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Flint, MI— Longtime Flint Board of Education Trustee Diana Wright has resigned.
She announced her resignation in a letter to Board President Carol McIntosh Sept. 7.
“After 31 years as an employee of Flint Community Schools, immediately followed by more than 6 years as a Flint Community Schools board member, I am writing to inform you of my decision to resign as a Trustee of Flint Community Schools Board of Education,” she wrote.
In the letter, Wright said she plans to spend more time with her husband and grandchildren and learning to sew.
In an interview with Flint Beat, she said she no longer had a voice after President McIntosh denied her request to discuss a potential $200 million Memorandum of Understanding with the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation at a July 2021 board meeting.
“When I did it according to policy, according to the bylaws, that really made me know that I really don’t have a voice. If we can’t even operate by the bylaws or by policy, what is the point of my being there? Because those are the things that ensure that everybody has a voice. And if those are ignored on a regular basis, then the majority can just run rampant,” Wright said.
Board policy states that board members, “may include items on the agenda upon the concurrence of the Board President,” or that agenda items may be added by a majority vote. At the meeting, Wright did not motion for a vote.
The MOU—a nonbinding agreement between entities — has caused tension amongst board members and administrators since news of the plan surfaced in April 2021.
It details a collaboration between the State of Michigan, the City of Flint, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, and several other organizations. The document describes a multi-tiered plan that would involve building five new school buildings, fighting blight in surrounding neighborhoods, and partnering with local organizations to work with Flint students.
Some board members said they were unaware of the plan and called for more transparency from administration. In June, the board voted to bar Superintendent Anita Steward from speaking with community partners and foundations without the presence of the board president.
“Somebody’s offering us $200 million to improve our infrastructure, and you won’t even let them come to the table to discuss it?” Wright said. “I just can’t be a part of that anymore.”
Since school started Aug. 4, the district has had its share of infrastructure challenges. Some buildings lack air conditioning, and the high heat has forced the district to cancel approximately 10 days of classes.
Wright also cited the behavior of the board as a reason for her resignation.
“It’s just sad that we’re losing kids left and right. And they don’t see that the behavior of the board affects that. They don’t see that there is a direct correlation to how the board functions and enrollment,” she said.
In her letter, Wright said she hopes the current and future board members remain advocates for the children.
“Despite the fact that challenges seem unending, a sincere effort by the remaining and new Board member to develop a strategic plan for growth and stability, will surely provide Flint’s students the quality public education they deserve,” she wrote.
The board will have 30 days from Sept. 7 to fill the vacancy.