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Posted on Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 6:02 a.m.

Former Willow Run school board president signed contract extension after leaving board

By David Jesse

Seven days after she left the Willow Run school board, former board President Claudette Braxton signed a new contract for Student Services Administrator Laconda Hicks.

The new contract, which had not been approved by the full board, increased Hicks’ pay and changed a number of clauses, including an automatic rollover date. obtained a copy of the contract through a Freedom of Information Act request.


Claudette Braxton

Hicks and former Superintendent Doris Hope-Jackson are on paid administrative leave while waiting for due process hearings before the school board, which is seeking to fire the pair for alleged misconduct. Late last week Acting Superintendent Laura Lisiscki declined to comment on whether a date for that hearing had been set.

Neither Hicks nor Hope-Jackson could be reached for comment. Braxton declined comment on all Willow Run matters.

Details of the changes in the contract were included in 46-page charge document against Hope-Jackson and a similar one against Hicks approved by the board last month.

During her tenure as board president, Braxton was one of Hope-Jackson’s strongest supporters. However, Braxton announced in 2009 that she would not run for re-election.

Her last day on the board was June 30, 2009. On July 7, 2009, she signed Hicks’ new contract.

An review of school board meeting minutes found that the last action on Hicks’ contract was on Aug. 21, 2008, when the board approved a contract for the 2008-09 and 2009-10 school years. It would have paid her $91,399.

The board alleged in its charging documents that Hicks should have received $90,051 under the approved salary schedule, but that Hope-Jackson submitted a contract with the higher amount. It also alleged that Hope-Jackson then arranged for Hicks to receive retroactive pay, bumping her compensation to $92,837. Then Hope-Jackson got that salary formalized in the new contract Braxton signed, the board alleged.


  • Read Laconda Hicks' contract
  • The board also charged that Hope-Jackson and Hicks duped board Secretary Mark Wilde into signing the new contract.

    “Ms. Hicks new Contract of Employment was buried in with a number of other contracts and documents for his signature without his knowledge,” the charging document said. “He would not have knowingly signed any new Contract of Employment for Ms. Hicks since the Board had not approved one, much less a Contract containing a number of revisions which the Board was not aware of and had not approved.”

    Wilde declined to comment when asked about the issue.

    Among changes in the contract were:

    • A change in the date by which the board had to terminate the contract or have it automatically extended for a year from June 1, 2010, to March 1, 2011.
    • Allowing a tuition reimbursement of $95 per credit hour for up to 20 credit hours, instead of 10 in the previous contract.
    • Adding five days of vacation time and five days of sick time, along with allowing for 10 vacation days to be carried over each year.

    The school board alleged in the charging documents that this wasn’t the only time Hope-Jackson sought Braxton’s approval for items that should have been approved by the full board.

    “In the Fall of 2007, you unilaterally, in collaboration with former Board President Claudette Braxton, authorized the day before Thanksgiving as a paid holiday for Local 3451 employees. The Board never approved this time off with pay at a cost to the District of $14,000, which the District could hardly afford at a time when many cost savings measures and ‘cuts’ were being enacted.”

    Court documents also show that Hope-Jackson admitted to acting without approval of the full board on other occasions.

    In September 2009, an attorney in a court case involving grievances filed by the district’s teachers union questioned Hope-Jackson. In a deposition, Hope-Jackson talked about why she signed an agreement with the union without board approval.

    “Anytime my signature is required, or I’m acting on behalf of the board, I do share with the board President to get their direction and if they are in, if she’s in agreement representing the board, then I move forward.”

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



    Wed, Apr 14, 2010 : 11:12 p.m.

    The WRCS board should continue this journey to right the wrongs that have been done by these women. The former board president must have had some type of momentary loss....of her MIND!! Hello if your going to pull stunts on your way out you should have at least been smart enough to date the document for a time when you were actually on the board..I hope that they go after these women criminally and their convicted and have to payback every dime they stole from children of this district....I would also like to know how long is the district going to allow that principal who was arrested for drunk driving to serve as a leader to those young innocent impressionable children over at that middle school and high school? Goog luck to you all and keep uncovering the TRUTH!!!


    Tue, Apr 13, 2010 : 2:37 p.m.

    I missed this article when it first appeared and only found it because of the link from an article today about this mess. I am just shaking my head. Claudette Braxton must have lost her mind to have signed this extension after she was no longer on the board. And Mark Wilde - I have trouble believing a responsible person would just blithely sign a bunch of documents without reading through them. That put-one-in-the-middle is such an old trick it's in movies made 80 years ago. Call me naive, but I expect better from someone who takes on such a vital position in the organization. I have to give credit to Sheri Washington for even running for the board. Cleaning up this mess is a thankless task, albeit a necessary one. Kudos to her and others who are trying to unravel this Gordian knot.


    Fri, Apr 9, 2010 : 7:27 p.m.

    Wake up people! She is up for another top job in Illinois--and they are reporting all the bad press....there is a link on here. You are paying her to 'audition' for another nightmare! Who is dumber here?


    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 3:16 p.m.

    This needs to be addressed legally. How shameful to lie to the Willow Run community, Ms. Braxton.


    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 2:58 p.m.

    Claudette Braxton has been on staff at the School of Social Work, Eastern Michigan University. She SHOULD be aware of ethics as a social worker and member of the NASW! However, she certainly has not been ethical... nor honest or interested in the education and well being of our Willow Run students. She needs to be held accountable. To think she was the president of the school board! Thank goodness for the recent changes. I applaud Sheri Washington, the new president. Thank you, David Jesse, for continued WRCS news coverage.


    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 2:31 p.m.

    First, Ms. Braxton should be facing criminal charges AND a civil lawsuit from the WR schools. Second, Mr. Wilde should be removed from his post. My parents taught me in elementary school never to sign anything that I had not read completely. It drives some of my co-workers a little batty, but I sure do catch a lot of errors before my name is on something...

    Life in Ypsi

    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 11:31 a.m.

    I never cared for Ms. Braxton and felt that she was always phony acting. While I was a student at EMU I went to her seeking assistance and she was very unprofessional. It's ridiculous our school board members are not reading what they sign! Being in a pile of other papers is not an excuse.


    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 10:40 a.m.

    Soooo, Wilde was "duped"? Seems to me he has a responsibility to know what he's signing...


    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 9 a.m.

    First we learn that Hope-Jackson and Hicks are charged with mis-appropriating funds. Now we learn that Hope-Jackson's most ardent supporter, Braxton, authorized contract changes that benefited Hicks. My only question is: Ms. Braxton, what was your cut of the salary increase/misappropriated funds?


    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 8:12 a.m.

    @Domey Perhaps a better analogy would be "If George W. Bush signed a bill today..." since President Ford died in 2006. Nevertheless, not only was Ms. Braxton's signature untimely but it exceeded her authority. When the inevitable litigation takes place I'm sure that the revised contract will not stand.


    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 7:54 a.m.

    This is the lastest example of favoritism expressed within the Willow Run school board. This behavior has been reported in the media and discussed in the Willow Run community for an extended length of time. If the school board abuse the trust given to them as elected officials, how can they expect the community, in return, to support them and the school district they represent?


    Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 6:11 a.m.

    How can a contract signed by a FORMER board president be valid? If Gerald Ford signed a bill today, would it become law? NO!