You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Fri, Jul 9, 2010 : 6:02 a.m.

Doris Hope-Jackson, Laconda Hicks sue Willow Run school district

By David Jesse

Updated at 1:40 p.m.: This story has been updated with details from the police report filed with the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Department.

Moves by the Willow Run school board to fire Doris Hope-Jackson and Laconda Hicks were made in retaliation after the pair of administrators filed a police report against the board president, Hope-Jackson and Hicks allege in new lawsuits.

In the lawsuits filed by both Hope-Jackson and Hicks, they claim board President Sheri Washington “verbally and otherwise” assaulted them in early September 2009. The pair say they filed a police report against Washington, which started Washington’s campaign to fire them.

The suits ask for monetary compensation and for the judge to reinstate them to their prior positions.


Doris Hope-Jackson (left) is suing school board president Sheri Washington and the district.

The school board voted in May to fire Hicks, who was the district’s student services administrator. 

A due process hearing for Hope-Jackson has been ongoing since late last month. She was demoted from superintendent in December to a newly created position as director of information and assessment.

Washington said Thursday the ongoing hearing with Hope-Jackson dealing with many of the same issues raised in the lawsuits made it impossible for her to comment on the specifics of the suits.

But Washington said it wasn't a case of looking for more power in the district.

“I’m an old-school Willow Run Flyer," she said. "I was taught here in this school by an awesome cadre of teachers to question everything. This office does not define Sheri Washington. It’s service I owe to this community. I don’t have any power-tripping (going on).”

In the lawsuits, filed in late June in Washtenaw County Circuit Court, Hope-Jackson said that on Sept. 1, 2009, while she was still superintendent, she was “assaulted both verbally and otherwise” in a conference room at the district. She said she advised the school board of it that day.

Hope-Jackson sent an e-mail that day at 1:42 p.m., which was obtained by through a Freedom of Information Act request sent before the lawsuit was filed. The incident occurred after a meeting with the Willow Run teachers union. Hope-Jackson wrote that she decided to adjourn the meeting, and that’s when the assault happened.

“Ms. Washington became irate. Yelling at me as though she were my parent. This was observed by everyone present at the meeting. She stated that up to that point, she was fine with the way the meeting had been handled, but that I had made an assumption about her. When asked if she thought the manner in which she was addressing me was appropriate, she stated, ‘This is the tone that you’re going to get anytime I feel disrespected.’ 

"No one had disrespected her. Her behavior was out of control and unwarranted. It was Ms. Washington who was blatantly disrespectful. I stated that it was inappropriate to reprimand me in the presence of WREA members. She responded, ‘I’ll see you at 3:30.’ I responded that I didn’t think we should meet again today. She walked over to were (sic) I was sitting, standing to the right of me, slammed her open hand on the table, repeating, ‘This is what you’ll get every time I feel that you are disrespecting me.’”


Hope-Jackson also said that in previous meetings with Washington, her job was threatened.

“In both prior sessions, I have been told that the district can’t move forward with me as superintendent. My contract is valid through June 30, 2013 and there are laws against employee harassment.”

Washington responded to the e-mail less than two hours later.

“Dr. Jackson, I detest your persistent misquotes and blatant lies regarding comments that I have made. Your divisive deeds stop today…. Your assertion of harassment at my hand has no merit, no basis.”

That wasn't the first time the duo exchanged testy e-mails. Washington has been critical of Hope-Jackson for most of Hope-Jackson’s time with the district, even though Washington voted to hire Hope-Jackson.

In her separate lawsuit, Hicks alleges she was “assaulted, both verbally and otherwise in her office by defendant Washington” on Sept. 15.

The lawsuits say Hope-Jackson and Hicks filed police reports with the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Department the next day.

In the police report obtained by today, Hope-Jackson told the deputy Washington began "acting belligerently" at a meeting, yelling that Hope-Jackson "had to go" and banged on the table.

Hicks told police that about two hours after the incident with Hope-Jackson, Washington came to her office, removed her keys from her door and threw them on the desk, the police report said. She said Washington asked her "specific details" she didn't feel comfortable releasing, so Hicks told her to talk to the superintendent, and Washington began "ranting and raving," the report said. The report did not specify what Washington was allegedly asking for details about.

The report was filed for informational purposes only at the request of Hope-Jackson and Hicks, it indicates. The nature of the report is listed as "assist citizen," and says "not a crime" under the disposition.

In their lawsuits, Hicks and Hope-Jackson allege the police report kicked off the effort to get rid of them.

“Following the disclosure of Dr. Hicks’ reporting of defendant Washington’s assault to the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department, defendants, at the insistence of defendant Washington, engaged the services of an auditor/investigator to investigate Dr. Hick’s employment activity," the lawsuits state. "Upon information and belief, the auditor/investigator, following a covert investigation, found no wrongdoing on the part of Dr. Hicks.

“Despite the fact that the auditor/investigator hired by the district to uncover Dr. Hick’s alleged improprieties found no wrongdoing, defendant Washington charged Dr. Hicks with several allegations of misconduct as it relates to her employment with WRCS.”

The charges leveled against Hicks and Hope-Jackson by the board accuse them of conspiring to defraud the district of money in a number of circumstances.

Their attorney, Darryl Segars, said those charges are false.

“Many, if not all, of the charges, are something that had already been approved by the board, or if it hadn’t decided on them, it certainly was aware of them," he said. "It is intellectually dishonest to suggest that in 2008 something was OK, but in 2010 it isn’t it.

“In this day and age, it’s sad that two such fine people and educators have to be subject to this.”

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



Sat, Jul 17, 2010 : 9:37 a.m.

WOW...I know someone below noted to google her with Calumet Park, IL school districts. However, guess what... google her with Dolton School District in IL also.. I just feel sorry for the children. This is where everyones focus should be!


Tue, Jul 13, 2010 : 7:20 a.m.

I used to refer to these two individuals-- Hope-Jackson and Hicks-- as "non-educators". That was too kind. They are ANTI-educators, scam artists who have no interest in the learning process. They will only be pleased when our children are totally robbed of resources. They talk of "praying".... yes, these two anti-educators are "preying", indeed. Parasites, who will not be satisfied until the demise of the host.


Tue, Jul 13, 2010 : 6:14 a.m.

It is INTERESTING that Hopeless Jackson and Anaconda think they were harassed by Ms. Washington. What about the many staff members that were DISRESPECT by these two women. Also, remember that over 100 staff people were terminated, took early retirement, or quit and sought other employment to get away from their dirty treatments. Let's also remember that Jackson walked into several professional development meetings back in May 2009 and began ranting, ranting, and threatening employees about signs placed on her car the previous night and Claudette Braxton chose NOT to do the right thing and investigate the matter or meet with the union to resolve the matter. Ask the many employees and presenters that were in the PD sessions how they felt about their treatment on that day by Jackson. It was UGLY and nothing happened to Jackson about her behavior!!! If Washington is charged then Jackson should be charged and jailed for her years of ugly behaviors towards staff, students, parents, and the community. This lawsuit is crazy!!! These women DO NOT deserve to collect NOT one cent from this district. Jackson has been suing district for years and getting away with it. It is time to STOP these women!!! I say NO to this lawsuit!!! Move on women and find another job and do right by people on your next job. Oh! That's right, you are having a HARD time finding employment because of ALL the dirt you have on your names and past experiences. Too BAD!!!


Mon, Jul 12, 2010 : 4:26 p.m.

WR should have done more research prior to hiring Jackson. I mean serious..... an educator driving a Mercedes? If that is not a first clue of character. Her previous school had to give her the title to the Mercedes she was driving there. As questionable as her past is, I also question Washington motives. It seems as if Washington placed the district in liability by making it difficult for Jackson the whole time. Sounds like the same problems as Detroit Public Schools.


Mon, Jul 12, 2010 : 7:28 a.m.

All this WR bashing is so sad. For the record there are teachers who work VERY hard to educate the children in WR and love their job and students tremendously. Teachers who take time out of their own families lives to give to the students in this district. Teachers who were verbally assaulted by Dr. J a year ago while sitting in classrooms on a professional development day and threatened with talks of knowing how to use a hand gun and having a permit to do so. The "praying folks" were told after talks of a gun that they better start praying because "it's nothing but the Holy Ghost holding her back". So where has the harassment been coming from? As for MS. Hicks-she ran many good special education teachers out of the district and is clueless on what is best for children with special needs. She made decisions that were not in the best interest of the children because she clearly has not idea what she is doing! Getting them out of the district was the best thing that could ever happen and if money is lost in the process you can bet that the teachers will still love and educate the kids to the best of their ability! What goes on in the classrooms is a wonderful thing in WR-Don't knock it unless you've been in their!


Sat, Jul 10, 2010 : 3:08 p.m.

It's all very sad. Did DHJ mistreat people; yes. Did Board President Washington mistreat people; yes. They are cut from the same cloth. Two "power trippin" people who both lost sight of what remains important.....educating the children of Willow Run. Both out for their own gain. Too bad the rest of the board sat by and watched!Hopefully the new superintendent will assist with the final removal of Hope-Jackson and Hicks, and will teach the board how to act.


Sat, Jul 10, 2010 : 9:28 a.m.

Edward!!..what a sorry response. Sad. very sad. It's hard to see this school district go thru this. To the observer, it seems like an obvious attempt to get money. Ive been in this school district for 25 yrs. and since dhj has been here there has been nothing but anger.How can kids learn when they see and hear teachers and adm. fighting with each other. dhj.. shows no respect for others.The district lost many great teachers. IM so HAPPY to see DR.JOE back with us. FInally!!!!.


Sat, Jul 10, 2010 : 5:07 a.m.

Edward, I live in Superior Township and the only problem that I see in my community is Willow Run school system. I have lived her for 30+ years have many of the same neighbors I had at that time, and we are like family. We have excellent services and over 100 acres of wildlife reserve nearby. We see deer, turtles, bluebirds, egrets etc every day. Most of the neighbors send their children to schools of choice or charters. For you to assume to prejudge an entire area, says a lot more about you than about the area.


Fri, Jul 9, 2010 : 11:01 p.m.

@Mr. Ghost, "Willow Run is, in many ways, a dysfunctional community." "Any thoughful person would understand this basic truth." Dude, wow, this one takes the cake! You decide what is determined to be the "basic truth". Your statement above sounds rather racist to me, perhaps to others as well. As well, anyone that disagrees with you is not a "thoughful person". Goes along with your all knowning of the "basic truth".


Fri, Jul 9, 2010 : 10:22 p.m.

The WR school district is the "poster child" for all that is wrong with public education. All the blood, sweat,tears,lawsuits and wasted money spent on everyone but the children. What an absolute shame!

Informed and Educated

Fri, Jul 9, 2010 : 9:26 p.m.

@Cash - Claudette Braxton was the Board president at the time DHJ was hired. Andy Blakita (another strong supporter) was also on the Board. Brenda Clay was also on the Board at that time. Ms. Brown, Mr. Garrett, Ms. Thomas are all new to the Board since DHJ was hired. @ ILJ - Spot on.


Fri, Jul 9, 2010 : 6:57 p.m.

So theyre suing under the Michigan Whistleblowers Protection Act. Their claim is that Hicks and Hope-Jackson reported violations or suspected violations of law to the police and Washington retaliated against them for that. Except the police report says not a crime. What other reason would two educated women report to police that someone yelled at them, knowing that yelling at someone is not a crime, if not to create something to blow the whistle on? Seems completely contrived.


Fri, Jul 9, 2010 : 4:39 p.m.

"That wasn't the first time the duo exchanged testy e-mails. Washington has been critical of Hope-Jackson for most of Hope-Jacksons time with the district, even though Washington voted to hire Hope-Jackson." It was not prior board members who hired her. This same board member who is now leading the charge against her, recommended hiring her. Why?

Jay Thomas

Fri, Jul 9, 2010 : 3:24 p.m.

It's clear to me that these "educators" are only looking out for themselves and are most likely incompetent. Competent people don't have lawsuits everywhere they go. @Amelia: It tells them that affirmative action WORKS and can get you a job that you are not qualified for. Look to the Detroit school system for more examples of the illiterate in key positions of authority.

Top Cat

Fri, Jul 9, 2010 : 3:06 p.m.

Education is too important to give the public sector an effective monopoly on it. The parents in the WR school district and in the entire state need to be empowered to have more choices, both private and public, as to where to send their children to school.

Informed and Educated

Fri, Jul 9, 2010 : 2:52 p.m.

@ Teacher- AMEN!


Fri, Jul 9, 2010 : 2:37 p.m.

This is a very sad but interesting story. Dr. Hope-Jackson and Laconda Hicks seem to be very sure of actions that they deem were harassing towards them. During their time at Willow Run both women treated many employees with continuous hostile and harassing actions especially Hicks. When concerns were expressed over their actions, their belief was that they were just doing their jobs. At times it felt like they got pleasure out of mistreating employees - reprimanding employees based on false accusations, withholding pay, and reassigning people just because they could. Willow Run lost many, many quality employees because they just could not remain in the toxic working environment that was present while Hope-Jackson and Hicks were in power. If both women felt it necessary to file a complaint with the police, why was it just a citizen's assist report? Why did they not ask for an investigation? Dr. Hope-Jackson states that the action was done in front of witnesses. Did the police talk to any witnesses? The filing of the police report with no request for an investigation sounds like people trying to create a paper trail that only illustrates their version of a story. There are always two sides to a story. How were these on the job incidents reported to the Human Resources Department in the district? What action did the Human Resources Department take? Surely, Willow Run does not allow employee harassment. This lawsuit appears to be an attempt to gain a monetary settlement where it is most likely not warranted. If Dr. Hope-Jackson and Laconda Hicks are the wonderful educators that their attorney claims them to be, they should have no problem gaining productive employment in another district where their compensation can be based on hard work rather than lawsuit dollars.


Fri, Jul 9, 2010 : 2:16 p.m.

what about the chlldwen??


Fri, Jul 9, 2010 : 1:56 p.m.

As someone who has done many a background check, professionally, I have to tell you it's not that hard, especially in this age of electronic information. Heck, anyone could have Googled Hope-Jackson, as I did when she was hired, and seen all kinds of red flags. Willow Run isn't the only district that has neglected to take that vital hiring step and been stuck with a loser. Human resources administrators should be required to conduct one. After watching this whole mess unfold ever since Hope-Jackson was hired, I am siding with Sheri Washington. But, I still cannot figure out why the board didn't pull police in, unless they are unable to substantiate the accusations they made against Hicks and Hope-Jackson. If there has been criminal activity, which the board alleges, let the police handle it.


Fri, Jul 9, 2010 : 1:51 p.m.

Also, when did we start bestowing "respect" on people who have not earned it? When I was growing up, my parents taught me to earn peoples respectnot to expect it. It does not appear to me that either of these women have done anything to earn respect. Quite the opposite, actually...

Life in Ypsi

Fri, Jul 9, 2010 : 1:46 p.m.

i removed one child from WR and will probably remove my other one this year or next year. I no longer have confidence in this district. I don't know where I'm going to send my child to school. I'm not impressed with Van Buren or Ypsi and there are no charter high schools. I can't sell my house and am stuck in a crap neighborhood with crap schools. I drive by all the new homes in Superior Township and think to myself "if only our district had their act together these families would feel confident sending their children to WR and things could be so much better with more children from stable middle class homes.


Fri, Jul 9, 2010 : 1:45 p.m.

It occurs to me that the previous board may have hired her because they were terrified not to I mean, the threat (implied or stated) of a racially based lawsuit is very powerful. And it appears that these two clowns are capable of anything.


Fri, Jul 9, 2010 : 12:40 p.m.

Have to go with Cash on this one - the state should take over the school district and appoint a Robert Bob type to help with organize the school. Unfortunately, the Gov waits until a district is $300 million in deficit before doing so. In June, Tom Perkins posted a story describing WR having a $3 million deficit. The district is hoping for an enrollment increase to balance the budget. In re to the WCSD report, perhaps there never was a delay, it may have been forward to the prosecutor's office where any further action was denied or simply closed for lack of evidence. This is bad, makes a bad situation much worse.

scooter dog

Fri, Jul 9, 2010 : 12:32 p.m.

There are companys that all the do is screen prospective clients for all kinds of white collar jobs,there commonly known as "head hunters" While their services are not cheap,they weed out unqualified prospects and are well worth the money they charge. I urge the WR school board or anyone else looking for QUALIFIED leaders to use such companys for future employment searches

Informed and Educated

Fri, Jul 9, 2010 : 12:14 p.m.

@Cash - The Board has changed since the time when she was hired. I am not disagreeing with you, she should never have been hired. I can't explain why the Board thought she would be a good leader for the District.


Fri, Jul 9, 2010 : 12:08 p.m.

And that stupid word "disrespected". Honestly.


Fri, Jul 9, 2010 : noon

Let me amend my comment. It must have been offensive, since it wasn't printed. Are these two related in any way to a certain man's wife who attempted to sue the city of Detroit? Her lawsuit was thrown out. So should this one be.


Fri, Jul 9, 2010 : 11:59 a.m.

Informed and Educated, Then why was this person hired? Look at her background! Did the board hire her or not?

Informed and Educated

Fri, Jul 9, 2010 : 11:54 a.m.

"The parties" are clearly not thinking of themselves. DHJ and LH are doing that. The District and Sheri Washington are doing what is right and what is best for children. Don't knock them for doing the right thing. @ Awakened-you are right, there must be a change. That is exactly what the Board is trying to achieve with Sheri's leadership. I commend them all for finally standing up for what is right and not just waiting for someone else to make a change. @ Always Late and Semper Fi - Unfortunately the Board of Education at the time of DHJ's hire did not seem to have a problem with the background check. Now there is a new Board President in town! @ Amelia-You are correct! She is a horrible excuse for a professional. @ Pam-you are absolutely correct! These women praised God and used him as a shield and pretended to be "good" women. @ Everyone else-If you have not worked with these two specimens (LH and DHJ), you have no idea what these two are like or are capable of. They are not pleasant human beings to be in contact with.


Fri, Jul 9, 2010 : 10:47 a.m.

Who will take care of the children? Greed will get you exactly where you need to be...and I'll bet these two women say they are christians and go praise every Sunday!!!! I would never send a child of mine to WRSD, because somebody is going be left behind! PERIOD.


Fri, Jul 9, 2010 : 10:31 a.m.

Did the WCSD find the police report of the alleged almost one year old incident yet? It's Friday and it's almost noon.


Fri, Jul 9, 2010 : 9:52 a.m.

Doris should be sent packing for her lack of writing skills. Look at the emails--sentence structure and random punctuation to start with. This is unacceptable coming from a superintendent. What does this tell your students?


Fri, Jul 9, 2010 : 9:39 a.m.

I find this to be absurd. Fire all involved and start over.

Momma G

Fri, Jul 9, 2010 : 9:02 a.m.

Thanks Edward, interesting stuff. When is Hope-Jackson going to quit taking from the students? She is a poor excuse of an administrator and I agree with AlwaysLate. Have one of those in Ann Arbor school district, too, incompetent, blaming race and others for his incomptency. Let's pay consultant fees to help him do his job!


Fri, Jul 9, 2010 : 8:48 a.m.

DRAMA - Makes one embarrassed to say they are a graduate of WR.


Fri, Jul 9, 2010 : 8:40 a.m.

Bottom feeders fighting over what's left of a failed school district..It seems to happen in Detroit all the time too.


Fri, Jul 9, 2010 : 8:39 a.m.

Did the WR School Board bother to do a background check on Hope-Jackson when they hired her? She had 2 outstanding lawsuits with previous employers and this didn't send a red flag to anybody. WR Schools get what they deserve, I guess.


Fri, Jul 9, 2010 : 8:35 a.m.

Can't we all just get along?


Fri, Jul 9, 2010 : 8:12 a.m.

Ever notice how the incompetent people, when their incompetence is unveiled, try to deflect the attention away from them selves by hiding behind God, racism or the legal systemor combinations of those things? Hey Willow Run!!! How did you let these dolts in the door in the first place??


Fri, Jul 9, 2010 : 7:38 a.m.

So, Ms Hope-Jackson lost out on the new job in Chicago, and now wants her old job back. I take it that if she had secured the job in Chi town, she would have dropped that portion of her suit? Once again, the students continue to suffer. In this case, more school funds will be diverted from students to defending law suits.

scooter dog

Fri, Jul 9, 2010 : 7:23 a.m.

Wow,She has 3 yrs left on her CONTRACT and they fired her for a self serving issue. Guess what WR school board your on the hook for all monies owed her under the terms of her contract and if you lose in court you have to pay ALL of her attorney costs Don't know who is advising you on legal issues but you need to change advisers and harrassment in the work place is not tolerated in this state


Fri, Jul 9, 2010 : 7:22 a.m.

Clearly, these people are in it for the kids. How noble and courageous. Surely the district can afford to shell out the money to cover the costs and the judgment. School boards are not the best way to direct our education systems--we should change their role in educational decisions. I still can't get over the Rossi Ray-Taylor fiasco.


Fri, Jul 9, 2010 : 7:14 a.m.

My impression is that this self-serving attitude and in-fighting is symptomatic of the insular environment in our public schools where tenure and seniority seem to trump competence and honesty. There must be an change.


Fri, Jul 9, 2010 : 7:12 a.m.

You could kind of see this coming. Just wonder what took so long for Hope-Jackson to file a lawsuit. I assume her job hunting isn't going very well.


Fri, Jul 9, 2010 : 7:08 a.m.

This reads like reality TV.

scooter dog

Fri, Jul 9, 2010 : 6:51 a.m.

And the circus keeps on rolling at W/R


Fri, Jul 9, 2010 : 6:18 a.m.

As always, the parties think only of themselves, one reciting how she used to be a WR student, which has absolutely nothing to do with this fiasco. It's not about you, maam. This has to stop. Please please State of Michigan take over this dysfunctional district. Over my lifetime I've paid six figures in property taxes to WR district for nothing but embarrassment, humiliation and the poor education of the area students. I am ashamed to live in this district and wouldn't send my dog to WR district. When will this board and the administration get it? People here are sick of your personal agendas, your bickering, and the shame you bring to us as residents and taxpayers. We deserve much better than this! Stop the madness now!