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Posted on Sun, Apr 25, 2010 : 2:25 p.m.

Ypsilanti school board to vote on recommendation for next high school principal

By Tom Perkins

The Ypsilanti school district has recommended a principal from Superintendent Dedrick Martin’s former school district to become the next principal of Ypsilanti High School.

Board members will be asked Monday to approve the appointment of Justin Moore, a principal at Champaign, Ill Unit 4 District’s Centennial High School. Moore would take the place of Jon Brown, the current principal who is being asked to resign because he is a contract employee.

Martin acknowledged the choice might be controversial since Moore was a part of his former district, but said Moore has a history of success as an administrator, former teacher and football coach.


Ypsilanti Superintendent Dedrick Martin

Tom Perkins | For

“This is a young man who has done a phenomenal job in the places he has been, so I’m hoping that people would give him a chance,” Martin said. “I look at people with a track record of proven success and use that as a guiding indicator. Ultimately, my goal is to put the best teachers and administrators we can find in front of the kids.”

Moore, who worked with Martin for one year in Champaign Unit 4, was one of four candidates interviewed out of the nine resumes received. Martin said he was the only non-internal candidate.

Moore last held the principal’s position at Centennial High School, where Martin said academic performance improved. He said the school didn’t meet Annual Yearly Progress, but pointed to other academic improvements that were made, including in grades and state achievement tests.

Martin also praised Moore for his skills in developing relationships with students and bringing discipline to what he called a “tough” school in Champaign.

“Hopefully he can come in and build on a solid foundation that has been built by Mr. Brown,” Martin said.

Trustee Kira Berman said it isn’t uncommon for a superintendent to bring in someone he or she knows and trusts. But she said she's still doing her due diligence and doesn't have any comment on Moore before the meeting. 

“I am still looking for more information, and I am very concerned,” she said.

Kelly Powers, the Ypsilanti Education Association president who was on the hiring committee, said she had some concerns about the process, but was ultimately happy with Moore’s selection.

Powers said she was alerted to the fact that she was on the committee the morning interviews started, so she was late for the first interview, which was Moore’s.

She said in the few questions she heard, he seemed personable and appeared to be the type of person who could work with students and staff.

The second round of interviews was scheduled on a day Powers was out of the district, and she said Martin didn't allow her to choose an alternate representative from the union leadership. Instead, she was asked to choose two teachers, who were not there for the first round of interviews.

“That’s not enough to go on,” Powers said. “I would have liked to have known more about (Moore). But the buck stops with the superintendent, so we’ll see how that works out.”

Powers added Martin never tried to tell anyone how to think or decide and let the interview process play out. She added she's been supportive of the administrative changes Martin has made thus far and isn't particularly concerned Moore is from Martin's former district.

"I don’t care who is our high school principal as long as they are effective with our students and effective with teachers," she said. "If they can do that, I don’t care who they are or where they came from."

The interview committee also included two community parents, director of human resources John Fulton, district spokeswoman Emma Jackson and West Middle School principal Monica Merritt.

Moore was unavailable for comment. Martin said a complete bio would be available at Monday’s meeting.

Martin said Moore would receive $99,000 annually based on the principal’s union pay schedule. He said Brown receives $108,000, although he does not receive benefits as a contract employee.

Martin has said contract employees like Brown retired but were hired back into the district to temporarily fill vacancies. Because of contract language, they are ineligible to apply for full-time positions.

Tom Perkins is a freelance writer for Reach the news desk at or 734-623-2530.



Mon, Apr 26, 2010 : 9:37 a.m.

I suggest that folks take their questions to the School Board meeting tonight (7:00 @ Ypsi High School). Remember, the Board of Education must approve most staffing proposals, and they should do so in front of their constituents. The "buck" may "stop" with Dedrick Martin (as YEA president Kelly Powers said in a recent story about Ypsi teacher lay-offs), BUT he was hired by, and therefore works for, the Board of Education. And, as an elected body, the Board works for the people of this good city. Therefore, he (and they) must answer to US.

Tom Perkins

Mon, Apr 26, 2010 : 9:37 a.m.

Heather, She is the principal. Thanks. Tom

T Kinks

Mon, Apr 26, 2010 : 8:55 a.m.

I agree that Jon Brown has done a great job & truly does have the respect from students & parents alike. Most of the staff I've talked to would also like him to stay. Why is it the School Board refuses to listen to the students, parents & staff? Reminds me of the name change when the board completely ignored the wants of the students. Terry Heiss Carpentry


Mon, Apr 26, 2010 : 7:42 a.m.

You're exactly right, Heather. Some of these people "retired" because the district asked them to, with the understanding that they'd be hired back but would not get benefits from the district, thereby reducing the district's costs. Now, the new superintendent and some of the board have reneged on those agreements. In the case of this hire, Martin can be accused of cronyism, a fact of which he seems to be aware. Moore has already been told by the Champaign district that he will not be returning there, as they have chosen a restructuring plan that includes new leadership for the school. Yes, they have to restructure because they didn't make AYP, but the restructuring plan did not have to include new leadership. To me, Champaign's decision means Moore wasn't as auccessful as Martin is trying to portray. Even if he was a wunderkind, however, I'd have problems with his connection to Martin. We in Ypsilanti have had to deal with this kind of thing in the past and most of the time it did not work out well. Mr. Martin has not built a lot of trust in the few short months he's been here. By bringing in a cohort from his previous district, he appears to be ready to lean on past ties, rather than form new ones with the administrators and faculty he was brought in to lead. Until and unless Mr. Martin builds that trust, he'd do better to play with the team he has.


Mon, Apr 26, 2010 : 5:54 a.m.

Isn't Monica Merritt still the principal, not the assistant principal, at West Middle School? This situation puzzles me. As I understand it, YPSD came up with the idea of hiring contract employees to save the school district money. So why is that now a problem?


Sun, Apr 25, 2010 : 5:12 p.m.

the one big question that I would have...Why change something that seems to be working? Since the time we have lived in Ypsi...and Mr. Brown became the principal at the High School I would hear a lot of positive comments about the school. When we first arrived here (prior to Mr. Brown) all I would hear about was all the fights in the cafeteria and things. I know as a parent that Mr. Brown has earned my respect and my children's respect. He is fair and listens to the kids and the parents. He is willing to meet with you one-on-one if you desire. A lot of good has come from him as the principal. You are already trying to make so many other changes that affect the students...and now this change too?


Sun, Apr 25, 2010 : 3:43 p.m.

Oh..of course they did. What a joke.