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Posted on Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 2:33 p.m.

Ann Arbor parents submit language to recall 6 school board members

By Danielle Arndt


Six school board members are the target of recall language that was filed with the Washtenaw County Elections Commission Wednesday. Clockwise, the trustees named were: Irene Patalan, Simone Lightfoot, Andy Thomas, Christine Stead, Glenn Nelson and Susan Baskett.

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Editor's note: This story was updated with comments from trustees Simone Lightfoot and Glenn Nelson. The number of days the group has to collect the petitions also has been corrected.

A group of outspoken parents is trying to remove six of Ann Arbor Public Schools' seven Board of Education members from office.

Recall language for trustees Susan Baskett, Simone Lightfoot, Glenn Nelson, Irene Patalan, Christine Stead and Andy Thomas was submitted Wednesday to the Washtenaw County Elections Commission.

Jody Huhn, a representative of the group Ann Arbor Public Schools Parents for Change, filed the petition language separately for each individual.

Huhn, a parent at Thurston Elementary School, said the group could not submit recall language for board President Deb Mexicotte — "unfortunately" — until January, due to a change in a Michigan election law in 2012.

The law states officers cannot be recalled during the first year or the last year of their terms, if their terms are more than two years in length.

Mexicotte was re-elected in November to a four-year term. This is her fourth term on the school board. She was first elected in 2003.

The petition language for all six board members named by Huhn cites the same four reasons for the recall:

  • Failure to demonstrate thoughtful consideration of constituent priorities.
  • Failure to demonstrate transparency in decision making.
  • Failure to demonstrate cohesive and singular direction as evidenced by consistent split voting.
  • Failure to provide sufficient backing and support for district superintendent position as evidenced by high turnover rate averaging 2.25 years per term.

Huhn told the recall petitions were the result of the district losing yet another superintendent. Patricia Green resigned unexpectedly in April after about a year and a half with AAPS. She signed a five-year contract in July of 2011.

"The group of us feel like maybe the problem is not with the superintendents we pick but with the board," she said. "The problem to us is obvious. ... No one can agree, no one can support each other or get along on the board. There are always split votes."

Stead declined to comment on the recall effort at this time. Baskett, Patalan and Thomas could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.

Lightfoot said civic advocacy is her career and her life's work.

"So I always applaud citizen engagement and participation in government. And if you're unhappy with something, I've supported your right to protest that and lament it to the world," she said. "I may be personally disheartened that someone is unsatisfied with the very important work that we're doing on the board ... and that they didn't reach out to us to seek clarity in some of their notions ... I do support civic advocacy. It's what I do."

Lightfoot added that she stands behind her record as a school board trustee and believes it is "not in line with what is being alleged."

"So I don't take it personally because I believe it is so opposite of my record as a trustee," she said. "There may be some more validity with some of the others ... but I stand by my record."

She also said her address and cellphone number are public and she always welcomes speaking with members of the school community about any issues or concerns they may have.

Nelson echoed Lightfoot's sentiments about recalls being a part of the policy process: "I have no objections to it being used."

"It will be interesting to see how many people support it and who they are," Nelson said, adding he views it as "useful feedback" and an opportunity to better understand the values of the community and how he can better reflect them in his service.

On the allegations, Nelson said the board reflects the diversity of Ann Arbor and the trustees are transparent about their differences. He said while there may be split votes, the final vote is the decision of the board and after the debate, all of the trustees are good about supporting the decisions that are made.

Huhn and the AAPS Parents for Change group were active in trying to encourage the Board of Education to look for a local or internal candidate for Ann Arbor's next superintendent — who will be the fifth in the past decade. They also advocated for the board to give special consideration to Roberto Clemente Student Development Center Principal Ben Edmondson, who applied and was one of the six semifinalists, via a petition at the beginning of the superintendent search.

However, despite the group's urging, the board again elected to name two out-of-state individuals as finalists for the superintendency, Huhn said.

The board conducted final interviews with the two finalists — Brian Osborne of New Jersey and Jeanice Kerr Swift of Colorado — Tuesday and Wednesday and is expected to vote to offer the job to one of them on Friday.

Huhn said the group's timing was intentional and was in direct response to "the fact that they didn't choose someone local and we have to start all over again with someone new ... who can't make an impact for six to nine months and has to get to know the district."

"It's in direct response to the fact that they (the board) didn't even elect to move a third, local candidate forward in the process," Huhn said. "Even if they didn't pick Ben (Edmondson) ... they didn't listen to the community to strongly consider someone internal."

Lightfoot and Baskett tried to add a third finalist to the pool but were out-voted last week. Baskett said at the time, trustees would have "hell to pay" with the community for not choosing a local face as a finalist.

The Washtenaw County Elections Commission will meet 1 p.m. Aug. 1 to review the petition language in a clarity/factual review hearing. The hearing will take place at the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners meeting room at 220 N. Main St. in Ann Arbor. It is open to the public.

The individuals named in the petition can appear to defend their position, and Huhn can present her side to the commission as well.

The commission will consider the language, and could vote Aug. 1 to accept or deny the petitions. The commission consists of Judge Donald Shelton, County Clerk Larry Kestenbaum and County Treasurer Catherine McClary.

Should the commission approve the petition language, each individual named on the petition has a right to appeal the language to Circuit Court. The filer of the petitions also has the right to appeal, should the commission deny the petition language.

If the commission approves the language on the petition, 14,733 signatures would have to be collected in a 60-day period to force a recall election.

The number of signatures necessary is equal to 25 percent of the number of voters that cast a ballot for Michigan governor in 2010 that reside within AAPS district boundaries, as required by law.

Huhn said the AAPS Parents for Change will start hitting the streets with the petitions as soon as the language is approved. She said she is cautiously optimistic and hopeful the group will be successful.

"I do feel like there seems to be a lot of parent support (for what we're doing)," Huhn said. "Even if we don't collect all the signatures, we really just feel strongly that we have to send a message to the board: You're not listening. We're ready for a change."

AAPS Parents for Change did submit a letter to the school board earlier this week with the same message.'s Wastenaw County and health reporter Amy Biolchini contributed to this report.

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



Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 10:43 p.m.

it's an endless cycle.elect em.recall em.


Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 9:04 p.m.

It saddens me to thing that there is a group wasting time and money to recall the board. While we may not agree with all their decisions they have not done anything illegal or in conflict with their BOE responsibilities. Who is part of the group Parents For Change? What is their relationship to Dr. Edmondson? If you don't like the people on the BOE do not vote for them when they are up for re-election. Recall is not the answer. While there are some BOE members that I think need to be replaced there are others who really care about this community and are working incredibly hard to keep our quality of education high while dealing with dwindling resources. Better to spend your time recalling our Governor.


Sun, Jul 21, 2013 : 12:18 a.m.

Ms. Lightfoot, why would you point fingers at the other trustees and not take personal responsibilty for your part of the breakdown between the board and the community?


Sun, Jul 21, 2013 : 12:22 a.m.

Oops, I didn't mean to say the other trustees, I meant the other Board members.


Sat, Jul 20, 2013 : 3:57 p.m.

I read almost the entire comment thread in hopes my concern was already out there. Not quite. When is consistent "split voting" ever a shortcoming of a decision-making body? This is an asset! That is evidence of democracy at work! (and don't compare it to what our Congress is doing by killing every piece of legislation backed by POTUS; these people arrive at decisions and support them). How dangerous it would be if every issue appeared only to have one answer, everyone signed off, the minority were under-represented? This group's complaints are not consistent with themselves, and this supports my theory that it is really one person doing the griping and writing and others just signing.


Sat, Jul 20, 2013 : 5:07 a.m.

I don't like the ideal of letting go of all of them, but SUSAN BASKETT should have never been voted in. She must be worried because she is sending out emails to get support to keep her seat on the board.


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 7:39 p.m.

First off you have a bunch of liberals on the school board sucking up to a bunch of leftist unions who won't quit demanding that the taxpayers keep bending over. You get a small pay cut comprimise but you give it all back and more in still paying for step raises and other ridiculous benefits like 12 sick days for 9 months worked. This is 2013 and not 2003, you cannot continue to operate with your head in the sand folks. This parents group trying to set up the recall need to go meet with Dave Holden and Dave Zimmer over in the Saline district. They can help point you in the right direction. You need folks that have business backgrounds, fiscal experience running companies on the BOE or you will continue to go down the potty as you are. Look about 40 miles to your due east for motivation. Good Day


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 10:46 p.m.

and if the board was all conservative the liberals would be saying much of what you're saying except it would be in the tone of all they're doing is cutting,cutting,cutting.


Sat, Jul 20, 2013 : 3:49 a.m.

So how many times have the taxpayers been bent over in the last 30 years. None. In fact, there have been so many mindless tax cuts that all the schools in the state are on the financial ropes. Education in Michigan is underfunded today by about $1.4B because of the Conservative smaller government initiative that began about 30 plus years ago. Stop blaming the Unions and teachers for the money problems, you can blame David Stockman and his greedy rich allies who managed to enact hundreds of tax cuts resulting in the educational money crises of today.

Gretchen Ridenour

Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 7:04 p.m.

AAPS Parents for Change: The BOE has been elected to their positions. If they haven't met your expectations, vote for someone new in the next election. How about choosing to run yourself so you make a difference? How often have you attended school board meetings in the past several years to participate in discussions? How often do you communicate with the current Board to make your opinions known and offer your suggestions for improvement? In the spirit of "change", what are your plans to welcome the new superintendent to our community and support the new ideas to help move the district forward? Other than just trying to recall the current BOE members, what will be your active participation to help AAPS achieve excellence in education within its financial constraints? Just curious.

Stan Hyne

Sat, Jul 20, 2013 : 1:51 p.m.

Good comment.


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 3:49 p.m.

Where do I sign?


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 3:06 p.m.

I never sign ANY petitions. I'm a fan of representative democracy not direct democracy. Elect people who support the good of the whole not just a subset with an agenda. I don't expect to agree with every decision but I do expect to understand the reasoning behind those decision and how it supports the betterment of the total community.


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 1:20 p.m.

I'd be up for not putting any of them on there.

Charles Curtis

Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 12:56 p.m.

While Im not a fan of the board, the majority of the issues are and have been an issue for much longer than they have been in office. Be far better to pressure the board to write new policy on openness and transparency and recall if they don't. I think the true transparency would solve so many of the issues. The AAPS as policy and mantra is to release no information for any debate and public feedback until its really too late to get anything viable. The FOIA that goes on with AAPS is just a crime, but at the same time the requests for information would likely be too much to reply too without it. In the electronic age we are in, it does not seem like it should be a chore to get information out in the open. I will have to think about whether to support recall...


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 12:21 p.m.

OMG, don't these parents have anything better to do with their time? So many A2 parents think they know better than elected officials; do they realize just how close that thinking is to the radical right Tea Party? What I've thought for a long time is right: Ann Arbor home to most of the NIMBYs, Luddites, and fringe people who have too much time on their hands.


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 11:18 a.m.

I want to congratulate a small group of disgruntled parents for making clear just how difficult the AAPS will be to run at precisely the moment an offer will be made to a prospective superintendent. Who in their right mind would want the job?


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 2:09 p.m.

It is good for both candidates to see that parents in Ann Arbor get upset and form groups, generate petitions for things and even try to recall a board. This is part of Ann Arbor's parent community for years and years. A superintendent who accepts this job should have a skill set for dealing with enraged parents, who do any number of things to express their discontent. @Charles Curtis nailed it saying that it is the policies of the board for years on communication and transparency that need to be changed. The FOIA nonsense is a waste of time for so many people who could be spending time doing things that were in the interest of helping kids at all levels get a good education. If Swift or Osborn don't want the job because of this, that's a positive. Maybe if Dr. Green had gotten more of a taste of this kind of thing, she would have said no at the outset and saved us time.

Alan Goldsmith

Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 10:43 a.m.

I am not a big fan of several of the Board members, I don't appreciate their 'if you want an answer file a FOIA request', mentality, thought their last choice for Superintendent was horrid and I have a suitcase full of issues with a couple of them. That said, this recall seems directed by a parent unhappy about one local person not being selected for the vacant position and someone with their own personal agenda that isn't the same as the agenda most parents and taxpayers of the district. This attempted recalls is not going to help the situation one bit and should be opposed.

Stuart Brown

Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 6:14 a.m.

Rosy Ray Taylor said Ann Arbor could afford to build Skyline but could not afford to run it. She was right which is why she was fired by the board that went on to build Skyline. The troubles started when Skyline was built.


Sat, Jul 20, 2013 : 7:32 a.m.

You are so right Stuart.


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 2:55 a.m.

Failure to demonstrate thoughtful consideration of constituent priorities. Failure to demonstrate transparency in decision making. Failure to demonstrate cohesive and singular direction as evidenced by consistent split voting. The board is NOT designed to have singular direction. THAT is a dictatorship. I will tell you what the CEO of my company tells people everyday. IF I wanted a bunch of YES MEN, I could hire them a LOT cheaper than what I pay you The problem is consituents have MULTIPLE priorities and they are not SINGULAR in nature. Some care about different things. I also find it ironic coming from a woman who has been here less than a decade to tell A2 how they are doing it wrong. GO AWAY. I have no care about this, but I will donate to make sure these wastes of human flesh LOSE.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 10:51 p.m.

that's it many groups have so many different opinions on what should be done and how to do it.also it goes a little/lot deeper than liberal vs. conservative.


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 2:40 a.m.

As much as I might like to support this effort, I cannot! This is destructive, rather than constructive! The group does not have replacements vetted and introduced to the community. The group does not have a go forward plan. This is not the way to do this, I am sorry. Supporting this effort would end up driving many people out of the district and making things worse from a budget standpoint. Tomorrow the board is supposed to meet and pick a new superintendent, I am sure both candidates are following the local news. One has to wonder if this is timed to get one or both candidates to reconsider their willingness to be superintendent here. I have to wonder if one or both withdraw if the group will not back off, if Dr. Edmondson is brought back into the process. If they want to do this right they would have a replacement slate of board members. A list of actions the board members would take and a set of goals for the district. They don't and signing this petition is only asking to make things worse, rather than better. Please don't sign this!


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 6:40 p.m.

I agree totally. I wonder how Ben Edmonson feels about this...personally, I would be horrified if my supporters engaged in this type of behavior. But hopefully, this will not deter either of the potential candidates from accepting the fact it's probably just of taste of the rancor they'll likely face on a number of issues.


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 12:28 p.m.

I agree. This recall proposal is either a temper tantrum or an intentional effort to interfere with the hiring process. That would explain the odd timing and lack of a replacement slate.

Maria Huffman

Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 2:31 a.m.

Personally, and I speak only for myself, but I believe all four points for the recall are inaccurate. In fact, both Simone Lightfoote's and Glenn Nelson's answers in this article reflect thoughtful responses. I have personally found the other members as attentive and reflective as those two just demonstrated in the above article. The board voted for the Interim Superintendent on live TV, they were viewed writing their votes, and each vote, and who voted for it, was read aloud by Ms. Osinski in real time. While they don't completely agree, majority rules, as it should. Blaming the board for the turnover in superintendents is perhaps not recognizing what a unique place Ann Arbor is, a place I would characterize as a place that needs to be experienced personally to be understood.


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 2:09 a.m.

A school board that agreed on everything would not be representative of the community of Ann Arbor.


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 2:09 a.m.

I don't care if it is an 'inconvenient' is time. Whether or not the recall is successful I hope it gives the BOE pause that SO MANY people hold their performance in contempt. I am ashamed and embarrassed by the BOE inability to take action against the people from Balas who have consistently misled and maniputlated them. I also largely agree with Stephen Ranzini, Balas is full of untruthful, incompetent and people lacking character. Specifically, Dave Comsa (HR) and Nancy Hoover (CFO) amongst others. We Deserve Better. I don't care if it is an inconvenient is time, the new Superintendent has no chance with this board's incompetence and Bala's institutionalized liars.

Tom Teague

Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 2:08 a.m.

Two of the recall petition points really are interesting. First,"Failure to provide sufficient backing and support for district superintendent position as evidenced by high turnover rate averaging 2.25 years per term." Patricia Green's name was anathema on this site for 18 months. She could have saved puppies from a burning downtown building and her motives would have been called into question. Suddenly, her departure, which negatively affects that average, is a reason to recall the board? Second, "Failure to demonstrate cohesive and singular direction as evidenced by consistent split voting." It's unrealistic to think that any governing board would NOT have split votes except for routine or emergency matters. The split votes are the result of different opinions, which is probably an indicator that different voices in the community are actually well represented. Why recall everyone? What will that improve? Do you really want a board that is in full agreement on every vote? Well reasoned commenters here have chronicles some of the dysfunctions of the board. I think there's room for significant improvement in communication, transparency and internal governance. But I want to make that choice at a regular election when opposing candidates are given the same scrutiny as incumbents. Recall is a blunt political tool, more conducive to passion than reason. It should be reserved for crimes or complete abrogation of duty (failure to meet statute, for example), not disagreement. I won't sign any of these petitions. I won't be rude, but I do plan on saying "No thanks. I don't support the recall." as many times as I am asked.


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 10:28 a.m.

These are good points. The goal of the recall, ousting all the trustees but Mexicotte, even if accomplished, will not put the district in a better position than it is today with the trustees we have. Irritating, dysfunctional and ineffective as the board may be, more of the time than voters want to see, a recall is what Tom Teague says: "a blunt political tool, more conducive to passion than reason." This district needs every passionate parent who cares about their kids education and every passionate community member who cares about how the quality of schools impacts the community and the local economy, to work together to admit the level of dysfunction in the schools and find solutions that will work. What would be on a petition that would be aimed at finding a solution? I think it would involve weeding through administrative bloat at all levels in the district and making sure the managers and senior leaders in charge are effective and then rewarding and empowering the senior teachers in our district. Once some of our strong, senior level teachers leave, as they retire or give up, this district will lose a lot of the strengths it is known for. The string of articles and comments about Skyline's dysfunction points to that already starting to happen. No disrespect is intended for the many superb teachers in that building and talented students. But the Skyline problems have festered since year one and a lot of clean up is needed there and with the board members who are most dysfunctional. Would a compromise position to offer the recall group be that once a new superintendent is hired, that our board president would give up her officer role and turn over leadership of the board to another member who could be more effective. What about making Christine Stead board president? The Mexicotte-Nelson-Patalan kumbaya "leadership" needs to end, but a recall is not the way to do it.

Basic Bob

Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 1:02 a.m.

I am not a fan of recall elections. I would rather vote them all out of office in a regular election.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 11:40 p.m.

The timing of this seems to be all about the superintendent. There are at least 3 kinds of candidates: 1. The reluctant. Those like Moses, who said, "Who am I to lead?" and "Please, send someone else!" 2. The realistic. Those who have certain gifts and proclivities that put them in the right place at the right time; they humbly realize that they need to step up, perhaps like Gerald Ford. 3. The egotistical. Those who just seem to want to climb for the sake of climbing. They have a lot of ambition for no particular reason. Think over all that you have seen and heard, and draw your own conclusions.

Nicholas Urfe

Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 11:17 p.m.

The sooner we can fondly recall them, the better.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 10:56 p.m.

Another frivolous recall effort. There's no evidence of any malfeasance. Failure to find consensus is not a crime. Their reasons for the recall don't pass my "dead hooker threshold," which means since no dead hooker was found in the trunks of any of their cars, there isn't sufficient reason to recall them. More to the point, the reason we enacted recall laws to begin with wasn't to remove people from office the moment they made decisions we didn't like. We already have a process for that: they're called "elections." If the recall fails, the Ann Arbor Public Schools Parents for Change should have to foot the bill for the wasted money that was spent on this. That would go a long way to deterring these frivolous recalls.

Stan Hyne

Sat, Jul 20, 2013 : 1:24 p.m.

Good comment !! If they are recalled who wants the job that might be better. I sure don't want that job. Better to bear the ills we have than fly to those we know not of.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 10:50 p.m.

Danielle, how about a little more information about who AAPS Parents for Change are?

Terrence J. O'Hagan, JD

Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 10:43 p.m.

Just roll with it. As everyone knows, outspoken parents are always right! Why do we need school boards anyway?

Basic Bob

Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 12:23 a.m.

We need school boards so we can have two "open" schools with lower minority populations than the most ethnically pure neighborhood school.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 10:22 p.m.

I guess the only remaining question is whether is also savvy and experienced enough to figure out how not to be manipulated. Create a ruckus and the cameras will roll--no matter how small the group, no matter what the self-serving goals of the ruckus, and no matter what the cost to the well-being of our children and the community. Hopefully we all are learning how not to let rabble rousers totally take over a conversation. A place at the table, yes. But the right to totally dominate the conversation and end the game if a group doesn't get 100% of what they want--let's all say "No" to that.

martini man

Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 10:06 p.m.

Are they trying to recall these board members because they aren't "liberal" enough ???


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 10:02 p.m.

This seems like a *very* inappropriate way to try to influence the choice of superintendent. Essentially the Recall folks are saying.......hire my candidate, or our small vocal group will try to create such a ruckus that no one except our internal candidate will want the position. Fortunately, I think both of the finalists being interviewed for this position are far too savvy and far too experienced to allow themselves to be manipulated in that way. And fortunately, I think that the Board and this community also have been around the block far too many times to be manipulated in that way either. But, it does demonstrate very clearly to all of us where the real problem lies, doesn't it.......?

Usual Suspect

Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 9:40 p.m.

I would like to see a house-cleaning of the board, but any group that uses the cliche "... For Change" in their name makes my suspicious. Either they can't articulate what change they want, or they don't know themselves, other than just, "change."


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 9:39 p.m.

Wow! Trouble in Gotham City hey??

Momma G

Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 9:24 p.m.

I have to agree with this BOE being recalled, but if these parents who are trying to get this recall to take place, are also the ones who thought Ben Edmondson was the right person for the Superintendent position, then shame on them. The board should be recalled for the way they can't agree on anything, but also for their public belittlement of some of the cabinet members - another shame on them! Look at Dr. Osborne and see a person who has done his homework on AAPS and I believe he will straighten out this district and it's BOE but then again will this BOE vote him in since they don't want someone to straighten them out.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 9:22 p.m.

I'm not sure if any of the local candidates would fit the bill, but it does seem like the Board needs some cleaning of the house. I have to say this kind of action and getting involved is wonderful to see. I would love to see this kind of thing with Council and how our property tax money is spent as well. Kudos to the parents; may this be a sign of more cleaning house to come.


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 2:31 a.m.

I second that!!!

Usual Suspect

Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 9:20 p.m.

Instead of board members being able to speak at the elections commission, they should have to FOIA the results of the meeting if they want to know what happened.

Basic Bob

Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 12:18 a.m.

And the elections commission should drag their feet for a minimum three weeks before releasing it.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 9:19 p.m.

WHAT??? You lost another Superintendent! Something IS wrong--get to the source. Stop wasting taxpayers money.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 9:19 p.m.

"Slithy toves" is the word I want to use, but darn it. It ain't in the dictionary.


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 3:55 p.m.

but do they gyre and gimble? (presumably, A2 = wabe?)


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 2:47 a.m.



Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 8:57 p.m.

Why not the EMU professor?


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 8:47 p.m.

Sour grapes, plain and simple. This group's chosen SI candidate (Ben Edmondson) was not moved forward, and 3 days later the recall paperwork was submitted. When the coach won't let your kid play shortstop, you get rid of the coach.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 8:46 p.m.

People deserve the government they elect. There is no guarantee a new Board will yield different results.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 8:44 p.m.

It certainly would seem that there is a little more to the story. General dissatisfaction with the AAPS board and administration is widespread enough, perhaps, but what specifically motivates this petition -- what can we glean from previous interactions between its backers and the Board? Is there some secondary or hidden motivation here? Irrespective of those questions, the Board should certainly be on notice that they are perhaps falling short of a set of standards, most particularly for transparency, and might do a little soul searching.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 8:48 p.m.

They need to soul search very deeply while recall actions take place. They have refused to change for the better and must be replaced before more damage is done to our school system.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 8:21 p.m.

I suggested a process to identify and interview internal candidates, but the AA BOE apparently didn't like the idea. Following this process and series of suggestions might have avoided this mess. No outsider stands a chance until this mess is resolved with the voters, tax payers, community leaders and involved parents.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 8:11 p.m.

Accountability has to happen, somehow. If it has to start this way, then it will. Otherwise, the BOE will continue to do what it wants.

Jan Tripp

Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 8:06 p.m.

I see recall campaigns as a case of "voter remorse" and something to be avoided. Citizens need to educate themselves on the issues and motivate themselves to get to the polls and vote. This time around it would not take much persuasion for me to sign a recall petition. I am thankful that my children received an excellent AAPS education and not caught in the current mess called public education. We have watched the rainy day fund dwindle to ever and ever smaller balances as our Board has, in my opinion, bickered amongst themselves, and been distracted from dealing with the fundamental economic issues the voters have elected them to deal with. The question is whether anyone better qualified will emerge from the community if we recall these folks. It would definitely send a message that everything at AAPS isn't OK.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 8:05 p.m.

Knock on my door and you will get an earful. This is no time to be further disrupting a time which augers some healing and corrective action in this system. Thurston parents, I urge you to think carefully before you get pulled into a divisive, destructive process. We can vote out board members in the next regular election and put our energy now into giving the new super our help.


Sat, Jul 20, 2013 : 12:06 a.m.

I completely agree about disrupting the system right now. This is really poor timing, and makes it look more like a "my candidate didn't get chosen and I'm upset" move and the appearance of this motivation seems to invalidate any real concerns that might be there.

Danielle Arndt

Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 8:04 p.m.

Also, the number of days the petitioners have to collect the signatures has been corrected. It's actually 60 days not 180. Our apologies for the error.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 7:57 p.m.

The board certainly has a "Failure to demonstrate transparency in decision making." I recently learned that the 3% pay cuts that the AAPS teachers supposedly took only applied to the teachers with more than 10 years on the job. Every teacher with less than 10 years on the job received a step increase greater than the 3% pay cut, so they actually received a pay raise! From where do these lies emanate? Why does no one from the inside of Balas call the liars out? The new superintendent (hopefully Dr. Osborne) has a tough road ahead cleaning out the liars and the people who sit silently on their hands while knowing the lies but say nothing. Why does no member of the board feel enabled to speak the truth when confronted with lies of this magnitude? Please re-read this story in light of what I wrote above and reflect deeply on it and what we as a community should do about it:


Sat, Jul 20, 2013 : 3:49 p.m.

Stephen, nobody is lying. You are confusing pay raises with step increases. Teachers agreed to an overall 3% reduction. The teacher who moved into a new step on the grid forfeited 3% of her due compensation just like everyone else. Managers are paid more than fry cooks for their expanded skills and contribution (value) to the restaurant; experienced teachers are paid more than rookies for their expanded skills and contribution (value) to the school. If the whole restaurant takes a 3% pay cut but Shelly moves to manager, you don't call the owner a liar just because Shelly's new paycheck is still an improvement over her fry-cook pay.


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 6:42 p.m.

Thanks for my chuckle of the day: "Former well-respected Ann Arbor news reporter Tom Gantert."

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 2:50 a.m.

Good teachers are worth their weight in gold. Sigh. Sorry for the typo.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 2:49 a.m.

@J.A. Pieper & @michael Limmer: I am all in favor of teachers getting raises. God teachers are worth their weight in gold. However, I am not in favor of public school boards and public school administrations or any public officials lying to the public that a group of school employees got a pay cut when they got a pay raise. This is the taxpayer's money we are talking about here and its use and the spending and allocation of it should be done in a completely transparent and truthful way!

michael Limmer

Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 12:43 a.m.

A teacher receiving a raise instead of a one per center or a bankster! The horror of it all!

J. A. Pieper

Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 11:30 p.m.

Stephen, they still gave up 3%. Yes, some teachers do receive step increases, and then those stop after 10 years. Our beginning teachers can't afford to live in Ann Arbor on their salary, and end up moving to less expensive areas. Up until this year, newer teachers had to continue to attend graduate level courses to keep their teaching certificate, and this expense eats up a fair amount of income. Obviously, you are not trying to live on a teacher's salary in this area!

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 8:56 p.m.

@aamom: Reporter Tom Gantert, a former well respected Ann Arbor New reporter, who wrote this: Since the source is ideological, I didn't accept it at face value, but confirmed it with Board Trustee Christine Stead yesterday. @Tom Teague: I support AAPS Board Trustee Christine Stead and wouldn't want to see her recalled. I have an open mind about the rest. I do support the hiring of Dr. Osborne and hope they can do that, ASAP.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 8:37 p.m.

I have no reason to doubt you, but in the interest of transparency, what is your source for this information?

Tom Teague

Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 8:33 p.m.

Okay, I re-read the story in light of your comment, but I can't tell whether you're advocating a recall of SIX trustees. If you are, don't you think that a recall election would certainly affect the hiring of Dr. Osborne? If you were considering a job in the private or public sector, would you accept it knowing that nearly an entire board is under threat of a recall? I'm using Dr. Osborne's name only because, in a comment this morning, you seemed pretty sold on him and said "Hopefully the Board of Trustees can hire him."


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 7:57 p.m.

Wow! Right idea but the motives are highly questionable. A. why now instead of January when the BOE leader and most egregious of them all - Deb Mexicotte - is able to be included? Not sure the Huhn "transparency" is really evident either. B. There was only one local candidate - Edmunson - if Huhn's posse is crying about that why not cry openly in the petition? "Recalled for not choosing our local SI candidate". That behavior is a childish waste of community resources unless the broader community supports local-only. How about suing to halt the hiring process and/or petitioning the County /Governor to make a law barring out-state applicants from top MI School jobs? C. While it looks like the entire BOE is the subject of pursuit, separate language for each board member was filed. That is very very deceptive and suspect as now only one or two members can be targeted for pay-back by Huhn's posse for Edmunson while the clueless public is working the streets in support to oust the entire BOE. One petition. One iBOE all inclusive more honest. May also explain the missing Mexicotte. If there is no SI actively making change this fall then maybe do the revolution right in January or stop grandstanding over special interest spilt milk.

Danielle Arndt

Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 7:57 p.m.

Just a quick note to readers: comments from trustees Glenn Nelson and Simone Lightfoot were added to this story after it was published.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 7:48 p.m.

So what happens if they are recalled? Find six new people who want the job? Does Kuhn want the job f her personal agenda? Just curious.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 7:31 p.m.

Lightfoot is quoted above as saying concerned individuals should "reach out to us to seek claret in some of their notions". Should they really look to the AAPS board for a dry red wine from France? Or do we have a lack of clarity here?

Julie Baker

Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 7:32 p.m.

We've fixed the typo. Thanks.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 7:31 p.m.

Sadly these parents who are voters keep electing these "dysfuncitonal" types. Blame away.


Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 2:11 a.m.

The saddest thing of all is that hardly any new people run so there isn't anyone else to choose.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 11:10 p.m.

Finally, someone who totally gets it. You vote and vote for the same person because you fall for the same trap every time. Vote for me and see change. There is no change and sadly AAPS is becoming the laughing stock of Washtenaw county, if not the state.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 7:31 p.m.

Let the recall begin. I can hardly wait to replace all of them with capable BOE members. Keep the interim supt. until the new board is in place. Then the new BOE can select the right supt. candidate.

Nick Danger

Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 7:29 p.m.

Typical Ann Arbor parents who didn't get their way.Thats what we need more distractions instead of working together to solve problem.Go ahead with your recall petition you will be doing these people a favor.Why anyone would ever want to serve on the board is beyond me.It's a thankless job without a salary


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 7:28 p.m.



Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 7:24 p.m.

It is about time Michigan went to a county wide school system. This would save taxpayers money by eliminating duplicate services in the highest paid positions. We need more teachers and less highly paid administrative staffs. Surrounding states do this and it works well there.


Sat, Jul 20, 2013 : 3:08 a.m.

Ann Arbor couldn't possibly live with the common sense values of the outlying townships and villages. And the outlying municipalities are quite content keeping Ann Arbor's 15 square miles of PC crazy contained.

Basic Bob

Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 12:14 a.m.

@Cas, You must be a progressive because a real Democrat would never utter that sentiment.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 11:36 p.m.

County wide school systems result in the "dumbing down" of the good schools.

Ricardo Queso

Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 8:50 p.m.

Just like the Memphis, TN system?


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 7:21 p.m.

So let's recap... A small group of vocal parents, led by a newcomer to the area, doesn't get what they want, so they choose to oust a duly elected board of education. Sounds about right.

Michelle Pierson

Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 8:25 p.m.

I just like sarcasm, baha!


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 7:29 p.m.

Maybe Ann Arborites will treat them as liberators?


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 7:16 p.m.

Please update this story with where/when we can sign!


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 7:16 p.m.

I think this is misguided and don't support it. If you wanted to recall them, why didn't you do it the day you learned of Green's resignation? Or before, since being disfunctional isn't new to them? And two of them supported keeping your candidate for the position, but you're recalling them also? Oh, fyi - some neighborhoods are private and don't allow ANY soliciting, which also includes petition signing, so please respect OUR wishes.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 8:10 p.m.

FYI... Pretentious.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 7:14 p.m.

Reminds me of Egypt - i.e. not "getting" what elections, democracies, and republics are about. These people were elected. Live with it. Work within the rules.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 7:49 p.m.

The democratic process also provides for recalls. I'm not suggesting that this recall is a good idea, but recalls are completely within the rules.

Kenneth Gallaher

Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 7:14 p.m.

OK what's the REAL agenda?

J. A. Pieper

Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 11:01 p.m.

Apparently, the only real agenda is that they are supporters of Ben Edmondson, and are very disappointed that he did not get selected.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 7:11 p.m.

Don't let the door hit you on the backside on the way out! I will gladly sign it. In fact, I will gladly go door to door with this!:) Let me know where to sign up.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 7:06 p.m.

sounds like someone got to someone.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 7:03 p.m.

My comments over time have included a lot of criticism for the board, particularly President Mexicotte and Trustee Nelson. I think the board is dysfunctional and needs to change. However, I don't support a recall petition right now for any member, because I think it will ultimately harm kids, divert attention away from the many important and critical issues on the table. Osborne was candid saying that the board needs help operating more effectively. If he is hired and accepts the job, and details are worked out, I would hope that he moves quickly on this piece of his plan to help the board and meets with this group of parents who are organizing the recall to find a way to address their concerns. If you look at the history of recall elections in the state, there has not been much success. I would not sign the petition right now, even though I agree the board has serious problems and some trustees should be replaced. I think it is a real failure of this board and the cabinet under Green over the past several years that this group of parents feels that a recall petition is their best option, but I disagree that it is the only option they have right now. My opinion is that it is divisive and won't end up addressing some of the real problems they are highlighting. Has this group tried to meet with the board prior to filing the petition? Has the board responded to this group of parents concerns or been silent?

Tom Teague

Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 9:34 p.m.

This is an extremely thoughtful and clearly written comment. Thank you for posting it.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 6:49 p.m.

They will probably spit their catered lunches all over the conference table when they hear about this.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 8:57 p.m.

I think they just did. All $5000 of it. They really messed up this time.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 6:48 p.m.

Ironically, I would have felt some board members should be recalled if they HAD chosen Edmondson over the other two. Based on his answers that were blogged during the interview he wasn't a very strong candidate. Although people I know and trust tell me he's a nice, charismatic guy, a nice, charismatic guy may not be enough for this job.

J. A. Pieper

Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 10:57 p.m.

I am with you aamom! As soon as I read the title of this article, I thought it might be from the people who wanted Edmondson, and although I would like to see changes in the BOE, I will not support their recall petition. Being nice, charismatic, charming and other similar personal characteristics can lead to other qualities that we do not need in a superintendent. AAPS needs a lot more to remain a viable educational entity during these challenging times for public education. We need someone who actually has ability to do the job!


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 7:29 p.m.

Your FIRST two sentences are correct.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 6:48 p.m.

Interesting, but perhaps Parents for Change should focus their efforts on electing people in the future who will: * thoughtfully consider constituent priorities, * demonstrate transparency in decision making, * demonstrate cohesive and singular direction (good luck with this!), and * provide sufficient backing and support for district superintendents. I think that they'll have more success doing this than trying to recall already elected officials.

Nicholas Urfe

Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 6:47 p.m.

Move'em out!


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 6:44 p.m.

Good! I usually don't answer the door for the many solicitors or people roaming the neighborhood seeking sigs for petitions. This is one petition I WILL gladly sign!

Albert Howard

Fri, Jul 19, 2013 : 4:37 p.m.

They all need to go! That's right!