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Posted on Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 4:28 p.m.

3 internal candidates apply for Ypsilanti-Willow Run superintendent position

By Danielle Arndt

Previous coverage:

Three employees from the Ypsilanti and Willow Run school districts have applied to be the superintendent of the new consolidated school system.


Current Willow Run Superintendent Laura Lisiscki and Ypsilanti Superintendent Dedrick Martin are expected to be two of three applicants vying to lead the new consolidated district.

Danielle Arndt | file photo

Ypsilanti Community Schools, the name chosen for the new district, will open its doors to students in September, and the Board of Education is working to select the district’s leader.

A special meeting was called for 7:45 p.m. Wednesday at the Ypsilanti Public Schools Administration Building, 1885 Packard Road. The bulk of the special meeting will be a closed session for the purpose of reviewing and considering the applications.

The names of the applicants granted interviews will be made public following Wednesday’s meeting.

The three internal candidates will be interviewed at Thursday’s Board of Education meeting, which is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Ypsilanti High School.

Both Willow Run and Ypsilanti’s current superintendents, Laura Lisiscki and Dedrick Martin, previously said they planned to apply.

Sharon Irvine, Ypsilanti’s executive director of human resources, recently applied for a superintendent opening in Tecumseh Public Schools. It is not clear whether she is the third applicant.

The unified Board of Education contracted with the Michigan Leadership Institute to conduct the superintendent search. Board members decided to open the position to internal candidates first. The deadline to apply was Friday.

External candidates have until 4 p.m. March 1 to apply for the position. External applicants only will be considered if an internal candidate is not selected, school officials said.

The board is expected to select a superintendent by March 27.

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



Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 1:35 p.m.

Ms. Laura Lisiscki is the stellar candidate. She has been exemplary as an educational leader-- first as a classroom teacher, then as a principal, and most recently as a superintendent. The best education for all is her mission. Ms. Lisiscki has a keen intelligence and absolute integrity. No one can match her for honesty and diligence. She is respectful of all, and requires respect for all from all. Because she has such genuine care for the students and their families, she leads effectively and graciously.


Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 3:53 a.m.

@Ypsi Teacher - you hit the nail on the head! Along with many other qualities and qualifications, we have to put this person in the spotlight on a regular basis - with the media, with the MDE, with other constituents - and Lisiscki, as we all saw, and unfortunatley HEARD, last night, is NOT who I want representing my community, my schools or my children. It was embarrassing!


Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 2:58 a.m.

Lisiscki needs to be able to represent the new district....especially if she is going to run a world-class district. The ability to speak publicly will be an issue.

Eg Eg

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 1:09 a.m.

I'd like to know what happened to a new name for both schools. Ypsi Community Schools is a slap in the face for those of us that went to WR. The least they can do is call the sports teams the Flyers so we can keep some of our identity in this consolidation. As far as Superintendents go, my choice is with Lisiscki


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 12:04 p.m.

Speaking as a parent who has lived in both school districts, Ypsilanti Community is the *perfect* name to describe the geographic area served by the new school district. Regardless, such resentment doesn't help -- it poisons the spirit of cooperation needed for our mutual success.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 4:58 a.m.

"I'd like to know what happened to a new name for both schools. " Um, have you read the news recently? They polled all of the people in the two districts and this is what was chosen. A name with Willow Run in it didn't even make the top three.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 10:59 p.m.

Well the politics begin. I think the new board will be intellegent enough to select a person with vision, experience and good decesion making skills. Ms. Lisiscki has had the experience of turning a district around by working with people, communicating with the community and by making tough decisions during these perilous times. She did not start the year by entering in with a 4,000,000.00 deficit on top of the 10 mill that was already present. The board is charged to select a person that will lead the new district with integrity and passion for students. The grand standing throws off the vision. Let's put the politics aside and get down to the real issues!

Basic Bob

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 2:51 a.m.

While Ms. Lisiscki is to be admired and praised for taking charge when Dr. Hope-Jackson decided to stop showing up to work, it would be a stretch to say that WRCS has turned a corner.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 4:42 p.m.

I wonder how that would effect the remainder of the consolidation process, if one is hired over the others.

Meredith Schindler

Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 1:32 a.m.

I also agree that Sharon Irvine would be the best choice. I wonder why the district isn't releasing the names of the internal candidates and is meeting, apparently in closed session, tomorrow to review their applications before deciding who to interview the next day. It's disconcerting to feel so at sea with the people who have been entrusted to make decisions about the district my children attend.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 2:41 p.m.

beardown ... They are not just pretending to use the search firm - they ARE using the firm. And the MLI has done their job of gathering community and system input into the process. Your "voice" (people asking for external candidates only) apparently was not a loud one in the community. Speculation about the third candidate can end now. After last night's board session, the third candidate is, in fact, Sharon Irvine. She is a legitimate superintendent candidate, given the interest from other good districts in their searches. According to the article from the Tecumseh search, she is an attorney and working on a doctorate in addition to masters degrees in education, teaching and administrative experience at several levels in places like California and Northville in addition to Ypsi. And apparently she has only been back in Ypsi for a year or so - not part of the current financial issues, but maybe part of the solution? I don't disagree with you that it would seem to make more sense to interview some external candidates in addition to Ms. Irvine and the two current Superintendents. But it does seem that Sharon Irvine has the kind of horsepower and credentials the district is looking for in a candidate.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 4:53 a.m.

But, if the internal candidates due eck out the desired criteria, they are not looking at any of the external candidates. And based on the two who we know of, I personally don't believe they are acceptable choices, both because of their roles in the demise of their past districts and the political and pr nightmare it would create choosing one over the other. "The desire for a quick-but-legitimate search is in recognition of the need to shorten the uncertainty. " But how is it legitimate if they rule out all external candidates without reviewing them? Maybe the answer to all of the school districts problems is an external candidate? And I haven't even mentioned that the two candidates that we know of have a personal relationship with nearly half of the board. And, since the school district isn't really on a firm financial footing, why waste the money hiring a headhunter firm if there is a chance you won't use them? If you are going to hire the firm, use their results. If you don't like the results, make them find better candidates, don't settle on retreads.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 9:19 p.m.

I believe the approach is, to look at the external candidates if the internal ones don't meet the desired criteria. beardown - you appear too willing to assume those qualities don't exist with the internal candidates, considering the board is in fact using and following the recommendations of the search firm that you are recommending they use. Your concern about uncertainty driving interest in alternative schools is valid. Expanding and elongating the search to include external candidates will extend that uncertainty, and is unnecessary if the search firm sees legitimate candidacy internally. The desire for a quick-but-legitimate search is in recognition of the need to shorten the uncertainty. The new board is comprised of both legacy (from the previous respective boards) and new trustees. It seems fair to assume that their decisions will be adequately objective. They are vested in the future - not the past.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 8:26 p.m.

"It very well may be that the best candidate is sitting right there within the district, right now." It is also possible that they are one of the people who applied to the external search and will be missed when the board settles for the easy road and hires one of the internal candidates. Add in the political minefield of hiring an internal candidate (both sides will complain about favoritism to the other old school) and it just seem logical to at least look and see what is offered in the external candidates. The already paid the firm, right? So use them.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 5:01 p.m.

If the new district and its constituents desire positive change, and there is only one candidate that might clearly represent that sort of change ... then the internal-only approach does appear to be limited. However, if the 3rd candidate legitimately has the positive track record, the right credentials/experience, and the right breadth and depth of support within the community and system ... then the number of candidates or their origin (external vs internal) doesn't really matter. It very well may be that the best candidate is sitting right there within the district, right now. Regardless of where the candidates come from, here's hoping that the board recognizes and reacts to deliver on a concept of positive change, and doesn't fall prey to the sort of inertia or political expediancy that has led to past mistakes and current problems.

Basic Bob

Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 10:56 a.m.

I'd be happy if they don't hire another criminal.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 4:38 a.m.

And they are doomed to failure by sticking inside. Would you rather have them take a chance and try to find a high quality applicant outside? Or just go with one of the two people that got the two merged school districts into this mess? To me, two of the three candidates should be ruled out already. And since we don't know who the third is, I say look elsewhere.

Basic Bob

Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 2:38 a.m.

Those external candidates have worked out so well (Dr. Hope-Jackson and Mr. Benit) Unless they can get Dr. Ray-Taylor to throw her hat into the ring, they are taking an unnecessary chance going outside.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 2:03 a.m.

"External applicants only will be considered if an internal candidate is not selected, school officials said." So they are not even going to take a look at other candidates if one of these three nails their interview. Great...just great. Every article that comes out send a couple more students into the lotteries for the charters.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 11:54 p.m.

I agree with sad day, Ms. Irvine should be the choice. Mr. Martin has watched the deficit double since he came to Ypsi; he needs to move on. Ms. Lisiscki seems like a nice person and she has done her best in Willow Run, but I believe we need a new person with intelligence and drive. Ms. Irvine fills the bill.

sad day

Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 10 p.m.

I'm hoping for Sharon Irvine......She has the best people skills, and if anyone can pull this new district together it will be her.