Willow Run school board fires former superintendent Doris Hope-Jackson
Doris Hope-Jackson’s controversial tenure with the Willow Run school district came to end at 6:28 p.m. tonight, following 17 days of due process hearings.
The school board unanimously voted to fire her for misconduct and a material breach of her employment contract. And Hope-Jackson, the former superintendent, has already filed a lawsuit against the district and board President Sheri Washington, alleging wrongful termination.
The pending litigation didn’t seem to faze board members, who approved 20 total charges against Hope-Jackson. They voted that two weren't proven and dropped two more in the course of the hearings.
The bulk of the charges alleged that Hope-Jackson colluded with former student services administrator Laconda Hicks to misappropriate district funds. The charges also listed 22 different occasions the board believes Hope-Jackson acted improperly or unprofessionally.
Hope-Jackson wasn't at the meeting, although she was at the closed-door hearings. She was unable to be reached for comment tonight. Her lawyer has previously said the entire process was rigged to drive Hope-Jackson from the district and that Washington orchestrated the whole process to fire Hope-Jackson.
Washington has denied that, although e-mails between the two show they had a volatile relationship.
Many board members said they believe today's vote goes a long way toward ending Hope-Jackson’s time in the district.
“It means that the district can move forward,” Washington said. “We’ve been distracted through these hearings. This board was concerned that it follow due process. We wanted to make sure that each of these people were treated as individuals during these hearings. I don’t think anyone knew it would take the turns that it did.”
Hope-Jackson was hired in 2007. The thought among board members was that she would help turn the struggling district around.
But that didn’t happen. The district continued to have money woes and continued to struggle academically.
And board relations with Hope-Jackson soured. In the summer of 2009, Hope-Jackson’s staunchest supporters left the board - one retired and one didn’t win reelection. Hope-Jackson critics replaced them.
Later that fall, Hope-Jackson was involved in a car accident and took a leave of absence.
When she came back, board members demoted her to a newly created administrative position, saying she didn’t communicate with them about the time she would be away from the district.
In February, the board placed her and Hicks on paid administrative leave and issued a series of allegations against them.
Hicks was fired earlier this summer after her due process hearings.
It’s estimated Hope-Jackson made around $70,000 while on paid administrative leave.
Her contract called for a base salary of more than $120,000. It would have expired at the end of this school year. It had a clause in that called for the board to pay the entire contract if she was fired for any reason other than a breach of contract or related issues.
David Jesse covers education for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 734-623-2534.
Tue, Sep 21, 2010 : 9:57 a.m.
Excellent news.... dexterreader has got it right... the current interim superintendent is competent and honest.
Wed, Sep 8, 2010 : 1:53 p.m.
Cash is absolutely on point. One of the board members has held the position for over twenty years and still can't get it right. Too much money has been squandered and none to benefit the students. Step aside and let someone else clean up this mess.
Wed, Sep 8, 2010 : 12:32 p.m.
State of Michigan: Please take charge and divide our district up like you did with Sumpter Schools....at every level WR schools are ineffective and seem corrupted. Please stop wasting our money and let the state dissolve the district.
Wed, Sep 8, 2010 : 10:58 a.m.
I am sure that the board will offer the Interim the position. I have heard that she has done wonders with bringing up the teacher morale. I just wonder if the district could recover the $70,000 she received while on administrative leave, considering the reason for her dismissal?
Wed, Sep 8, 2010 : 9:29 a.m.
Willow Run has potential, with great staff and students. I agree it's time for the Board to go also. Is there a reason that the interim is not being offered the job permanently? She seems to be well liked and have her act together. I think she could move the district forward and help to heal the wounds of the past.
Wed, Sep 8, 2010 : 8:55 a.m.
After three years of so many sad events with Hope-Jackson at the helm, now there may be real HOPE for what was once a really great school community. It is so sad that many good teachers and administrators were driven out during those three years. Now WR needs to regroup and consolidate the district into one campus and stop having elementary schools operating half empty, with most kids in split-grade classes, and having buildings competing with each other.
Wed, Sep 8, 2010 : 8:41 a.m.
Willow Run needs too do some book work on there individual Schools! I have one very strong in mind......... Is the Staff taken the Students fun money they raise....
Wed, Sep 8, 2010 : 8:24 a.m.
Willow Run has had a really bad run with a lot of people misappropriating funds from that school. The children have really suffered because of this. I really do hope they can turn things around, although with AYP the way it is now? And parents not being held accountable? Worries me how they can turn things around. Another superintendent bites the dust. Wonder how long before Ypsi goes next.
Tue, Sep 7, 2010 : 10:19 p.m.
"Following 17 days of due process hearings." Due process was followed. This lady had her hearing and evidence was presented. If true she is indeed now the former Superintendent. Such a sad state to have had this distraction in a district that is working to improve one step at a time and this may be the first big one.
Tue, Sep 7, 2010 : 9:35 p.m.
@RonaldDuck: Board President Sheri Washington told me that she is unaware of any current criminal investigation, but did not rule it out in the future.
Tue, Sep 7, 2010 : 9:19 p.m.
Such a shame to see "professionals" act like this. Wouldn't it be nice if people just put in a hard day of honest work?
Tue, Sep 7, 2010 : 8:55 p.m.
ding dong dopey jackson is gone, about time.the board paid her for three years/and we will still end up in court. the board member need replaced too.willow run needs a complete change over. fresh start.a board with the ability to make tough choices quickly.three years down a dead end road.
Tue, Sep 7, 2010 : 8:52 p.m.
"[Her contract...] called for the board to pay the entire contract if she was fired for any reason other than a breach of contract or related issues." Why would any school board include such a clause in their contract? No board should approve a contract which provides extra pay for those let go. If anything, there should be clawback provisions for...such people.
Tue, Sep 7, 2010 : 8:30 p.m.
What are the misappropriated funds? Was this a criminal act? Is the sheriffs office investigating? Can A2.com find out and let us know?
Tue, Sep 7, 2010 : 8:20 p.m.
"The school board unanimously voted to fire her for misconduct...." The unanimous part seems pretty damning to me. All kids deserve competent leadership in their school systems. I hope the adult decision makers don't let them down.