Flint, MI—Flint Schools’ outgoing assistant superintendent expressed concern over alleged accusations made against her by the Board of Education on the same day she submitted her resignation.
Keiona Murphy, Flint Community Schools assistant superintendent, wrote in an April 24, 2023, memo to Superintendent Kevelin Jones that she has received correspondence from the Board indicating she’s been “insubordinate or negligent” in her role.
In the memo, Murphy disputed those claims and criticized the Board for its actions and unchecked “bullying behavior.”
“These emails indicate that there is no desire to be collaborative, only to falsely condemn, based on misinformation and a lack of understanding,” Murphy wrote in the memo. “It is concerning to me that this bullying behavior has been unaddressed by Board leadership.”
Murphy went on to list five “false accusations” allegedly made against her by the Board.
Those accusations included failure to follow the Board’s direction regarding a field trip; failure to submit information about technology; failure to identify a student for an interview with an actor; ordering backpacks without approval; and refusing to attend the Board’s academic subcommittee.
Murphy disputed all claims in five separate, numbered rebuttals which included dates of correspondence on certain matters and resolution numbers to reference Board approvals for now-disputed decisions.
In her rebuttal regarding the Board’s request for technology information, for instance, Murphy said she had followed up on the inquiry by asking for clarification on April 11.
She noted that she’d sought to understand the process between the Board and the administration to ensure board member’s requests are addressed, and concluded: “To date, that process has not been outlined.”
Board Trustee Melody Relerford told Flint Beat she had requested the superintendent hold Murphy accountable for her “insubordination” prior to the memo being shared with the Board.
“This memo is a result of her actions being in question,” Releford said.
Relerford said her main concerns include her request for information on technology being provided to students, which she also noted remains to be addressed.
Another is the decision to purchase clear backpacks, Relerford explained, which the district had done before the Board ultimately voted down a proposed policy to require those backpacks on Feb. 15.
“I just believe in accountability, but also I believe in helping,” Relerford said. “I believe in teamwork. I’m not one to pounce on anyone. I want to help. I want to learn and I want to listen.”
Murphy did not respond to Flint Beat’s requests for comments by press time, but she wrote in her memo that funds used to purchase backpacks had already been approved by the Board in 2022.
“These are funds used to address the unique needs of At-Risk scholars including addressing school safety concerns,” Murphy wrote. She added that the purchased backpacks have been returned to the vendor.
When asked about Murphy’s outlined concerns, Board Vice President Joyce Ellis-McNeal said, “I don’t know what she’s talking about,” and asked for more specifics.
Board President Michael Clack did not comment on the memo as of press time, and Trustee Terae King Jr., who was vice president until last week, declined to comment.
As for Dylan Luna, the Board’s treasurer, he said he has expressed his worries over certain board members’ treatment of district employees.
“As an individual board member, I both publicly and privately in email have voiced concerns about how individual members treat staff,” Luna said.
He further underscored the Board’s role in helping foster a positive work environment at Flint Schools.
“It’s really important that board members as individuals treat every staff person with respect and dignity, from the classroom teacher … to the central office administrator,” Luna said.
While Superintendent Jones did not comment specifically on Murphy’s memo, he wrote in a statement that “the team of professionals at Flint Community Schools remains committed to providing our scholars with the learning resources they need to thrive academically, socially and emotionally.”
Murphy’s last day with Flint Community Schools is this Friday, May 5.