Flint, MI—The Flint Community Schools Board of Education has undergone a change in leadership, with Joyce Ellis-McNeal named its new vice president.

During a special Board meeting on Tuesday, April 25, 2023, the Flint Community Schools (FCS) Board voted to remove Terae King Jr. from his position as vice president and placed Ellis-McNeal in the role. 

“I think we need a little more grounded, mature and seasoned person in that seat,” Secretary Claudia Perkins told the Board in making the motion to remove King. 

The motions to both remove King and then elect Ellis-McNeal were passed 4-3 by the Board with Perkins, Ellis-McNeal, Trustee Melody Relerford and Assistant Treasurer/Secretary Laura MacIntyre voting yes. 

Despite his change in title, King said he remains focused on why he wanted to be on the Board in the first place.

“I feel the same as I did when I was elected. I was elected to serve,” he told Flint Beat. “A position does not define service. I’m committed to service, committed to making transformational change for our scholars in this district as I was elected to do. I still have the same energy. I would even say I’m even more fueled now to continue the work I am doing.”

Flint School Board Trustee Terae King Jr. addresses the board during the Flint School Board meeting on Wednesday Feb. 15, 2023 at Accelerated Learning Academy in Flint, Mich. (Jenifer Veloso | Flint Beat)

King, Board President Michael Clack and Treasurer Dylan Luna cast their votes against the motions to remove and replace King. 

“I don’t believe that Vice President King has done anything wrong to deserve being unseated,” Clack said before the vote. “I trust Vice President King. He’s very smart. He’s a young man, very confident. He definitely keeps me grounded.” 

For his part, Luna said King is here to stay as an elected official, regardless of his title on the Board.

“He is going to be here for the next four years, and I’m looking forward to him being here,” Luna said. 

Voters elected King to serve a four-year term on the Board until Dec. 31, 2026, and he is one of five board members who joined the Board after the November 2022 elections. He was part of a slate of candidates including Clack, Luna and Relerford who ran under the same campaign platform.

“Everyone knows that Terae is a stand-up young man with a bright future and that he’s amazing at what he does,” Relerford said during the April 25 meeting. 

But, she said, the Board needed to adjust its direction, and she called removing King as vice president “nothing personal.”

On Ellis-McNeal’s part, she said in an interview that the Board had previously voted to remove herself and MacIntyre from chairing the community relations and human resources committees, respectively.

In regards to the rationale behind her votes on Tuesday, she noted that every board member should be “treated fairly.” 

Flint School Board member Joyce Ellis-McNeal looks up from the agenda during the Flint School Board meeting on Wednesday Feb. 15, 2023 at Accelerated Learning Academy in Flint, Mich. (Jenifer Veloso | Flint Beat)

Following the King/Ellis-McNeal swap, the Board also voted to remove Luna as treasurer, passing the motion, made by Ellis-McNeal, with the same board members voting for or against it as they had for the motions on the vice presidency.

But the Board then rejected the next motion for MacIntyre to fill the treasurer position. 

“I will never support this from what I experienced in Florida,” King told his colleagues.

He later went on to describe an interaction with MacIntyre during a conference Board members attended in Orlando, Fla. earlier this month.

“MacIntyre referred to me as a little boy and a little toddler several times,” he said. “MacIntyre’s tone was demeaning and voice was elevated.” 

Those comments, King added, are disparaging. 

“It has very real consequences for a white person to call a Black man a little boy and little toddler,” King said. “It’s the ultimate sign of disrespect to myself, to those of our city that elected me. It is unacceptable behavior and there was no excuse for such behaviors.” 

While MacIntyre claimed King “was the aggressor” in the incident and said she “did not call him a racial epithet,” she apologized during the board meeting.

“I asked him to stop acting like a little boy. Those were my exact words,” MacIntyre said. “Now, that being said, that was wrong. I am sorry, and at the time, I said I was sorry.”

In an interview, MacIntyre added that she would have done things differently during the incident.

“I would have kept the high ground and walked away and not spoken to him at all, which is how it will have to be from now on,” she said.

After the motion to make MacIntyre treasurer failed, Luna reminded the Board that it should fill the treasurer position right away.

He cited recent resignations among the district’s leadership team and the millions of dollars in COVID relief funding and renovations to be managed among other priorities.

“We have a massive problem here,” he said to the Board.

Ultimately, the Board voted to restore Luna back to his role as treasurer before adjourning its April 25 meeting.

Nicholas is Flint Beat’s public health and education reporter. He joins the team as he graduates from Santa Clara University, Calif. Nicholas has previously reported on dementia and brain health, as...

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