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Flint, MI–The Flint Community Schools Board of Education has issued a verbal warning to Superintendent Anita Steward for performance issues, lack of transparency, and a “hostile” administration.
Board members gave the warning during a special board meeting Wednesday evening where they cited specific concerns including failure to address requests to remove trash from school premises, failure to communicate regarding a driver’s training program, and a general hesitancy by administration to provide board members with requested information.
“Mrs. Steward is to work with the board on the direction of the district, thus says her contract in Article Four: ‘The superintendent agrees to faithfully perform those duties assigned by the board and to comply with the directors of the board and board president with respect to those duties. The superintendent agrees to comply with applicable laws and regulations to fulfill all state and federally legal regulatory requirements and to follow the board to carry out the educational programs and policies of the district. During the time of the agreement, the superintendent pledges to use her best efforts to improve the quality of the school district operations and to persistently promote efficiency in all areas of her responsibilities.’ And the verbal warning is because I do not feel that those duties are being met,” Board President Carol McIntosh said.
The resolution passed 4-3. Vice President Vera Perry, Secretary Trustee Diana Wright, and Trustee Adrian Walker voted against issuing the verbal warning.
Steward said the warning “caught her off guard,” noting comments about administration creating a hostile work environment.
“I’m kind of thrown back and surprised that this comment is being used against me on June 16 when I requested a closed session with the board on May 12 to talk about a hostile work environment. Now, a month later, I’m being told that administration is producing a hostile work environment, not to mention a staff member filed a complaint against the board a week ago that has yet to be addressed,” Steward said.
McIntosh said the main issue was a lack of transparency and that it is “difficult” for the board to get information from administrators. She said that when she requests information, she is accused of “threatening” the superintendent.
Steward said that according to board bylaws, administration has 30 days to respond to board requests.
“I’m going to follow the bylaws. I’m going to follow the policies. Unfortunately, your bylaws say, if there’s a request, fill out the form, and yes, we have 30 days to turn things around,” Steward said. “And so if I’m receiving a verbal warning because I’m asking us to follow this, I understand that and there’s nothing else that I can do about it.”
Steward also said that she has sent multiple emails to board members informing them on district operations.
McIntosh said Steward filed a complaint against Treasurer Laura MacIntyre after she inquired about the district’s “astronomical” legal fees.
“And that is our concern. Because we have to be able to approach you guys and ask you for things. And when we do, we’re treated like the enemy, like we’re doing some wrong, everything’s the big secret. You’re supposed to be operating in transparency. We shouldn’t have to be afraid to ask you anything about what’s going on in this district,” McIntosh said.