is going on with these transfers".... can you enlighten us?


Thu, May 2, 2013 : 7:35 p.m.

Why not try administrative consolidation and hire more teachers? Ann Arbor School administration has long been too top heavy!


Tue, May 14, 2013 : 5:25 p.m.

@orangecrush2000 I have nothing to do with Ann Arbor schools, working for or children attending, just asking for facts to back up these wild claims.


Fri, May 3, 2013 : 4:25 a.m.

Useless, You sound worried... maybe you're an administrator?


Thu, May 2, 2013 : 8:36 p.m.

Do you have comparison numbers to like-size districts to back this up? How many administrators does the district have? What is the admin-to-teacher ratio?


Thu, May 2, 2013 : 7:29 p.m.

If "it takes one to know one" we would be better off without her input. Given the number of layoffs forecast for the district shouldn't we be honoring our own and hiring from within.


Fri, May 3, 2013 : 4:40 a.m.

Why do organozations go outside? Simple, to get a fresh set of eyes on issues. Too many organizations fall into :we have always done it that way" and continue to do so,


Fri, May 3, 2013 : 2:53 a.m.

I just don't understand why this district always wants to "go outside". There are some pretty spectacular people right here who already have our confidence and they know how the system works.


Thu, May 2, 2013 : 9:14 p.m.

this makes very good sense,a win win situation.


Thu, May 2, 2013 : 7:16 p.m.

I think school boards should consider transitioning teachers to assistant principal positions at the middle school and high school level, so they have a chance to be mentored before taking on the responsibility for a whole school.


Thu, May 2, 2013 : 7:08 p.m.

Green should not be involved in hiring principals that will not have employed under her tenure. She's out. Only administrators who will actually be in the district this fall should be involved in hiring 2013-14 principals.


Fri, May 3, 2013 : 4:38 a.m.

I wonder why you believe a person should not still be doing their job until their last day. I suppose if a legislator decides to retire they should not be allowed to vote on ANY bills that come before them. I have had people within my company retire and they are still required to do their job. The CEO of the company retired in January, and interviewed every candidate that I wanted for a position. Why is it people want public officails to act like the private sector except when it does not fit their anti-public official bias?


Fri, May 3, 2013 : 12:14 a.m.

a2cents: "yes, why not wait till her replacement is named & on the job, say 2015?" If you read my post, it says that administrators who will actually be in the district this fall should be involved with hiring 2013-2014 principals. I did NOT say to wait until 2015 to do the principal hirings. A superintendent with no vested interest in the district does not need to be involved, nor should she be involved. Plenty of other qualified people can do the hiring.


Thu, May 2, 2013 : 7:28 p.m.

yes, why not wait till her replacement is named & on the job, say 2015?


Thu, May 2, 2013 : 7:09 p.m.

No editing function...;-(( Should read: Green should not be involved in hiring principals that will not be employed under her tenure.