Former Emergency Manager set to lead Flint Schools

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FLINT, MI — A former state emergency manager is set to lead Flint Community Schools as interim superintendent.

The Flint Community Schools Board of Education voted unanimously to appoint Gregory Weatherspoon to lead the district during a Wednesday, March 14, 2018 meeting.

The move comes after the board placed Flint Schools’ top administrators on leave on Marc 13, 2018 including now former Superintendent Bilal Tawwab.

Tawwab announced earlier this year that he did not want to extend his contract with the district and Flint Board President Diana Wright said both the assistant superintendent and general counsel put in resignations from their jobs with the district last week.

“We felt that this was the time to began moving toward the future,” Wright said.

In addition to Bilal, Flint Community Schools’ assistant superintendent Sherri Merriweather and legal Counsel Gwendolyn A. De Jongh were also placed on leave Tuesday.

“The time that decision was made the assistant superintendent and the legal counsel…had already submitted letters of resignation to be in place at the end of the year. So the board felt this was an opportune time to began transition of leadership for the district,” Wright said.

Merriweather was replaced by Durant-Tuuri Mott Elementary School principal Shelly Umphrey during the Wednesday night meeting.

Wright said the district is currently working on a separation agreement for Tawwab who was set to stay with the district through the end of next year. Tawwab was hired in 2015 at the height of the Flint water crisis and had a base salary of more than $165,000. His contract was set to end in 2019. Prior to Flint, he served as assistant superintendent for Detroit Public Schools.

Weatherspoon, who served as an emergency manager in Muskegon Heights and Highland Park schools said he was contacted by Michigan Department of Education officials last week regarding Flint Schools and later contacted by the district.

So far, he said he has heard that there are a number of issues in the district but added that he has yet to walk through the schools to witness them firsthand but said students would be his first priority.

“I’m hearing water being a problem, I’m hearing leadership being a problem, I’m hearing collaboration being a problem… I’m hearing a lot of things but I have to know for myself, then put a fix to it to help my staff and kids along.”

Weatherspoon has worked in education since 1972 when he first entered classrooms as a teacher. Through the years he worked up the ranks and ultimately nabbed a superintendent’s post. His agreement with the district would run through June 30 at the rate of Tawwab’s pay. There would be automatic extension periods of 60 days and the contract could be terminated by either party with a 14-day notice.

Weatherspoon who lives in Lansing will also receive two nights a week for hotel stays at $100 per night and a car allowance.

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