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Posted on Sat, May 4, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Unanswered questions: Ypsilanti, Willow Run teachers shocked and saddened by hiring decisions

By Danielle Arndt


Ypsilanti foreign language teachers Barbara Martin, left, and Frances Heires seek solitude in the grass under the trees behind Ypsilanti High School Friday, after opening their letters from the new district and learning they were guaranteed jobs.

Daniel Brenner |

Despite 66 percent of teachers receiving "good news," the mood was a combination of somber, surreal and incredulous at Ypsilanti and Willow Run schools Friday afternoon, after teachers in the two merging districts were given notice of their employment status in the new consolidated district.

One hundred and seventy-one teachers from Ypsilanti and Willow Run were told they definitely have positions within Ypsilanti Community Schools when it launches July 1. Another 32 teachers were placed on a callback list and could be hired by the start of the 2012-13 academic year, depending on how enrollment projections and budget numbers shake out.

Even those teachers from Ypsilanti and Willow Run who were offered positions in the consolidated district had mixed emotions. And if one thing was clear as teachers left their buildings Friday: there was no cause for celebration.

One teacher sat quietly in her car in the staff parking lot behind Ypsilanti High School waiting for a colleague. She said the school day itself was "fabulous" and that she loves her students. She was smiling, but her voice was heavy and laced with emotion.

Teachers throughout the school echoed these sentiments, saying they felt truly adored and supported by their parents and students on Friday, despite the looming envelope they faced at the end of the day.

Past Ypsilanti High School graduates visited the school Friday to say hello and to give hugs to their former teachers, wishing them luck, several staff members recounted.

Ypsilanti foreign language teachers Barbara Martin, Spanish, and Frances Heires, French, found solace in the grass under the trees behind the high school.

The teachers sat cross-legged, quietly reflecting on what they described as an overwhelming, but relieving day. They both had received commitments for the next school year, but they almost didn't open their letters.

"We contemplated waiting until June," Martin said. "You know, we just wanted to keep as calm as possible for our students ... and had it been a 'no' it would have been a hard thing ... I didn't want it to change how I was with my kids."

When the two teachers went down to the office to pick up their letters, they said some teachers grabbed theirs and immediately left, while other staff members opened their notices in the middle of the room, with people looking on.

Heires, a 4-year Ypsilanti teacher, said she had students waiting outside her classroom Friday after school to find out if she was "in or out" for next year.

Both language teachers said the most difficult part about the process was having such little time with the interviewing/selection committee, the committee's "poker faces" and not knowing what was expected of teachers. Martin described it as a "weird" and "mysterious" process.

"We understood it had to happen quickly (the interviewing) ... but so many people felt like 'my career is hinging on these 30 minutes,'" Martin said. "I didn't have a sense that they (the selection team) knew how to judge us as teachers in that amount of time... And after that — it was so quick, with so much built up around it — we were left hanging."

She said she was grateful school officials let teachers know as soon as possible in May because the waiting was stressful.

Martin and Heires said the next step will be trying to determine how to tell their students and how to handle colleague responses.

They said they both were often told by parents and students that they were good teachers and were well liked. But in going through the interview process, Martin, who has been with the district 8 years, said she still would not have been surprised if she had received a "no."

"It's all a numbers game," she said, explaining if half the students decided not to come back to the new district next year, that impacts teacher decisions, as does teacher certifications. She said the district can have only so many of one type of teacher.

Because it was determined one of the three small learning communities at the consolidated high school would be a New Tech program, it was assumed New Tech trained and certified teachers would be a hot commodity. But that was not the case for one Willow Run math teacher, Jessica Krueger.


Many teachers from Willow Run High School are not happy with how the rehiring process for teachers went and feel like the whole consolidation has been an Ypsilanti "takeover." file photo

Krueger is a recent graduate from Michigan State University, so this is her first year as a teacher. But she has made a big impact in a short amount of time.

Her colleagues describe her as one of the best teachers at Willow Run High School and a favorite among staff and students alike. She also has been nationally recognized for her expertise in the New Tech model.

She was invited by the New Tech Network, the nonprofit organization behind the project-based learning program, to help develop a curriculum and projects for math as part of the organization's STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) initiative. Krueger also was asked to present at this year's New Tech Network Annual Conference.

Krueger said when she opened her letter Friday and learned she would not be offered a position in the Ypsilanti Community Schools district, nor would she be placed on the callback list, she was shocked and devastated.

"Everyone had been telling me all week not to worry that I was good and I was cheap (being only right out of college)," she said, her eyes welling with tears. "Then to get a 'no' ... all I could think is: what did I do wrong?"

Almost all of Willow Run's high school teachers went to Principal Kelly Pennington's office together to collect their letters and to open them at the same time Friday after school, staff said. The teachers then spent nearly an hour in the office consoling each other and talking about their letters and what the news could mean for children in the district.

The teachers then moved to Sticks downtown Ypsilanti, where their conversations continued.

Many teachers expressed they believe the new district will lose a great deal of Willow Run families and students with some of the rehiring decisions that were made. High school teacher Blake Nordman said to many people in the smaller district, the entire merger feels like a "takeover."

Forty-three Willow Run teachers were offered positions in the new district, compared to 126 teachers from Ypsilanti. However, in total, Willow Run had about 90 fewer teachers apply for a spot than Ypsilanti did.

The 43 "yes" teachers from Willow Run equates to about 59 percent of the 73 applicants receiving jobs. Ypsilanti had about 69 percent of its 183 teachers who applied receive commitments and it had about 20 percent receive maybes. About 24 percent of Willow Run's applicants received maybes.

As teachers sat at Sticks in Ypsilanti reflecting on the day and the hiring process, many became angry and incredulous, asking how the new district's bar could have been set so high to exclude quality and committed teachers like Krueger and special education teacher Rachel Jenneman.

The teachers also demanded to see a breakdown of how many YHS teachers were guaranteed positions verses WRHS teachers, as well as a comparison of the middle and elementary school teachers who will be hired from both districts. This information was not immediately available Friday night.

Jenneman was another teacher who received a "no" notification on Friday, yet was praised by her peers as a phenomenal educator. One teacher, who asked not to be named, said even though he received a commitment from the new district, he will not be coming back if he can help it, knowing how teachers like Jenneman and Krueger were devalued.

Ypsilanti Community Schools and Washtenaw Intermediate School District Superintendent Scott Menzel said Friday during a press conference on the teacher selection process, that there may be a need to post externally for additional special education teachers for the consolidated district because not enough internal special education candidates met the high quality criteria that the new district outlined.


Superintendent Scott Menzel speaks at a press conference Friday afternoon in Ypsilanti Public Schools about the teacher notification process.

Daniel Brenner |

He said for any position that is posted externally, internal candidates who received a "no" initially are welcome and encouraged to apply for those jobs as they come up.

Jenneman said she was still too shocked to process the news Friday evening. She said all she could think about was having 10 IEPs (individualized education plans) for her students due in a little less than two weeks.

"I was already going to need to kill myself to do them. Now I feel like I need to do them extra well," she said. "These kids need good IEPs with having a new (teacher) coming in so that (he or she) can know them and know how to provide them an education that addresses their needs."

Menzel said prior to Friday's press conference, the most important perspective for teachers to keep in mind right now, despite it being difficult, is that if Ypsilanti and Willow Run had not consolidated, one or both school districts could have faced a state emergency financial manager.

He said if a state financial manager had been assigned to either district, there is no telling what might have happened to the districts' schools and teachers.

Consolidation allows for local decision-making and local control. He added advisory groups of educators, community and business partners, parents and students have been active throughout the merger in shaping the new district, and helped to identify the specific characteristics of an effective teacher that were used in the candidate selection process.

Menzel also acknowledged the seriousness of Friday's notifications in a statement.

"This has been a difficult process, and I recognize the impact this has had on the teachers, their families and ultimately the community," he said. "Unifying two districts meant there would be streamlining and a reduction in the work force. We knew there would be displaced teachers.

"It would be a mistake to assume that just because someone was not offered a position in the new district that they are not a good teacher. And we certainly want to assist those who were not selected in making the next steps in their careers."

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


Cal Pepper

Wed, May 8, 2013 : 12:05 p.m.

The bottom line with both of these school districts merging is that 1. Both schools aren't achieving the academic outcomes that they should, so they unfortunately must merge 2. Due to financial constraints due the the defunding of our public schools by state law makers and money now going to private interest (charter schools) 3. A total failure of school administrators and state law makers in finding solutions to this crisis has caused this entire mess. Maybe we should look at this situation as a possible way to re-make our public schools into 21st century learning models v. the current 19th century school system which both Ypsilanti & Willow Run schools have become. At the end of the day it's failing our students, our parents, and our community overall.


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 11:57 a.m.

Ypsilanti Community: Calm down, caaaallllmmmm dowwwnnn. Trust the process, grieve the losses, trust the people placed in charge. These are not emergency managers. Much as people assume otherwise, there are likely no incompetent administrators or axe-grinding boardmembers taking pleasure in the pruning and crafting of a new army. Very few 'mean' types find their way into education. These people are charged with creating a process that is inherently tragic and must be crafted for the benefit of the students. No, they probably DON'T sleep as well as the complainers above. Taking pot shots and attempting to shame the board and the administrators is just background noise. They signed up for that. But they don't deserve it. And just because you like a teacher who's off the list doesn't mean the system is flawed. You can't know more than a fraction of the teachers and you have almost NONE of the data on the other teachers. So either trust the people charged with the unpleasant task, or go get your PhD in education and "fix" this.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 2:28 a.m.

The more I learn about the win/lose scenario, the bigger skunk I smell. Excellent teachers were let go in both districts, while incompetents were retained, some who couldn't teach their way out of a paper bag - & can't/don't use proper English. Though painful & politically incorrect, we should see a racial/ethnic breakdown on the winners/losers. We also should know about the special ed teachers at Forest. Last, we deserve to know the criteria for principals, superintendents, & board members. If our students really deserve the best, we need to have facts, & administrators need to be transparent. Anything less is just hypocrisy. Enough already!

Dan r OBryan

Mon, May 6, 2013 : 1:46 a.m.

update ,willow run protest is being moved to 5/13/13 .330 pm at the willow run middle school sign at the north end .we support our teachers and students that have been misled through this whole process .


Sun, May 5, 2013 : 2:49 p.m.

Is it true that Lamanzer Williams has been picked as the new athletic director for the new district? If this is true I cannot believe that the the district made this decision. Every body knows that Mr. Seidl should be in that spot. What is going on here! Please help me understand what is going on! Please!


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 5:59 p.m.

Horrible! Such obvious mistakes that it is almost laughable if it weren't affecting children!


Sun, May 5, 2013 : 6:35 p.m.

Oh yes it is true! Menzel turned down Siedl probably the best AD either school has had in a long time and hired a football player. Maybe he got confused, maybe he thought he was supposed to hire some one to play sports for us, instead of run the sports programs. Bad move but there were alot of bad moves last week. Very sad!


Sun, May 5, 2013 : 5:13 p.m.

I'm hearing the same thing. Was it Lamanzer or his brother who got fired from Willow RUn a few years ago while coaching football. Someone can threaten a administrator, be fired, and then end up being the AD, that's not good. I think he's also got fired from Inkster and Kalamazoo Central. Makes no sense from my view. This mess gets worse and worse every second.


Sun, May 5, 2013 : 12:33 p.m.

This is painful and regrettable but there are some undeniable facts. "We understood it had to happen quickly (the interviewing)" It did have to happen faster than kindness and thoroughness would allow. Whether he handles it poorly or not Menzel is right when he says, Menzel said prior to Friday's press conference, the most important perspective for teachers to keep in mind right now, despite it being difficult, is that if Ypsilanti and Willow Run had not consolidated, one or both school districts could have faced a state emergency financial manager. The two district model couldn't be sustained. Let's support the best of the new district moving forward and build something even better.


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 2:19 a.m.

I appreciate the positive attitude for a change. Unfortunately the hiring process was a sham that resulted in highly qualified teachers getting passed up, and a few very poor teachers getting hired. All teachers in both districts have yearly evaluations that were not looked at, and that are much more informative than an application and a 7 question interview. As staff (in both districts) we are dumbfounded at how obvious mistakes were made. Although many excellent staff were hired, it was almost as if they picked names from a hat. I know of a teacher who had horrible evaluations year after year, worked with him personally and was in awe of his incompetence, yet he was hired. I'm just very sad that we weren't able to use a little common sense in the hiring to retain the best and tell those who are unable to teach to move on. If they are smart, they will re-examine a few of their mistakes. They should at least hear from administrators who question particular candidates- those that should have been hired and those that should not- if they honestly want to have a strong district next year.

Dan r OBryan

Sun, May 5, 2013 : 1:27 p.m.

ypsilanti schools would have gotten EM..YPSILANTI PUBLIC SCHOOLS WAS WORSE OFF .WILLOW RUN ,had cut deficits,closed buildings .willow run was moving forward .So they are keeping the problems that started this mess . This was the worse thing that could have happened to willow run community schools


Sun, May 5, 2013 : 12:49 p.m.

Would have been better off with one EM than 3 bumbling fools.


Sun, May 5, 2013 : 11:50 a.m.

As a tax-payer who will not have a student subjected to this mess next year, I am profoundly grateful for that. I think the teachers have been treated horribly by this process. I think it has been unfortunate that the students in these schools have had to watch this circus play out right in front of them. I agree with the student who yelled "we could have done better than the adults" on Friday. Correct, you could have. Answer me this Ypsi and Willow Run - has this been better than a EFM? and will it have outcomes better than an EFM?? And more importantly, will all this baloney do anything to solve the student achievement failures these schools haven't fixed with cycle after cycle of new thing?? Will this bring the academically stronger families back? (I can tell you this family won't put kids back in Meanwhile, the kids who leave...those that go to better schools. Do you know how incredibly behind they are? Its amazing.

Matthew Burmann

Sun, May 5, 2013 : 10:54 a.m.

People can have issues with process but the fact that 59% of WR AND 69% of YPSI teachers that applied got rehired. What people are missing is the number of teachers that applied from each school. % mean little. The real question is why did so few WR teachers even try.


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 2:08 a.m.

Not sure if this answers your question, but WR is a much smaller district than YPS. I believe that most teachers in both districts applied, but WR had far fewer teachers to begin with because they have fewer students. Percentage is actually the more important number when looking at equity.


Sun, May 5, 2013 : 2:28 a.m.

I don't know how fair the process was, but 6 things I do know: 1) There are now 3 superintendents for a smaller district. Saving $$? How? 2) At least some school board members remain in place. Seems their past mismanagement has gone unnoticed. 3) At least one retained principal has had no classroom teaching experience - has never managed a classroom! Duh? 4) Some teachers appeared unable to use (speak, write, spell) the English language adequately. Hopefully they were not retained. We'll see. 5) Many children in the new district are uniquely challenged & pose real teaching challenges. Until their challenges are reasonably addressed & a realistic educational plan adopted, they will continue to fail to learn. 6) Regardless of the Obama/Duncan focus, STEM is not an "answer" to anything; STEAM generates power!


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 5:54 p.m.

I wonder if the two superintendents were kept to "smooth" over and convince their employees and the community to consolidate?? What other reason would there be to keep both superintendents from each school district in addition to the WISD superintendent? I wonder if they each got a deal where if they supported this consolidation, they were guaranteed jobs until a certain date and then given some sort of buy out or severance package?


Sun, May 5, 2013 : 4:05 p.m.

The School Board was un-elected and appointed. Now there are varying reasons on why this action was advocated as the "current path for the next year" for YCS. Frankly, if you "appoint" instead of elect someone to a position, they are more likely than not to "rubber stamp" a suggestion to keep three highly paid (all over $100K per year) Superintendents. Three Superintendents for a district estimated to be at 3500-3650 students is a ridiculous waste of monetary resources which should be focus directly to the end users -- i.e. Students receiving education in the district.


Sun, May 5, 2013 : 1:58 a.m.

I feel so sorry for the teachers that lost their jobs and feel a huge amount of contempt for the lack of empathy shown by some on this list.


Sun, May 5, 2013 : 3:47 a.m.

And who is showing empathy for those who have to foot the bill and watch the poorly negotiated contracts that have caused this all over the state.............

just watchin

Sat, May 4, 2013 : 11:43 p.m.

Many of these comments are funny. The scuttlebutt around YPS is that this was a WR takeover!


Sat, May 4, 2013 : 8:33 p.m.

As an Ypsi parent of three kids, one in elementary, one in middle and one in high school, I'd like to say that I have NO interest in removing my kids and heading for another school district, or charter-land. My kids excel in school and have liked most of their teachers. I've worked in middle schools in Ann Arbor and Ypsi, and there were challenges in terms of discipline and quality of education in both communities. No school is perfect. I'm committed to public education, and we're going through this change with the district. Having been at two meetings with parents last week, I've met enthusiastic administrators who seem to me to be very caring and excited to bring both communities together. Posting about how awful things will be and saying to pull your kids out might be right for you, but it's not for everyone. In our home, we aren't able to drive kids to school in the morning - we are shift workers and depend on the district buses. If families stay in the district, we can work at making it better instead of just abandoning our community for other city's schools or for profit schools.


Sat, May 4, 2013 : 9:30 p.m.

While I agree in "community", giving my children to a system that has failed them is too big of a risk. One I am not willing to take with my children. And, no, there are no perfect schools, but let's be honest and factual, there are MANY doing better by students, in regards to academics and safety/social culture, than Ypsilanti!Those are simply the facts that can't be ignored.


Sat, May 4, 2013 : 8:24 p.m.

@ apples: They should go! Their superintendent, Lisisicki, sold them out. She needs to be ashamed! Exemplary staff members are not being retained, the ones who did the bidding of Lisisicki and WISD kept their jobs though. The classrooms and buildings will be worse for kids next year. I hope WR families get their kids out as soon as they can. Someone said it best, "you only get one shot at educating your kids". Choose wisely!


Mon, May 6, 2013 : 1:58 a.m.

@williamsfamily: There you go again insinuating that teachers that got hired were somehow "doing the bidding" of some higher authority. Stop the accusations and blaming of the staff, please. The real problem was the stupidity of the hiring process, and whoever thought it was adequate should be getting the blame. Teachers are evaluated yearly, and those evaluations were not looked at. The new district had the opportunity to hire proven educators, but they decided to use a 15 minute observation and 20 minute Q and A session instead. Anyone can fill out an application online, or entertain 3 people and bs their way through an interview. I personally know several teachers in both districts with the highest ratings on yearly evaluations (including high growth on standardized tests) that were NOT hired. At the same time, teachers I have personally worked with through the years who had HORRIBLE yearly evaluations and were on the verge of being let go if big improvements weren't made got yes's or maybe's!!! They couldn't teach their way out of a paper bag, yet the district found they met some "criteria" that excellent teachers like Jenneman didn't meet??? I agree that this is bs, but continue to be offended by the direction of your anger. The WISD hired an outside consultant to run this circus, and he's obviously proven himself incompetent. The superintendents- Menzel, Lisicki, and Martin should also be evaluating their competency at this point.

Basic Bob

Sat, May 4, 2013 : 10:23 p.m.

investigate for yourself. they lawyers were consulted and the superintendents have guaranteed contracts. unlike everyone else.


Sat, May 4, 2013 : 9:32 p.m.

I highly doubt it. There have been so many dirty deeds that stay hidden from the public.


Sat, May 4, 2013 : 9:19 p.m.

Do you know if this will be further investigated?


Sat, May 4, 2013 : 6:21 p.m.

I'm hearing that many families will be leaving the WR area. This will definitely impact the students and staff. If the community had more input maybe they would have stayed. Area charter schools are opening more seats which could mean lower enrollment on the WR side of town.


Sat, May 4, 2013 : 5:58 p.m.

It's just so sad. I love that he says, "We certainly want to assist those who were not selected in making the next steps in their careers." What next steps? There isn't a teaching job within 100 miles of here. These teachers have nowhere to go.


Sun, May 5, 2013 : 1:29 a.m.

Exactly. There are no "next steps" unless they want to sell their houses and move their families to another state like Florida, where teachers are hired over the phone, and the schools are ....well.....let's just say, not that great.


Sat, May 4, 2013 : 4:21 p.m.

As teacherfriend pointed out in the previous related article, Willow Run applicants accounted for 28% of the total applicants. Ypsilanti had 71% of the total applicants. Of those teachers guaranteed a spot in the new district, 25.4% will be from WR and 74.6% will be from YPS. I'm not saying the rehiring procedure was flawless or there aren't other issues in this process to complain about, but I am saying that the "YPS takeover" conspiracy theory is not one of them.


Sat, May 4, 2013 : 5:57 p.m.

Very true, and I was going to bring this up. In my best Rasheed Wallace impression: "NUMBERS DON'T LIE!". Although, those providing stats and adept at analyzing them can create any web of illusion they choose. That's not meant as a dig at or anyone in particular, it's just something I wonder about anytime there are metrics to support a controversial issue.


Sat, May 4, 2013 : 4:07 p.m.

What role did money play in these decisions? Did the "cheaper" teachers get hired over the more senior teachers to save money, regardless of performance?


Sat, May 4, 2013 : 5:54 p.m.

According to one anecdote from the article, it appears not. But I also wonder what the breakdown of stats like this would illuminate.


Sat, May 4, 2013 : 3:58 p.m.

It seems that many people are in agreement that the process used to keep educators in the (NEW SCHOOL SYSTEM ) was biased toward the educators in the former Ypsilanti, Schools System, leaving the Willow Run educators less represented. If in fact these beliefs have merit the Washtenaw County Attorney General ( if there is such a thing) should be asked to review the processes and the hiring methods. This should be done as soon as possible in order to maintain some of the highest quality educators within both districts. If there is any bias towards race, those responsible should be held accountable. Any body out there have any reason to contact the attorney general? Maybe the State of Michigan Attorney General.


Sun, May 5, 2013 : 12:23 a.m.

The numbers seem to indicate a pretty balanced rate of hire/nohire in both districts.


Sat, May 4, 2013 : 4:24 p.m.

The State AG is too busy dealing with REAL problems, like focusing all of his attention on making sure a plant stays illegal (*read with sarcasm*).


Sat, May 4, 2013 : 3:51 p.m.

Some explanation of the role of union contracts would be helpful. Also, what criteria was used? Performance or seniority? Hope there will be a follow-up article with more info.


Sat, May 4, 2013 : 2:45 p.m.

As an Ypsilanti grad, I'd like to chime in. For 12 years, I fought my way through the public school system attempting to get a good education. I was met with "so-called" educators who were either too lazy to do their jobs, or too incompetent to complete tasks with diligence and expertise. More often than not, I encountered teachers who would openly proclaim their hatred for their jobs, the students who went to school in YPSD and the administrators above them. Due to a general lack of want or will to get an education by both the students and teachers involved, I had myself pulled out of YPSD in order to explore other educational opportunities. After my experience in this district, I was overjoyed when I heard of the Ypsi-Willow Run merger, and the hiring process beginning for the joined district. I thought this would finally be a way to find teachers who actually love their jobs, and want the best for their students. After finding out the decisions of the joint committee to hire 69% of the Ypsilanti applicants back, I was appalled. As a product of this district, I can say without a doubt that you have made a gigantic mistake, and will no doubt encounter the same obstacles you have in years past. You brought together two districts who were failing and leaching money from tax payer dollars, and have now created one gigantic leach by bringing these two districts together. Not only have these money hungry administrators made poor decisions in the hiring process, they have created an environment where it's okay. With both schools districts boasting poor graduation rates, I can only foresee this joint district suffering the same fate. Hire external candidates, and find teachers who will actually teach. Otherwise, this district is doomed to fail, just like Willow Run and Ypsilanti both did.


Sun, May 5, 2013 : 5:14 p.m.

#2 - students - especially middle and really especially high school students - have a responsibility for THEIR OWN EDUCATION. I, personally, was not a motivated student in high school. I failed to take advantage of the majority of the great teachers I had access to. And that was solely on me. My mom was involved. She knew my teachers from elementary school on. She communicated with them. She made sure they all had our home number and to call with anything. And they did. But I was the one who chose to not do homework, not study, and just deal with being mediocre. Teachers and their school districts are ONE-THIRD of the pie that it takes to make an educational system work and for students to be successful. The student, their family, and the school. How can you blame the failure ENTIRELY on one piece of the pie when the other 2/3s of that pie lives in the same house? Are there crappy teachers? Yep. Just like in any profession. But to blame the failure of two districts almost entirely on teachers is specious and unjust as well as nothing but rhetoric.


Sun, May 5, 2013 : 5:11 p.m.

iamthesarcasm - you ask who to blame if not the teachers? How about the families of the students who either don't or won't get involved in their students academic life? Teachers have their students for 1/3 of the day. They spend their days fighting what, at times, are home situations that are not conducive to learning and performing at the students' best. Then, they lose them in the summer and spend the first 6 weeks of the new school to get their new students to remember what they learned. I was a YHS grad. Class of 1992. Was YHS a gleaming beacon of education glory? Nope. But there were dedicated teachers who were supported - not beaten down and trod upon - by their administrators. There were teachers who reached out and helped their students - especially those that struggled. I had one teacher in particular who helped me immensely. I am so sorry that you did not have that experience with your teachers. But there a few truths that I have come to learn over my life in regards to education. #1 - the students who have parents that are involved in the educational process by communicating with teachers or supporting learning at home, but are also involved with extra-curricular activities are the students who are the top performers. My brother in law graduated in 2007 with one young woman who received a full ride to Yale and another young woman who received a full ride to the Air Force Academy. (If I recall correctly. One of the branches.)


Sun, May 5, 2013 : 3:54 p.m.

Pseudo, That name says plenty to start and your "comment" is not worth a long-detailed response so I'll be short. The data is openly available in the large number of leaders (corporate, community, governmental, etc) that graduated from YHS and Willow Run High School from alumni classes in the 60's, 70's 80's and 90's. You would be wisely served to gain knowledge of these easily verifiable facts.


Sun, May 5, 2013 : 11:30 a.m.

Oh Ypsi Girl, when was Ypsi a great district??? 1960s 70s? 80s? (I know it was terrible from the mid 70s forward on crime alone and indicator is usually AFTER the academics are pretty much gone). Show some data or quit the denial!


Sat, May 4, 2013 : 6:12 p.m.

And I completely agree with that strategy. However, I attended Ypsi not to long ago, and witness firsthand how teachers inside of the school act now. Students see school there as a joke because no teachers care about what goes on within the confines of the school. It's as if the inmates run the asylum. So yes, blame the administrators at the top, they made poor decisions in hiring the same teachers who didn't work before. I do believe that there are some educators who have been rehired who truly deserved the job, others however, did not.


Sat, May 4, 2013 : 5:56 p.m.

In a Organizational Leadership aspect, blame beings by those in the position at the top, so that would be administration first. Then the administration should make decisions to further train, impose corrective action or terminate instructors who fail at performing to the expectation measures of the school district.


Sat, May 4, 2013 : 5:43 p.m.

In response to YpsiGirl4Ever, you are completely correct in saying that I didn't pay property taxes when I went to high school, however, 3 years later I most certainly do. Making my comments both viable, and true. If we don't blame the teachers, than who do we blame? The administrators? Fine, I am all for that, but you cannot blame them for everything. Teachers have just as much of an impact on this situation, and account for multiple failings within the schools.


Sat, May 4, 2013 : 5 p.m.

Correction -- Former YHS Principal George Beaudette.


Sat, May 4, 2013 : 4:53 p.m.

As another Ypsilanti Grad, I'd like to chime in. The school as we knew it was lost when Superintendent George Beaudette passed. Yet, great teachers (including one near and dear to my heart -- now retired) pressed on despite going despite future administrations not appreciating the job performed day in, day out. Another point, as for "leeching off the taxpayers" comment, no offense "iamthesarcasm" but unless your owned property or rented property while attending former YHS or YPSD they did not "leech" off you, as you didn't pay anything. Minors generally don't pay property taxes or rent. Next, Ypsilanti Public Schools was a once mighty school district that was beaten down by poor administrators lacking the leadership necessary to pull the district back on track. "Flight Syndrome" to districts elsewhere did not help. The late 1990's and early/mid 2000's behavioral issues at the High School started ringing the death knell for this district. Although my children did not attend YPSD at the time (we lived elsewhere), hearing the stories were very concerning. Either way, I'm having an issue with this "teacher blame" aspect going on here. Anytime I hear or read that a teacher is "leeching off of the taxpayers", I wonder the mentally which sounds that ill-informed comment. Teachers perform a PUBLIC SERVICE, educating the next generation of leaders. Let's not forget that, shall we. No "leeching" required. I hope for the best for YCS, but the actions of a un-elected school board and self appointed Superintendent(s) have been concerning to say the least. The kids --- and especially parents opinions in these school districts should hold valued weight since via their tax dollars pay everyone salary but it appears, it did not.


Sat, May 4, 2013 : 3:36 p.m.

While your teachers might care, Dan, your district still boasts an atrocious graduation rate and poor standardized test scores and overall grades. It would be beneficial to both districts to hire externally and find teachers who can give the best education possible. Otherwise, it's the children that suffer. I understand that people in both communities involved have teachers they love, at the end of the day, it comes down to how children can get the best education and chance to succeed. With the current hirings, I'd say those opportunities are poor.

Dan r OBryan

Sat, May 4, 2013 : 3:30 p.m.

willow run was doing much better our teachers care! we could pay our workers it was ypsi drowning we were there life boat and we got thrown over board to save ypsi! now that's the real truth!


Sat, May 4, 2013 : 2:36 p.m.

There is a very revealing quote in there, when Menzel's statement is referenced: "He said if a state financial manager had been assigned to either district, there is no telling what might have happened to the districts' schools and teachers." What we got was what we would have expected from an emergency manager--a rushed process, failure to follow the school board's own policies, insulting short interviews and an inconsistent result. I think it is clear that when the community voted for the consolidation, they expected an awful lot more than they got.


Sat, May 4, 2013 : 2:25 p.m.

Well, this just in, another of our students favorite teachers, New Tech Teacher Advocate, Kelly Winnie, NOT REHIRED. Wow, this truly is looking like an Ypsi takeover. Willow Run High School teachers and kids are getting screwed!


Sat, May 4, 2013 : 5:08 p.m.

Bulldog, great response. Anytime that a Special Education Teacher is not retained by any school district other than with reasons specifically tied to performance, it should raise red flags. The IEP process is not an action that should be performed by those without a keen knowledge on the students' academic performance and observed knowledge basis that prevent the student from performing well. Personally, I believe both school districts got "the short end of the stick" during this "consolidation" process.


Sat, May 4, 2013 : 5:01 p.m.

It's hard not to be angry and emotional , but posts like this feel like an attack on Ypsi teachers. Many highly qualified teachers from Ypsi also got no's, and as a district, we're going through the same disbelief and anger as Willow Run. The whole process feels like an attack on both districts, but anger should be directed at the people who managed the consolidation and hiring process- not the district as a whole. Unfortunately, a lot of great teachers "got screwed," due to the ridiculous hiring process. Huge mistakes were obviously made- Rachel Jenneman being a huge one. However, don't skew the numbers to support an Ypsi takeover because the actual percentages of hires in both districts were pretty close.


Sat, May 4, 2013 : 2:08 p.m.

Welcome to the real world. Rough but the way most that have jobs have to deal with.


Sat, May 4, 2013 : 1:51 p.m.

I am still in shock. Just finding out that Mrs. Jenneman does not have a job but two other special education teachers, at WRHS do, who are not HALF the teacher she is, kept their positions. I am thinking racial discrimination. The same result from the new Athletic Director hire. How can this new district hire Lamanzer Williams for AD/AP when he has no college credentials to support such a hire, no teaching experience at all, and is completely unqualified? Passing on people like John Zajac, Matt Seidl, and Aaron Rose? Are you kidding me? That screams racial discrimination as well! Know this, the high school students that you WANT to retain, the academically sound, the well-behaved, will be leaving for sure now. You will simply have a larger failing high school instead of two smaller failing high schools. And I can only imagine how discipline will be next year! As for Ms. Krueger, I am so sorry the administration made another poor decision but if she is as phenomenal as her colleagues and students say, she is better off leaving the mess after one year and establishing a career in a healthy district. After all, Scott Menzel doesn't have a teaching background, he wouldn't know a good teacher if one walked right up to him! Hang in there staff with "No's". I'm thinking it might be the best thing, and I'm feeling sorry for those who have to return!


Sat, May 4, 2013 : 5:07 p.m.

Great statement I'm sure the truth will hurt someone , so be it. I went to WRHS, long ago I know a good teacher from a bad , I've had both. As for the AD appointment it's a total joke!


Sat, May 4, 2013 : 2:20 p.m.

No, I don't think we need someone who played a minute in the NFL to be our STUDENT ATHLETE supervisor. This is still about STUDENTS first, athletes second. We need someone who can help two schools with poor reputations try to rebuild a product of citizens that will be successful in the classroom first, and on the field/court second. That would be an educational leader like Seidl, Zajac or Rose.


Sat, May 4, 2013 : 1:58 p.m.

You appear to be a bit salty and the comments hinge on the side of misinformation. Do you not think that a former pro athlete cannot help a sports program?


Sat, May 4, 2013 : 1:38 p.m.

Maybe I missed but what was the number of No rehire for each district ? Total numbers not percentage

Danielle Arndt

Sun, May 5, 2013 : 2:53 p.m.

Total number of "no"s was 55 -- 18 from Willow Run and 37 from Ypsilanti.

Dan r OBryan

Sat, May 4, 2013 : 1:21 p.m.

im a member of the willow run community . i feel the whole mess was uneven ,misleading. bad decision .id like willow run community to demonstrate a protest on the willow run high school north side ,by the school sign .. Willow Run bailed out Ypsi . Willow run would have not seen a emergency manager . this community was scared into this mess created . IF you dont support this mess created .stand by the willow run high school sign monday 5/5/13 at 415 PM

Dan r OBryan

Mon, May 6, 2013 : 1:45 a.m.

update ,willow run protest is being moved to 5/13/13 .330 pm at the willow run middle school sign at the north end .we support our teachers and students that have been misled through this whole process .


Sun, May 5, 2013 : 12:35 p.m.

5/5/13 is Sunday. Are you meeting on Sunday or Monday?


Sat, May 4, 2013 : 1:10 p.m.

Welcome to the real world. Ford and GM workers deal with this process every year, and yes, it is tough. But. I don't see articles or employees crying about it. Public employees sure are becoming more difficult to appreciate when they act like they should be immune to the same challenges the private sector faces. Perhaps if you bought only Ford or GM cars, Michigan wouldn't be feeling such a squeeze. All parts of the economy are connected. Maybe if someone actually taught that, we would have a need for a plant in willow run, and perhaps the school district would have survived. That is the real problem these days.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 2:10 a.m.

My auto company partner tells me that most often employees who underperformed were let go. This does not appear to be the case with the Ypsi & WR teachers.


Sun, May 5, 2013 : 11:17 a.m.

Belboz seems to think that the way Ford and GM treat plant workers is they way teachers should be treated. No, I want my kids inspired, taught, educated. I demand (and have paid for) my kids to have teachers that see them as individuals and not car parts. I expect education not just having "3rd grade history" injection molded into place. That lousy attitude is why Michigan, indeed Ypsilani are in such miserable shape. No more plant fodder! Those jobs will never pay and will never be a career again.


Sun, May 5, 2013 : 6:39 a.m.

BELBOZ, I agree with much of what you said. Problem with this economic fix is, it isn't over yet. School districts depend on the local tax base, population growth (children) and that means businesses creating jobs. That means good paying jobs. Jobs that have growth potential for workers, upward mobility for workers to better afford to raise a family. I haven't heard much about Job Security in this new Right to Work state lately. Practicing the 'made in Michigan, sold in Michigan, bought in Michigan' consumer loyalty would make a big difference in our local tax base.


Sun, May 5, 2013 : 6:36 a.m.

Like that bumper sticker I saw recently said, "Not out of a job yet? Keep buying foreign". (Products that are not made buy US manufacturers). What we are seeing, is what economist that criticized the Big Three predicted years ago, "Get fuel efficient or watch yourselves lose market share". So, sadly these effects we are seeing and reading about are not just the result of the auto industry recently pulling out of the local economy and the buying habits of consumers. It's our culture of sitting back and watching that bears the blame for this 'shake out' we are seeing and it is going to continue. That is until it hits home and our own job is on the chopping block. This problem did not happen over night and will not be fixed with the process of teachers being laid off for lack of work. Not this semester or any of the semesters next year. That will not solve the problem of public corporations being top heavy and the culture of looking for love in all the wrong places. It's been a perfect storm brewing for a quick fix for years, a political whirlwind howling the sound of prosperity through change. It's a fight for survival of an education system that is broken at the top. Is it fair to the students and teachers? That will be known after the numbers are crunched. You know, those numbers that show how many local graduates go on to graduate from Michigan colleges and then stay and work in Michigan. I would like to see the overall 'drop out' numbers next fall, both students and teachers. I wonder… Did the process used in determining who stays and who goes work as intended? I'm sure it did for those that determined what that process was to be. Does it fix the root cause that created the problem? Maybe a kindergartener would think so. Homeowners, brace yourselves. Can you spell or smell mill age? The cool thing is we get to vote again!


Sat, May 4, 2013 : 6:04 p.m.

The Toyota Camry was the top American manufactured car in 2010. In 2011 80% of Camry, Tundra, and Sequoia parts were made in America. Only 60% of a Ford Escape is made in America. Moving production to America is a trend with Asian parts manufacturers. This 'buy Ford & GM' answer seems a bit dated.

Basic Bob

Sat, May 4, 2013 : 5:33 p.m.

Manufacturing returns 1.48 times its value to the community. All those cars built in Tennessee, Alabama, and South Korea improve their local economies at the expense of Michigan residents. If it weren't for the state of Michigan sending a check to WRCS every month, they would be closed already.


Sat, May 4, 2013 : 5:10 p.m.

I agree with you I can see all the posts from the MEA , driving Toyotas


Sat, May 4, 2013 : 4:40 p.m.

I see the truth hurts.


Sat, May 4, 2013 : 3:18 p.m.

I think 'selfishness' would come closest.


Sat, May 4, 2013 : 2:38 p.m.

What word is the opposite of empathy?

tom swift jr.

Sat, May 4, 2013 : 1:07 p.m.

I guess Menzel's definition of "streamlining" means three superintendents. I encourage every parent with the means to do so to start looking for an alternative to enrolling their child in this district.

Sandy Castle

Sat, May 4, 2013 : 3:45 p.m.

Milan is an excellent choice. There are already many Ypsilanti kids there. We pulled our youngest daughter from Ypsi public two years ago and put her at Milan and from there the ECA. It took her awhile to overcome the deficits from being in the Ypsi schools, but I'm pleased to say she is excelling now. The curriculum at Ypsi is miles behind where it's supposed to be, but you don't find that out until they get to college and have to play catch-up. Our older daughter was at Ypsi and then did the ECA. She was a 4.0 student at Ypsi but when the ECA conducted their tests to see where she fell in the curriculum she was farther behind the students from the other local school districts. We had excellent teachers as a whole at George and Erickson and East, but found the teachers at West and at the high school to be hit or miss. Some very good ones and some very poor ones. It says a lot when teachers and admin who live in the district put their kids in neighboring school districts. And don't get me started on the violence, lack of discipline, and cover-ups by the admin so the truth of Ypsi Schools didn't get out. So gad we got out when we did. Good luck to you all as you maneuver through this mess. You only have one chance to get it right with your kids' education.

Dan r OBryan

Sat, May 4, 2013 : 3:32 p.m.

alot of charter schools have openings too


Sat, May 4, 2013 : 2:23 p.m.

Absolutely! Milan is looking like a great schools or choice right now!


Sat, May 4, 2013 : 11:47 a.m.

I assume we are talking about 2013-2014 school year. What does the union contract say about hiring decisions? Was Ms. Krueger denied a job because of terms of the union contract or as implied a bad decision making process?


Sun, May 5, 2013 : 5:19 p.m.

williamsfamily - Krista Boyer, the YEA president got a "maybe".

Dan r OBryan

Sat, May 4, 2013 : 3:33 p.m.

they wouldn't honor teachers contracts but they did superintendents do we really need 3 of them I thought we were trying to save money?

Millicent Little

Sat, May 4, 2013 : 2:28 p.m.

williamsfamily, this is not true. I know of two union representatives that received no's. Just wanted to clarify as this is misinformation.


Sat, May 4, 2013 : 2:22 p.m.

The current union leadership kept got "yes" letters.


Sat, May 4, 2013 : 2:08 p.m.

I find it hard to believe the unions had no influence in the hiring process.


Sat, May 4, 2013 : 12:34 p.m.

The unions that do exist in YPSD and WRCS, and which will dissolve June 30, have no bearing on YCS or its hiring decisions, which currently has no union.


Sat, May 4, 2013 : 11:45 a.m.

I feel for those teachers who lost jobs. Unfortunately, this is what should be expected under school consolidation. What was not expected at all was the sudden rescinding of of Domestic Partner healthcare benefits by the Ann Arbor Board of Education. Still no story on that one.


Sat, May 4, 2013 : 2:46 p.m.

I thought this was a WR/Ypsi story, what does this have to do with the AAPS BOE?


Sat, May 4, 2013 : 2:44 p.m.

@johnnya2 - Thanks for the info. But the state could decide to control/limit/cut the funding that they do give to universities, right? For example recently the state was considering "punishing" the universities that allowed for contract renewals before right-to-work took hold (UofM being one who would have lost money). But it seems that there are many less ways that the state can control universities. What I find fascinating is that before Proposal 2, AA had much more local control in regard to its money. While Proposal 2 allows for poorer districts to have somewhat equal funds, districts like AA have ultimately been hurt since the "hold harmless" clause that used to protect us was abolished. I feel like if we had more local control (like passing that millage that failed in 2009 in Washtenaw County, but not in AA) we would be in less dire straights.


Sat, May 4, 2013 : 1:11 p.m.

@Topher. The Michigan constitution guarantees the Universities autonomy. The goal is to avoid legislators from micro managing the university, or having to shift their mission based on the politics of the day. The U has its own set of elected officials. THEY and only they make all decisions regarding U policy. Unfortunately, the AAPS is not in that same position. They are a 100% state controlled institution. If the state decides tomorrow to give $1 per pupil to the AAPS they can. Rick Snyder could decide the school needs a financial manager and seize control of the school system. He could not under ANY circumstances do that to the UM


Sat, May 4, 2013 : 12:57 p.m.

And by two questions, I really mean three. :)


Sat, May 4, 2013 : 12:56 p.m.

I agree about the Domestic Partner benefits - I have two questions that perhaps others or Danielle can answer/look into: 1. Wasn't this ban made law in Dec. 2011? Why did AA wait until now to implement this? The letter sent to staff stated that they are required by law - is it only now being implemented everywhere in the state? 2. In is unclear where universities fall - it seems that they can still allow domestic partner benefits, while K-12 schools are forced to discriminate. 3. If many Michigan Republicans believe in smaller government and local control, why shouldn't a school district like Ann Arbor be able to offer domestic partner benefits (like U of M is able to do, while still receiving public funds)?

Nick Danger

Sat, May 4, 2013 : 11:45 a.m.

Lets have teachers give Scott Menzel a 20 minute interview and observation and see how he does.The hiring process was incredibly flawed and unjust.I would hope legal action is looked at as a response to this injustice.


Sat, May 4, 2013 : 10:38 a.m.

Thank you so kindly, Ms. Arndt, for responding to my post personally. I truly do appreciate it and hope others do as well. Your reporting methods now clear to me, I am happy to have helped you to share our story with the community at large and am certainly thankful there was a follow-up article. In closing, it is my fervent hope that only positive and exciting educational tales will be streaming from the YCS from here on out and that we can all move forward graciously. Best wishes for your reporting career!

Danielle Arndt

Sat, May 4, 2013 : 12:47 p.m.

Barbara, of course! I'm glad my response was helpful, and thank you again for taking the time to speak with me on what was an emotional and difficult day for everyone. And please continue to let us know about exciting opportunities as they come up at YHS and throughout the district, especially as we approach the end of the school year. I appreciate your time. Take care!