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Posted on Wed, May 29, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

District discredits records showing new Ypsilanti athletic director fired from earlier job

By Kyle Austin

Ypsilanti Community Schools is discrediting a 2011 performance evaluation that rated new athletic director Lamanzer Williams unsatisfactory in his only previous athletic director position at Inkster High School.

Williams was hired in early May to be the first athletic director of Ypsilanti Community Schools, the new district being formed July 1 from the combined Ypsilanti and Willow Run districts. He was the first external hire of the new district following what Washtenaw Intermediate School District superintendent Scott Menzel called a "targeted recruitment for an external search."


Lamanzer Williams

During the hiring process, Menzel said he reviewed an October 2011 performance evaluation found in Williams’ personnel file at Inkster. Both that evaluation and an interim performance evaluation in January 2012 rated Williams unsatisfactory, and he was eventually terminated from his position at Inkster after one year, according to documents.

Menzel said after talking to multiple people at Inkster he discredited the evaluation because it was filled out only two months after his hiring and by an assistant superintendent, Jumanne Sledge, who has subsequently been imprisoned. He also said that Sledge was not Williams’ direct supervisor at Inkster.

“From our perspective, given all the information that we’ve gathered, that information is completely irrelevant,” Menzel said.

Williams is a 1993 Willow Run graduate who went on to become an All-American college football player at Minnesota before playing in the NFL. He has spent the past 13 years working in high school sports in Michigan as a coach and an administrator.

In the year since working at Inkster, Williams worked at Holland High School as its head football coach and academic and behavioral interventionist. Holland principal Justin Jennings said he evaluated Williams once and rated him “highly effective.”

LaToya King, who was hired to be the principal at Inkster High School in February 2012, said she evaluated Williams while she was his direct supervisor and rated him satisfactory.

“Under my direction and under my supervision, Mr. Williams was an exceptional employee,” King said. “Very detailed, very thorough, did everything that he was supposed to do.”

Williams was hired as the athletic director and dean of discipline at Inkster prior to the 2011-12 school year, the only year he worked in the district. Shortly after being hired, Williams said he was asked to also become the school’s football coach and director of security.

A performance review dated October 17, 2011 -- obtained by through a Freedom of Information Act request -- states that Williams failed to make written recommendations for athletic department improvement, hold monthly meetings with subordinates and communicate with superiors.

“There has been much data to suggest that this is a huge challenge for Mr. Williams,” Sledge wrote of communication. “By choice, he routinely opts out of decision making and overall school involvement.”

The report also states that in his role as director of security, Williams had held only one fire drill up to that point, and a result “has placed the entire high school in jeopardy of compliance.”

Williams called the review “bogus,” saying he held required meetings and filed reports that were ignored by his superiors. On each of his evaluations, he wrote: “I do not agree with ratings given.”

He provided copies of those reports to The copies provided to do not appear in Williams’ file and are undated.

Williams’ evaluations were filled out by Sledge, then an assistant superintendent at Inkster who resigned during that school year while facing embezzlement charges from his time as associate superintendent of Pontiac schools. Sledge was sentenced last month to serve a year in federal prison after pleading guilty to defrauding a program receiving federal funding and ordered to pay $336,000 in restitution.

Following his October evaluation, Williams was once again given an unsatisfactory rating at a January 2012 interim evaluation, according to his file. Given an opportunity to submit evidence to the contrary Williams stated, “I do not have any,” according to a letter sent to him. Williams said that quote is inaccurate and that he does have contrary evidence. On the letter, Williams wrote: “I do not agree with the ratings given.”

According to a letter dated March 28, he was informed that he would not be offered a contract for the 2012-13 school year. His "personnel exit audit form" lists his reason for leaving as "terminated."

Williams said that he resigned from Inkster before being terminated, and that his resignation letter was omitted from his personnel file. King said she received Williams’ resignation letter and that multiple Inkster schools employees have filed lawsuits over performance evaluations and the absence of material in personnel files.

According to court documents, former Inkster High School math teacher Albert Gui filed a complaint in December 2012 against the district, Sledge, former principal Roy Harris, former assistant principal Thea Marsh and math department coordinator Shawn Smith.

The suit alleges several improprieties in Gui’s evaluation and claims Gui was terminated due to the evaluation. The case is ongoing.

Williams was hired at YCS after the new district interviewed four internal applicants, including the current athletic directors at Ypsilanti High School and Willow Run High School Jon Zajac and Matt Seidl. Menzel said earlier this month month the salary for the position would be similar to the $83,000 base salary set for assistant principals in the new districts.



Thu, May 30, 2013 : 3:55 a.m.

If Scott Menzel and Lamanzer Williams are stand-up men they would resign effective immediately. This whole ordeal is embarrassing to the new school district and the city of Ypsilanti. But if they are not willing to do what is right the school board should step in and send them packing. It may be time for the board to show the students and parents that they are willing to correct big mistakes like this one (hiring Williams).


Sat, Jun 1, 2013 : 4:48 p.m.

They probably already signed the contract so if they fired Williams before he starts they'd have to pay him anyway. That's just how they roll!


Thu, May 30, 2013 : 10:58 a.m.

The ISD generally has very limited power over local school boards. It is the YCS board's act of contracting with Menzel to be Sup that gives him power. The YCS board has authority as a board controls its Sup. Depending on the terms of the contract, they could terminate his services. If they had the courage.


Thu, May 30, 2013 : 5:24 a.m.

I think Menzel, as a member of the board of the WISD, is still technically above the YCS board, so they have no recourse against him. And Williams is just happy to have a job since he was probably going to get axed after his horrible season in Holland and bad seasons with Kalamazoo and Inkster. He has not won consistently anywhere and has not run a district athletic department for more than one year and was fired/resigned under odd circumstances. Yep, seems like a great hire for the departing Martin.


Thu, May 30, 2013 : 2:46 a.m.

Eager to see who the new AD hires to coach the football and basketball teams? I'm wondering if he is going to be the football coach?


Thu, May 30, 2013 : 5:19 a.m.

After seeing his record as a football coach, I would prefer that he spends some money to hire someone who can actually coach.


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 9:35 p.m.

Great story that says nothing. He got a bad review by someone locked up in prison and everyone else quoted in the article says good things about him. Why am I reading this?


Thu, May 30, 2013 : 2:43 a.m.

Whether his evaluatot was in prison or not, any employer should know to be suspicious of a prior employer of a coach giving rave reviews after a 0 win season That is a deeply hopeful request to "take him off our hands".


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 9:08 p.m.

Too many highly qualified and dedicated teachers were let go. There are several documented errors in the process. The team needs to admit their errors and reinstate these teachers immediately. The hiring process was flawed and the results are not acceptable.


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 8:40 p.m.

This entire situation is becoming surreal. This was such an excellent opportunity to fix a lot of past mistakes, in essence to get close to a do over. And when the school doors open for the 2013-2014 school year, I think the school will be far weaker than the two it replaced. Quality teachers and staff and admins have been run off and replaced by the cheapest possible options...well except for upper level administration where they had planned to pay top dollar to the three headed monster. It's so disheartening that 8-10 people brought the district down before it could even start.

Basic Bob

Thu, May 30, 2013 : 3:15 a.m.

At least they don't have to pay Doris Hope-Jackson any longer. Her contract finally ran out.

Frederick Douglass

Wed, May 29, 2013 : 7:48 p.m.

This section is for the great reporting of Kyle Austin and Danielle Arndt: First, I don't know why negative articles about a new hire is NEWS...NEWS for you, its NOT! I would like to see a article on every hire within Ypsilanti Community Schools from Superintendent to the Cafeteria staff. Don't forget to interview the internal candidates that didn't get the job. Make sure you dig up all new hires job performance reviews, terminations and post them too! Thanks for all you do to tear down a School Community that is "Designed to be different" You both have got to do BETTER! Take your positions as reporters too BUILD or at least report REAL NEWS! This is for the Community of Ypsilanti: We as a community should be celebrating the New Ypsilanti Community Schools! We have earned a Mulligan!!! Most people don't get these opportunities. We get a chance to DO RIGHT BY OUR KIDS! The KIDS are the ones who suffer from ALL the fighting over hires, budgets, resources, school closings, teacher layoffs, etc. Let's come together and help our kids compete in the classroom and the fields. Just maybe we can positively impact graduation rates, attendance, test scores, students seeking higher education and parent/community involvement! Or we can continue to increase dropout, crime and unemployment rates. You decide! Hiring Process: I believe in process. I believe the district followed a hiring process. I am sure the decision makers identified key characteristics, qualifications and skill sets for all positions they are hiring. I highly doubt it was one person making all the decisions. I'm positive these discussions and decisions were made by a diverse group of people seated at the table. Let's evaluate the process four years from now after the first graduating class of Ypsilanti Community High School. In closing: You can choose to be a part of the problem, or a part of the solution! Go Grizzles!


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 9:43 p.m.

I am sure the decision makers.... I highly doubt.... I'm positive So which is it, you know EXACTLY how every thing went or you THINK you know how everything went?


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 8:43 p.m.

"You can choose to be a part of the problem, or a part of the solution!" I think a good deal of people have been trying to be part of the solution and instead are being squashed by the loud voices of those that are the problem, the superintendents, the wisd and ycs boards, etc. No one in Ypsi or the township wants this new district to fail. Even those without kids have a lot riding on the success or failure of this new district, which is what makes it all so sickening that mistake (the board) after mistake (Menzel) after mistake (keeping the two old SI's) after mistake (the teacher selection process) after mistake (hiring Williams) keep happening. The people who run the new district have a been a significant, vocal part of the solution. Too bad their solution is failing the children and tax payers of the district.

Kick the Can

Wed, May 29, 2013 : 8:30 p.m.

Your argument makes no sense, Frederick. How many of Ypsilanti's new hires were fired for a poor performance in the last two years? How many of them went 0-9 as a coach last year? Bad hire period!

Kyle Austin

Wed, May 29, 2013 : 8:13 p.m.

There is no intent to be negative. We came across this background information on the district's first external hire to a key leadership position and believed it was in the public's interest to know.

Sandy Castle

Wed, May 29, 2013 : 8:09 p.m.

LOL, so now they're "Designed to be different". This is after they failed at "Strong from start to finish". And Frederick, you don't have to choose to be part of the problem OR part of the solution. You can choose to leave, which is what many families have chosen for years. You have one opportunity to get your child's education right. Parents don't have time to wait for Ypsilanti to try again to get it right.


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 4:49 p.m.

Menzel's apparent conviction of his own infallability is somewhat shocking. He repeatedly makes decisions that nest in a field of red flags. Maybe it is his faith in his ability to reframe what happened after his decisions fail. Keep believing only the things you want to believe. The rumor coming from WR is that Williams is Don Garrett's cousin. Yes, someone wants him there no matter what.


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 9:44 p.m.

Well that should be an easy rumor for Menzel to disprove, you know, for the sake of a united community and all.

Jamie Hudgins

Wed, May 29, 2013 : 5:01 p.m.

The rumor coming from Willow Run :) I really hope you aren't a YpsiTeacher.


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 4:07 p.m.

Your Ypsilanti tax dollars hard at work again!


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 1:48 p.m.

Why exactly could they not keep one of the current athletic directors. Mr. Zajac and his staff already know the SEC and have a working relationship with all of the athletic directors in the conference. As someone with a professional working relationship with the athletic departments in the SEC I have to admit, I am concerned about this decision.


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 8:45 p.m.

Because this guy was in the NFL, man. Or at least paid by the NFL for a while. I agree, it makes no sense why they would not retain quality AD's and/or coaches when they chose to retain failing administrators.


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 1:38 p.m.

I am really curious as to why Ann was able to retrieve the personnel information for this man via FOIA but not for Ken Magee. It was left a mystery, except to those in the inner circle. In the case of the ex-head of University of Michigan Police, even when he was running the magic shop, all of his personnel information, including why he was on leave was said to be confidential. What's the difference? I am confused.


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 12:47 p.m.

I don't know if Mr Williams is qualified for this position. But I sure as well know Mr Sledge is not qualified to evaluate anyone!


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 12:32 p.m.

So, give him a chance to set the standard. Maybe he's learned a few things about what it takes to get a ball rolling. Compare his reviews with with the outgoing AA school boss and maybe you could find a slight difference.


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 8:53 p.m.

No. In a district with this kinda debt and a need to turn things around ASAP, this is not a "learn on the job" type of position. And "give him a chance to set the standard?" Have you ever worked in a position where you got to set your own standard for success or failure? I would say that a coach who fails to win in almost every single job he has had and who has minimal experience as an AD is not a qualified person for the position just because he had a cup of coffee in the NFL.

Jamie Hudgins

Wed, May 29, 2013 : 12:29 p.m.

Mr. Williams is the man for the job. He was raised in Ypsilanti and is an excellent example of what every student in the district should strive to one day become. He gets positive reviews from everyone in this article but some side with a convicted felon who stole 300k from his students in Pontiac. Mr. Williams is back HOME now and he has the support of his community, alumni and staff. If he needs me I would work "free of charge" to help him make this work and I am not the only one standing in line. It is time to come together and show some support and stop all the negativity. Stop hiding behind blank profiles and fake usernames and step out of the computer den and make a difference along side Mr. Williams. You must care or you wouldn't post a comment right? We need everyone to make this new district work so lets once and for all come together (Ypsilanti/Willow Run) and stop worrying about politics. In the end its all bout the kids and I AM a proud supporter of Mr. Williams as the AD of the NEW Ypsilanti high school. Go Grizzles!!!

Julia Herbst

Fri, May 31, 2013 : 3:37 a.m.

I am also an Alumni, and Im telling you I highly disagree, and Matt Seidl should of been who was selected.


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 8:47 p.m.

They are hiring 6 or 7 coaches, so I am sure he would gladly use you as a free option for one of those jobs. Do you know anything about bowling or cross country?

sad day

Wed, May 29, 2013 : 12:09 p.m.

And here we go again!!!!!!


Wed, May 29, 2013 : noon

Must be nice not to worry about evaluations, why worry when you can still get a job regardless of how you performed, I can just imagine how the internal applicants feel, must make them feel real importnat that they may of excelled over the years to lose out on an external applicant that was less than satisfactory. Sounds like he'll be a top performer in Ypsi?


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 11:36 a.m.

Not a good start==I predict Menzel will be the next to resign because he is not Ypsilanti material==that is, he is not an insider plus he is sharper than most of the other knives in the drawer in the "new" district. Somebody is buddies with Williams and wants him hired regardless. Some things never change. Ypsi as usual. Some of the axed teachers in Willow Run might as well know that staff from Ypsilanti were favored over them from the get go and they did not stand a chance.If the state is going to hand out money when districts reorganize why would they not appoint a neutral third party to handle it? AND once again, where was the school board?? That's another joke. I'll be amazed if this gets printed!

Chase Ingersoll

Wed, May 29, 2013 : 11:21 a.m.

The new district needs effective administration, but it also needs people that by force of personally cause kids to want to show up at school and perform because someone they admire is encouraging them. This is especially critical at a predominately under-class district where a majority of the children are from single parent families, without a fully appropriate and engaged male role model. I suspect that Williams is off the charts on this intangible quality and that the district has plenty of report writers in place that can fill in where he might be less than efficient.

tom swift jr.

Wed, May 29, 2013 : 12:16 p.m.

"I suspect that Williams is off the charts on this intangible quality " Chase, there really isn't any evidence to support this. His evaluations speak of his lack of contact with students at the middle school in Inkster and his record in terms of football in Holland doesn't speak to his being someone that motivated kids to achieve. If you could show me some data to support this, I might tend to agree, but I don't think it is out there.

Basic Bob

Wed, May 29, 2013 : 10:58 a.m.

Consider the source. The deputy superintendent who gave him his review:

tom swift jr.

Wed, May 29, 2013 : 11:05 a.m.

Yep, there's no doubt that the Dep. Superintendent had his own problems, but the evaluations he wrote regarding Williams seemed thoughtful and to the point. Williams lack of compelling response (twice), is telling. I suspect that Williams lacks the abilities to function as an administrator in an effective and literate manner.

tom swift jr.

Wed, May 29, 2013 : 10:32 a.m.

Wow, what a quagmire! Absolutely none of this surprises me. Anyone whose response to a very negative evaluation consists of "I don't agree" as opposed to solid data and facts, probably doesn't have a defense at all. Terminated from Inkster, left Holland after a losing season, was primarily hired as a bouncer/security guard at his past jobs. $83,000 well spent. I guess the thought that runs through my mind is why Menzel (since he stated he had reviewed all of this information prior to making the decision to hire this guy) didn't think "Gee, with a checkered past like this, this might be just another point of contention in what is already a huge mess, perhaps we should pass and look for someone with a solid history." (Nice job with this article Kyle, thanks.)

Kyle Austin

Wed, May 29, 2013 : 6:10 p.m.

Thanks Tom, I appreciate it


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 10:26 a.m.

I give him less than a year before something else happens, and he either gets fired or resigns...


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 8:37 p.m.

Nah, they have too much invested in him. I give him until 2015 when Mezel is gone and then he will be gone. And Martin skirts on off to destroy another school district.