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Posted on Tue, May 7, 2013 : 12:15 p.m.

Superintendent: Ypsilanti schools cautiously reviewing 'exceptions' in teacher hiring process

By Danielle Arndt

Previous coverage:

School officials reflected Monday at the joint Ypsilanti-Willow Run Board of Education meeting on the recent teacher hiring decisions and how to proceed with reviewing and evaluating the process.

Bob Galardi, the retired Ann Arbor Public Schools administrator whom the Ypsilanti Community Schools district recruited to head the teacher selection committee, attended Monday's board meeting to answer any questions school trustees may have about the re-hiring process.


WISD Superintendent Scott Menzel looks over several charts of poll numbers at the Tower Inn Cafe in Ypsilanti on Election Day this past November, when voters in the Ypsilanti and Willow Run school districts approved the consolidation.

Daniel Brenner I file photo

The biggest questions board members had were what was the committee doing now that the notifications were sent out to review the procedures and handle concerns from parents or employees, as well as whether there would be a formal appeal process for individuals who were not issued intent-to-hire letters.

School officials issued notification letters to 258 teacher applicants Friday afternoon. A total of 171 teachers from both district were told they would be hired back.

Of the 73 teachers who applied from Willow Run Community Schools for a spot in the consolidated district, 43 people, or 59 percent, were given a "yes." In Ypsilanti Public Schools, 183 people applied and 126, or 69 percent of the applicants, were offered positions.

A three- to four-person team lead by Galardi interviewed all 258 candidates between mid-March, when applications were due, and the end of April, to be able to notify teachers by May 3 of their status in the new district.

Washtenaw Intermediate School District and YCS Superintendent Scott Menzel said the compressed timeline was established primarily because of feedback from teachers who said they needed to know as soon as possible so they could make other arrangements. Originally, the new district did not intend to notify teachers until June when school was out to avoid distracting students.

"We were very intentional, even though it was a compressed timeframe," Menzel said.

Willow Run Superintendent Laura Lisiscki and Board of Education President David Bates commended teachers for maintaining high levels of focus and professionalism Monday, the first day back since the notices went out. Bates said it's a tremendous credit to the teachers, who were able to show up and be there for their kids, despite the personal and emotional hardships.

"I visited all of the schools in both districts today. ... It was business as usual," Lisiscki said.

Galardi said the teacher selection committee made sure every letter — whether a "yes," "no" or "maybe" — was supported by documentation. All candidates will be given an opportunity, if requested, to review the materials used in their individual determinations, he said.

Candidates with concerns about the letters and with specific questions about why and how a determination was made can contact Galardi directly.

"I'm happy to talk to them. ... I'll give time to anybody who wants to review it with me. These are important decisions and I recognize this," he said.

School board member Maria Sheler-Edwards asked whether there would be a formal appeal process for teachers interested in arguing a decision that was made.

Menzel said the term "appeal" is not one he has heard come up very frequently; and if a process were developed, it would need to be cleared through the new district's legal counsel. Galardi said if the superintendents and administrative staff deemed it necessary and appropriate, and feel it would not take the committee outside of its good processes, then he would begin this week working with the attorneys.

"We want to do right thing," he said.

The problem with appeals is "there are a fixed number of jobs going into next year that we've planned for," Menzel said. "... We can't go above that for budgetary reasons.

"... So if you are going to take appeals, in a traditional sense, then who are you going to take off the list? You'd then have a whole other set of appeals there."

Menzel said, right now, officials are reviewing the process itself to see if there were any aspects of it that would explain why some people didn't even get a "maybe" letter when perhaps they should have.

"We're investigating that to see if there is something else that we missed that might be an explanatory variable," he said. "People are raising questions about how could this teacher not have been selected and here's why we believe that something was missed in this process. ... Those cases we're going back and looking at.

"We're looking at the specifics of the scoring, just to make sure that the integrity of the process is defensible across the board because that's absolutely crucial."


Joint Ypsilanti-Willow Run Board President David Bates speaks during a meeting on Monday, Feb. 25, 2013.

Courtney Sacco I file photo

Menzel reiterated that no hiring process is perfect. He said largely, the best teacher candidates were selected, with possibly a few exceptions. The exceptions are what officials are investigating now — very cautiously, he said.

"We have to look at the process and evaluate. ... It's hard to say that the process was carried out consistently across the board, and now we'd consider changing the rules for some people afterward. To do that would throw it all into question," he said. "So we have to be very careful, from a legal perspective, about how we proceed. So we're going to go back and review, and then make decisions (on a potential appeal process)."

Two teachers from Ypsilanti Public Schools attended Monday's joint Board of Education meeting to share thoughts on a few excellent teachers that they felt were unfairly dismissed in the re-hire process, including Krista Boyer, a kindergarten teacher and the current YPS teachers union president, who was given a "maybe" letter. The maybes are contingent upon state funding and student enrollment.

Parent Tamara Larson said she cried and it "broke her heart" when she learned Boyer would not be coming back. She said Boyer is one of the most caring teachers she has ever met. She told how Boyer purchased coats, boots, scarfs and mittens for some homeless students in her class at Christmas time using money from her own pocket.

"Shame on you. You've robbed these kids of some amazing teachers," Larson said. "I hope those of you who made the decisions sleep good at night."

Bates thanked these parents for coming to the meeting Monday, stating it was a good reminder for the board of how personal and tough decisions like these are.

"It's an opportunity to sit back, reflect and think about what these decisions mean," he said. "There have been many cases and times in the past ... where we, as school boards in both districts, have avoided making difficult decisions, not necessarily related to hiring, per say, but the fact is that (avoiding) has resulted in the situation we're in now.

"As board members, there is a lesson for us to be learned here."

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



Thu, May 9, 2013 : 3:33 p.m.

I believe the re-hiring process was severely flawed and believe each Maybe or No should be re-examined. Compare those teachers stats from past years, listen to the parents and colleagues who have interacted with those teachers, speak with the former students of those teachers....then you might have a different look on how much one teacher has made a difference (and will continue to do so) in the public schools. These are the teachers you want in the "new" community schools! I have had the privilege of interacting with Krista Boyer this year as my son is in her class. Mrs Boyer treats EACH child as her own. I have sat in the class and watched how her children ENJOY learning, stay attentive, and strive to reach each new education step they can. She bought each student a "reading buddy" stuffed animal to encourage reading opportunities during Winter Break. She has an open door when dealing with parents. My son was having difficulty focusing in class and she did not hestitate to call to discuss plans to get him on the right track. With her help and advice, my son has improved within the last 4wks of school and is finishing his school work every day. Room 4 at PCDC has many different learning and physical levels and challenges. Krista does a WONDERFUL job to make sure EVERY child reaches the maximum education possible!!


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 9:22 p.m.

I don't understand why all of the teachers weren't just rehired. Then they could plan for how they would lay off in September- it would have given them a lot more time to come up with a fair plan . Teachers are often laid off in September anyways when numbers are low. I heard that the other districts in Michigan who consolidated (Britton-Deerfield?) kept all of their teachers.


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 3:01 p.m.

Sorry but the board "apologies" are not ringing true here. They had months to prepare for this process. Specifically, how teachers would be interviewed, references be contacted and prepare assisting teachers with future employment opportunities who were not retained by the district. If I have it correct, this appointed board is suppose to represent the best of the best of community professionals" correct? At least one a H.R. Professional/Specialist is on this board. Yet, none of these professionals could craft a fairer hiring process then what's been shown. This is why School Boards should not be appointed. School Board Members should be elected by voters (actual stakeholders) of the community. A point of clarity. Ms. Boyer taught Special Education students (a gift) and was the President of YPSD Teacher's Union correct? Yet Ms. Boyer was not retained action was despite holding an additional teacher certification as a highly skilled professional - S.E. Instructor. Wonder why? Finally, why teachers were asked to submit references, yet from what's been told to date, the references were not contacted. The community deserves to have more information on this "process".


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 4:23 p.m.

What was done in the dark will come to the light! Each teacher has a story to tell.


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 3:14 a.m.

"...the compressed timeline was established primarily because of feedback from teachers who said they needed to know as soon as possible so they could make other arrangements. Originally, the new district did not intend to notify teachers until June when school was out to avoid distracting students." How did this factor into the "fairness" or "equity" of the process? Was the fact that the 'teachers' (just how many?) wanted an expedited timeline have anything to do with it?


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 3:02 a.m.

Not surprising to hear the process was flawed - look who they hired to oversee this process. Bob Galardi is a joke! He was awful as an administrator in Ann Arbor. Now he thinks he's an important and knowledgable consultant - what a joke!

Krista Somers Boyer

Tue, May 7, 2013 : 11:52 p.m.

While I am overwhelmed, humbled, and honored by the overwhelming show of support, I want to make it known that this is NOT just about the contents of MY envelope. There were MANY excellent, inspiring, dedicated professionals who found their envelopes filled with heartbreaking news. The decision making process must be thoroughly examined and explained to the teachers and community members. While my weekend was filled with emotions, my focus is on the students in my classroom. My goal in my classroom will continue to be to make the world a little bit better place by promoting achievement and acceptance and teaching my students to speak up, ask questions, and try to make a difference. I am confident that my colleagues in both Ypsilanti and Willow Run will continue to do the same.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 11:30 p.m.

The article states, "A total of 171 teachers from both district were told they would be hired back. Of the 73 teachers who applied from Willow Run Community Schools for a spot in the consolidated district, 43 people, or 59 percent, were given a "yes." In Ypsilanti Public Schools, 183 people applied and 126, or 69 percent of the applicants, were offered positions." Still confused am I: 43 + 126 = 169 not 171 as stated.


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 2:03 a.m.

2 undecided votes. Good luck to those who are not welcomed back to the new district. Time to move on. New union, new MEA and guess what? You now have the right to decide if you want to be in the union as well. Wow, welcome to the new ways of doing things. Should see how life is on the bus drivers and monitors side of life. Going to suck isn't it? Full support over here. Maybe.

Dan r OBryan

Tue, May 7, 2013 : 10:36 p.m.

Laura Lisiscki is joke for selling Willow Run out.

Dan r OBryan

Tue, May 7, 2013 : 10:33 p.m.

willow run community is planning a protest Monday on the north side by the middle school sign. 3.00 may 13. the whole process has been misleading . teachers and student ,the WHOLE COMMUNITY has been wronged .


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 2:01 a.m.

been there done that. Good luck with that one.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 9:22 p.m.

Both of my sons have had the priviledge of having Krista Boyer as a kindergarten teacher. Over the past 4 years I have seen her teach, care for, mentor, nurture, and uplift COUNTLESS children who desperately need such attention. The loss that the students of Ypsilanti will feel without her in a classroom is immeasurable. Overall, this hiring process has been shallow, hurried, and without any organization. I have heard (after interviews and classroom visits) that students at the high school level were asked arbitrary questions like "Do you like your teacher?" Where is the science and precision in this so-called hiring process? I pray for these schools, this community, and our children. The future of Ypsilanti Community Schools has been placed in the hands of uninformed fools. Shame on you all.


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 2 a.m.

Uh huh. Ask your children about their favorite bus driver and/or monitor that was not hired back. Mommy that was my favorite driver. Guess what? Not coming back and the ones that were hired? Only in it for the pay check. Really? Sorry johnny but it looks you have to put up with that driver because we can't drive you to school. Yes...really.

Tamara Craft Larson

Tue, May 7, 2013 : 10:22 p.m.

Agreed!! My son had Krista also. When he heard, she got a maybe he told me.. "Mommy... she is one of the bestest teachers out there? What is wrong with these people?!" I have to agree with him.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 9:15 p.m.

The re-hiring process was seriously flawed and does not seem to have been conducted in good faith. Some teachers were surprised in a morning to learn they would be observed (interviewed) the same day. A teacher had no opportunity to showcase or discuss their strengths, and references were not contacted. It would be great if teachers who were given a "no" letter have an opportunity to appeal.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 7:59 p.m.

What about the person hired who has never taught? When will this ever end? Happy Teachers Day to all those highly qualified teachers who received a maybe or no. You are not a maybe or no . We will continue to question and support your investigations.

Nick Danger

Tue, May 7, 2013 : 7:34 p.m.

There were concerns by those who conducted the interviews and observations.The process was flawed.


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 1:57 a.m.

A famous word that is being thrown around these days and it fits perfect here. Really?? You really think so? Gee revisit bus drivers and monitors who were not hired back. Gee think of their shock and dismay. WR teachers only did what they were told to do by the principal. Pass them and move on. Even if the children were failing. Yes, really!


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 7:45 p.m.

Flawed is being polticially correct. It was broken from the beginning. Some teachers were informed of their interview a day or two prior, references and recommendations were not called or read, and it seemed like those in the process were making things up as they were going. This is troubling since the teachers in the school district are the second most important part of the school, behind the children of course. This seems to have been lost on the board during this process.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 5:10 p.m.

Seems like a lot of teachers to fully interview during such a short period of time. One of those weeks was spring break, meaning they did them all pretty quickly. My children all had Mrs. Boyer, she was one of the bright spots for the Ypsilanti school district. Anxious to hear more about how they evaluated ALL these professionals, the questions they were asked, and how much input principals had in the process.

tom swift jr.

Tue, May 7, 2013 : 5:03 p.m.

This photo has been used a number of times recently, it would be nice if the caption could indicate that the other gentleman in the photo is Dr. Youssef Yomtoob, former Superintendent of Willow Run Schools.