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Posted on Tue, Jan 18, 2011 : 6 a.m.

Former Willow Run Superintendent Doris Hope-Jackson claims board member's spurned lesbian advance led to her firing

By David Jesse


Doris Hope-Jackson

Former Willow Run Schools Superintendent Doris Hope-Jackson has claimed in a lawsuit that a long-running conflict she had with former school board President Sheri Washington stemmed from a spurned lesbian advance Washington made shortly after Hope-Jackson was hired.

That spurned advance set Washington on a path to destroy Hope-Jackson that ended in her firing, Hope-Jackson alleges. In court filings, Washington said those claims were untrue.

Washington and the district deny that any such advance occurred.

Hope-Jackson is suing Washington and the school district, claiming they unjustly fired her last fall.

Hope-Jackson's original lawsuit alleges she was fired because she accused Washington of verbally assaulting her and had filed a police report making that allegation. She has amended the lawsuit to add seven additional counts, and makes the claim about the spurned lesbian advance in the amended filings.

“In the summer/fall of 2007, the defendant (Washington) made a sexual advance on plaintiff (Hope-Jackson),” a Dec. 2, 2010 filing from Hope-Jackson’s attorney Darryl Segars said. “Plaintiff rebuffed the sexual advance because she was not interested in a sexual relationship with her superior nor in a lesbian sex relationship.”


Sheri Washington

That’s not true at all, the district and Washington said in their response, and it's just an attempt by Hope-Jackson to squeeze the district for money.

The district is asking the court to dismiss the seven additional counts.

“This court is asked to rein in plaintiff’s attempt to transfer a one count whistleblower case into an eight count expose of exotic legal theories that will force a school district to devote limited resources to baseless claims.”

Washtenaw County Circuit Judge Timothy Connors held a hearing on that request on Jan. 6. As of Friday, he had not issued a ruling; however a scheduling conference for the lawsuit has been set for early February.

Washington, who lost a re-election bid in November, and is no longer on the school board, was unable to be reached for comment for this story.

The legal battle is the ending act in the relatively short saga of Hope-Jackson’s tenure in the Willow Run school district.

It started with Hope-Jackson promising to clean up the district academically and financially — promises that many, including Washington, believed. But by the end, those high expectations had been replaced by infighting, with Hope-Jackson and Washington often at the center.

The backstory

During Hope-Jackson’s tenure at Willow Run, she had conflicts with many people, including some members of the school board who hired her.

The acrimony came to a head in the fall of 2009, following school board elections that saw the departure of Hope-Jackson’s two biggest supporters on the board and the election of Washington as the board president.

Throughout the fall, the pair exchanged testy e-mails with each other.

Then, Hope-Jackson was injured in a car accident Oct. 17 and was on leave until Nov. 30.

Board members complained that Hope-Jackson did not communicate directly with them about her leave, and they reassigned her in early December to a newly created position and appointed Laura Lisiscki as the acting superintendent.

On Feb. 8, 2010, when Hope-Jackson returned from a one-week vacation she took because her office was unheated, she was escorted from the building and told to report to a 2:30 p.m. meeting, Hope-Jackson said in her suit.

“During the meeting, I was presented with a false draft of charges of misconduct and told that if I didn’t resign, the charges would become formalized and released to the press,” Hope-Jackson claimed in her suit.

She said she and the district tried to negotiate a severance over the next two months, but were unable to come to terms.

The school board approved a 46-page memo outlining a wide variety of charges against Hope-Jackson in late March. It then held 17 days of hearings on the charges before voting to fire Hope-Jackson in September.

The suit

In July, before she had been officially fired, Hope-Jackson filed her lawsuit against Sheri Washington and the district, alleging that she was being targeted because she had accused Washington of verbally assaulting her and because she filed a police report with the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Department against Washington.

The police report was filed for informational purposes only at the request of Hope-Jackson and Laconda Hicks, who was the district's student services administrator at the time, the report indicates. The nature of the report is listed as "assist citizen," and says "not a crime" under the disposition.

On Nov. 18, Hope-Jackson amended that suit to add several additional charges, including breach of contract, violation of due process, violation of the Bullard-Plawecki Employee Right to Know Act, violation of the People with Disabilities Civil Rights Act, defamation, retaliation and sexual harassment.

Hope-Jackson alleges that by releasing the charges against her to, the district defamed her and harmed her future earnings.

Willow Run's attorney, Scott Mandel, said in an e-mail that the district "strongly denies" this, and all of Hope-Jackson's claims.

The district said that under Michigan law, it had to release the information to when it filed a Freedom of Information Act the night of the school board meeting where the charges were approved. The now-defunct Ypsilanti Citizen website also filed a FOIA request for that information that night and got the charges.

"As much as we would like to offer the 'rest of the story,' because Dr. Hope-Jackson has elected to pursue this through litigation, we will devote our efforts to redressing these claims through the Court," Mandel said.

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



Thu, Jan 20, 2011 : 2:46 a.m.

"Hope-Jackson returned from a one-week vacation she took because her office was unheated" this is an interesting tidbit coming from DHJ who banished another employee to work alone in a vacant district building without heat or proper restroom facilities. It was so cold in the vacant building that the employee would eat his lunch in his car to keep warm. DHJ did not show one ounce of empathy towards that employee but felt the need to take a week off because her office was cold. How about buying a sweater.


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 1:17 p.m.

How sad!!!! In a very few years Willow Run has ceased to be a vivacious strong hold district of leadership and scholarship that worked as a community to raise up our kids. It has been a total downhill skid since the arrival of Hope-Jackson with good teachers, administrators, and staff being run off, fired, or positions eliminated. Kids became the bottom line in the wrong sense and continue to do so as monies meant for educating are all needed to support and defend such outlandish claims by one that so many of us have seen in action wronging our kids and fellow staff members. The kids of Willow Run are the ones that should have the headlines of a lawsuit for being wronged by Hope-Jackson.


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 5:07 a.m.

Thanks David Jesse for staying on top of this story.


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 4:13 a.m.

Although the headline is questionable, kudos to David for an article with at least some background and details. Much better than most of the "reporting" I've seen on here. The sad thing is that students continue to suffer in part because of mismanagement. Funny how the ad at the top of the article was for Ypsilanti Schools. Might we once and for all come to our senses and begin a process of combining districts? Too much waste in our schools so our teachers and students pay the price.

Rod Johnson

Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 3:28 a.m.

Oh, *yuck*, she actually went there.

needed perspective

Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 2:41 a.m.

after tjhe trial....the public should file a counter suit!!!!!!

needed perspective

Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 2:40 a.m.

OMG----OMG???? Go to trial....I want to see this circus clown take an oath!!!


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 2:07 a.m.

This is becoming outright bizarre! What a waste of taxpayers' money and the school-board's time. Obviously, the focus should be on quality education for Willow Run students and not court cases and police complaints.


Tue, Jan 18, 2011 : 10:38 p.m.

Al Sharpton's plane was just spotted at Willow Run Airport. There is a reservation at a local restaurant for Mr. Sharpton and an entorage of 25. Stay tuned for more.


Tue, Jan 18, 2011 : 9:08 p.m.

What is really going on here? Contentious board meetings, a SERIES of poor hiring decisions - isn't there another former super in prison prison for embezzlement or something? A small district where the academic results suck. And they are making the news because Hope-Jackson is accusing a board member of making a pass at her. Who cares. Whats going on with the academics?

Evelyn Griffin

Tue, Jan 18, 2011 : 7:55 p.m.

My goodness, Hope-Jackson is quite creative. She could start a consulting business in how to destroy the morale of a school district and move right on to how to destroy the school district if they have the courage to fire that person. EvieG


Tue, Jan 18, 2011 : 7:36 p.m.

Appears the lady may try anything to make noise. Did not the Board make a decision after a lengthy investigation that proved Ms. Hope Jackson was guilty of charges and dismissed. In light of all that one would think her credibility is nil.


Tue, Jan 18, 2011 : 7:19 p.m.

Only in Willow Run can Washington come to Hope..........

Top Cat

Tue, Jan 18, 2011 : 6:27 p.m.

If Ms. Hope-Jackson believed in the putting the interests of the children of this school district first, she would accept her dismissal with dignity and grace, not waste the school district's diminished resources with an expensive law suit and walk away and get on with her life.


Tue, Jan 18, 2011 : 6:18 p.m.

Give Hope-Jackson credit, I suppose, for being very bold and "creative." When, career-wise, you've got your back to the wall after being shown the door once again, then reach for that old standby — the sexual accusation. Dubious claims like this occur just often enough that they create issues for the majority who bring forth accurate accusations. Hope-Jackson has now made her own contribution to weakening the overall credibility of accusers.

Marshall Applewhite

Tue, Jan 18, 2011 : 6:02 p.m.

I'm genuinely curious..... What are the rules regarding workplace lesbian advances, and at what point might they rise to the level of sexual harassment? Are these any different than when straight people make sexual advances in the workplace?


Tue, Jan 18, 2011 : 5:44 p.m.

Let's see...right from the playbook. When you have no legitimate response to a performance question, scream racism, homophobia, ageism, get the point. How about people begin to take RESPONSIBILTY for their own performance or lack there of.


Tue, Jan 18, 2011 : 4:26 p.m.

Doris Hope-Whatever should consider running for mayor of Detroit.


Tue, Jan 18, 2011 : 3:42 p.m.

We need text messages ...or it didn't happen.


Tue, Jan 18, 2011 : 5:08 p.m.

Remember..."Busted is what you see!"


Tue, Jan 18, 2011 : 3:08 p.m.

This woman has no credibility left. Not that she should have had much in the first place taking her employment history into account. The more we learn about her past, the more I wonder how she was ever hired in the first place.

Woman in Ypsilanti

Tue, Jan 18, 2011 : 3:07 p.m.

Obviously I have no idea if there actually was any sort of sexual harassment involved here. I'm content to let the courts decide that. But this can serve as a word of caution to other employers. If you violate a labor law, it can make it very difficult to fire even a terrible employee.


Tue, Jan 18, 2011 : 3:03 p.m.

I'm still at a lose as to how this person keeps getting hired. She is clearly unqualified on many levels. Calumet School District, Willow Run School District, et al....must claim a large portion of the blame for the wreckage the woman has created. If they had done their due diligence and checked on her past non-performances they would have never hired her. Or would they…?


Tue, Jan 18, 2011 : 2:07 p.m.

I can't believe people are still hiring this woman. Any type of background check would show she is not at all an ideal candidate.


Tue, Jan 18, 2011 : 2:06 p.m.

At this point Willow Run needs to be shut down and folded into another school district. It seems the purpose of the district is to pay administrators and not to educate children. It is interesting theater.

Steve in MI

Tue, Jan 18, 2011 : 2:06 p.m.

Really, Can't resist playing in to this attention-seeker's hands in the tackiest way possible? It's not a romantic advance, it's not an advance from a black person, or an advance from her boss; those wouldn't grab as many page views. It's a LESBIAN advance, cuz that's titillating and will make you more clicks. Never mind that calling out any of the participants' other characteristics in the headline would be roundly condemned; there's still shock value and monetary value for you in implying that something GAY was going on. And next week you'll run an article claiming to be shocked - SHOCKED - that LGBTQ kids get pushed around in schools. Worst. Headline. Ever.


Tue, Jan 18, 2011 : 5:07 p.m.

I know I read this article because of the headline.


Tue, Jan 18, 2011 : 1:58 p.m.

Good Heavens!!!! When wil this circus end? At this rate with lawsuits being filed, accusations being thrown around, the Willow Run District will have no money left to educate the kids in their schools. Ms Jackson was, according to news reports an incompetent superintendent, and was fired for cause, but looks like she is going to financially ruin the School District to satisfy her ego.


Tue, Jan 18, 2011 : 1:52 p.m.

Oh, no. I thought we were done with this.


Tue, Jan 18, 2011 : 1:50 p.m.

Ridiculous, this woman should be ashamed of herself. Won't call her a lady, she is not deserving of that title.


Tue, Jan 18, 2011 : 1:50 p.m.

And these were the people running a school district. Anyone that was at all involved in the hiring should quit right now. What a joke.


Tue, Jan 18, 2011 : 1:37 p.m.

Be careful posting a comment....she may they to find a reason to sue you too.


Tue, Jan 18, 2011 : 1:32 p.m.

Well, of course was caused by a spurned lesbian advance. Both people in question are of the same race, so that is out. Since they are both female, a heterosexual advance wouldn't make it either. What's left.....oh yes, a lesbian advance. Probably has nothing at all to do with Hope-Jackson's dismal job performance. I hope Sherri counter sues for libel. It's about time that people that spin this stuff are held accountable. No, I don't believe Doris. Glad she is gone.


Tue, Jan 18, 2011 : 1:30 p.m.

Tort reform anyone?


Tue, Jan 18, 2011 : 1:28 p.m.

Of course, what would expect.

Steve Pepple

Tue, Jan 18, 2011 : 1:07 p.m.

An off-topic and inappropriate comment was removed, along with a comment responding to it.

Edward Vielmetti

Tue, Jan 18, 2011 : 1:04 p.m.

For more of the back story, <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> has accounts of Hope-Jackson's litigation against former employers going back to 2003.


Tue, Jan 18, 2011 : 11:56 a.m.

Oh boy, here we go again. Although she did a horrible job running a school, she seems to know how to bring law suits with passion and energy.


Tue, Jan 18, 2011 : 11:50 a.m.

Oh no. Just when I thought the circus had packed up and left town. Apparently some of the clowns stayed around.


Tue, Jan 18, 2011 : 11:42 a.m.

It's hard to find an area that Hope-Jackson did not litigate over! Lesbian advances somewhere in the summer-fall season of 2007? Before this is over there won't be a Willow Run school district with the amount of money spent on firing one irate employee.