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Posted on Thu, Jun 13, 2013 : 7:45 a.m.

Ann Arbor school board names top central administrator as interim superintendent

By Danielle Arndt

Previous coverage:

The Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education named David Comsa the interim chief superintendent for the district Wednesday.

Comsa, who is Ann Arbor's legal counsel and deputy superintendent of human resources and legal services, will head up the district beginning in early July, after current Superintendent Patricia Green retires, until the board's search for a new permanent leader is complete.


David Comsa speaks at an Ann Arbor school board meeting in this file photo. He will serve as the interim superintendent when Patricia Green leaves to enjoy retirement in July.

Danielle Arndt |

Comsa was selected as the interim in a paper ballot vote of the school board Wednesday. He received four votes and was one of four interim candidates that President Deb Mexicotte brought to the table for to trustees to consider.

Board trustees and community members were able to make recommendations to Mexicotte about whom they thought would be a good short-term leader. The final candidates aside from Comsa were: Executive Director of Physical Properties Randy Trent, Mitchell Elementary School Principal Kevin Karr and Angell Elementary School Principal Gary Court.

Court, who has been a teacher or administrator in the district for 34 years, received two votes from Mexicotte and Trustee Irene Patalan. Karr received one vote from Trustee Andy Thomas, and the remaining school board members voted for Comsa.

Comsa has been employed at AAPS since 2007. Previously, he worked for Flint Community Schools in a similar human resources and legal services role.

The deadline for interested individuals to apply for the permanent superintendent position is Friday. The Board of Education will be hosting a series of four community forums on the superintendent search on June 19. At these meetings, school board trustees want to hear from local residents about what they would like to see in Ann Arbor's next superintendent as well as questions they would like the board to ask in its interview process with the final candidates.

The board intends to review applications for the position with Ray & Associates, the consulting firm hired to conduct the search, on June 26. That evening, the board will announce the semi-finalists for the position at its regular meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. at the downtown Ann Arbor District Library.

Semi-finalists will visit the Ann Arbor Public Schools district for tours and interviews the week of July 7, and the week of July 14 the school board will conduct its interviews with the finalists.

Green announced her plans to retire in April. Her resignation is effective July 9.

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


Nick Danger

Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 10:32 a.m.

What was the board thinking? They put a man in charge that has only alienated the entire staff and every bargaining unit.This is a slap in the face of many worthy individuals who both work in the district and have a true commitment to the education of our children


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 4:02 p.m.

Maybe they are CYA's! Legal is as Legal does!


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 2:42 a.m.

Gary Court is a natural leader and would do well in any job for our students.


Thu, Jun 13, 2013 : 8:44 p.m.

What about Alesia Flye for Superintendent, I've heard good things about her from teachers who are also parents? In her role as Deputy Superintendent for Instructional Services, I heard her speak briefly at one of the budget forums. I didn't really get a feel for her style and approach, she seemed pretty stiff and laden in bureaucratic-speak, but that was the time and place for it - I guess. What is the prevailing opinion?


Thu, Jun 13, 2013 : 11:58 p.m.

Not sure about long enough. If she's competent, give her the job!


Thu, Jun 13, 2013 : 11:07 p.m.

Hasn't been here long enough.

Wake Up A2

Thu, Jun 13, 2013 : 4:03 p.m.

OMG.... those four were on the list.... it shows beyend a shadow of a doubt that the board is grasping for straws.....


Thu, Jun 13, 2013 : 3:19 p.m.

I spoke to him once at Pioneer HS (Feb 2013) about the choice of balloon colors at an event. He was unaware of the school colors of the high schools. While this by itself doesn't make the wrong person for the job, it does raise questions about his knowledge of and commitment to the district.


Thu, Jun 13, 2013 : 2:37 p.m.

So, does he get a pay increase to be "interim superintendent"? How much does that increase his retirement check? What does this appointment end up costing taxpayers?

Charles Curtis

Thu, Jun 13, 2013 : 1:31 p.m.

Great, all we need is lawyer in charge ... to hide more information from the public


Thu, Jun 13, 2013 : 1:12 p.m.

This guy was hired by Tod Roberts (the old superintendent) to be a sharp knife at the bargaining table. All the other players from that era have moved on, yet last year Comsa enjoyed a fourteen percent 2 am raise, and now he is the Man on Top. He has never taught a child in a classroom. He has never supervised teachers or developed educational programming. He smiles a lot, but he is not trusted by the rank and file of AA schools. At a time when the board has lost the faith of the community, has zero political capital, and can't even make it through the most serious meeting without buffoonery and "shennanigans," they choose to put the smiling, aggressive lawyer in charge of our children's education. If this is a preview of the board's upcoming choice of permanent superintendent, I am afraid.


Thu, Jun 13, 2013 : 1:10 p.m.

I share AMOC's opinion that we need an educator for a superintendent. The education system in Michigan is currently dominated by ideologues who have no experience in, or knowledge of, education.

Basic Bob

Thu, Jun 13, 2013 : 4:22 p.m.

these so called educators are the real ideologues with any practical experience of how to operate a large system. those that can't teach, get their phd.


Thu, Jun 13, 2013 : 12:55 p.m.

I have served on various school committees with Comsa and Trent, and have had the pleasure of interacting with both Karr and Court as principals at my various childrens' schools. As a 6-8 week summer-season only interim superintendent, Comsa is an acceptable choice and the one offering the least disruption to the principal cadre especially to Mitchell and Angell But if AAPS must operate without a permanent superintendent longer than the end of this coming September, I think we will regret having a lawyer, and worse, a lawyer who has been hip-deep in the previous out-of-control financial system in charge instead of an educator. Here's hoping the BoE meets both their timing and their quality targets for selecting a new superintendent.

Chester Drawers

Thu, Jun 13, 2013 : 7:49 p.m.

I, too, think it's a big mistake to have a lawyer at the helm for anything more than a few short weeks. (But then, I subscribe to W. Shakespeare's 'solution' to the lawyer 'problem')! I feel a more appropriate choice would have been either one of these 2 well respected educators.

Basic Bob

Thu, Jun 13, 2013 : 4:21 p.m.

we had an educator for the last two years. it has been all downhill.