Flint, MI—Flint Schools’ head of academics has tendered her resignation, citing concerns about the Board of Education. Her pending departure follows the recent resignations of three senior staff members at Flint Community Schools (FCS).

Diona Clingman, the executive director of academics at FCS, has handed in her letter of resignation dated May 8, 2023 to the district.

“The environment that is created at the board table has weighed heavily on me as an employee,” Clingman wrote in the letter. “I have tried to overlook the constant arguing, negative emails, and the inability to make decisions to move the district forward. However, it seems to continue to happen causing additional barriers to the day-to-day work that needs to occur.”

Leaving the school district is a tough decision to make for Clingman, who attended kindergarten through 12th grade in the district.

“It’s kinda heart-wrenching,” she told Flint Beat. “I had some amazing experiences being a product of Flint Community Schools. It was exciting to come back.”

Clingman began her role as Flint Schools’ executive director of academics in March 2022, but during her tenure, she’s seen issues come up at the Board time and again, Clingman explained.

“It’s what I’m constantly seeing,” Clingman said. “It’s not healthy. It’s definitely not healthy and I just really hope that those things get resolved.”

Clingman added in her letter that it’s been great working with various stakeholders, including former executive team members, her own academics team, FCS staff and partners as she recognized the accomplishments they’ve achieved together.

“I’ve established a lot of amazing relationships with staff and Mr. Jones’ (FCS Supt. Kevelin Jones) leadership has been amazing,” she said in the interview with Flint Beat.

As for the Board, she wrote in her letter that “I only wish that collaboration, respect, and teamwork was present when it comes to interactions with the school board.”

She further told Flint Beat, “As you watch the meetings, there are constraints, whether there’s personal issues or past issues that continue to haunt the district, as I would say. When people are listening to those board meetings, and we’re in there pretty late sometimes … those things spill over into the work environment and some of those conversation causes wonder and angst amongst the staff members.”

Those constraints, she hopes, can be resolved moving forward.

“In order for any school district, not just Flint, to be successful, there has to be an alignment from the top-down,” Clingman said.

Meanwhile, Board President Michael Clack expressed his worries about the resignation, and more broadly, the preceding resignations among the district’s leadership team.

“I am deeply concerned about Ms. Clingman’s resignation,” Clack said. “I’ve known her since high school just like I’ve known Mr. Jones since high school. This whole thing with the district is very sad and it’s very concerning.” 

Since April, the executive director of finance, executive director of human resources and assistant superintendent have all departed from Flint Schools, and according to a May 3 letter from state and county authorities, the three former senior staff had all voiced concerns about the Board’s involvement with their inability to support students and staff. 

When asked about Clingman’s resignation, Board Vice President Joyce Ellis-McNeal told Flint Beat, “The Board always has to do what the Board was elected to do: move the district forward.” 

Clack said he’ll keep doing what he can to help the district make progress. 

“I got on this Board to try to build the Board back, to build the district back up, and we’ve completely done the opposite of what my plans were,” Clack said. “So I’m just gonna try my best to continue to do the work of the district and the work for the students … and represent the community the best I can. But as you can see, it’s very difficult to do that.”

Clack further called for board members to come together for the betterment of Flint Schools’ students. 

“I really think that we need to practice what we preach when it comes to being respectful and being open and honest,” he said.

Clingman’s resignation is effective May 19 and the district is working with her to ensure a smooth transition, according to Jones.

“We will continue to provide the best possible education for our students in an environment that is safe, stable and productive,” Jones said in an emailed statement. 

Clingman hopes to stay in education as her passion for the field remains, she told Flint Beat. That goes for her love for Flint Schools, too.

“I owe a lot to Flint Community Schools because I wouldn’t be where I am today and [have] the opportunities that I had had I not been educated within Flint Community Schools,” said Clingman, a graduate of Southwestern Classical Academy.

Though in the meantime, she added, “I need to focus on family for a while. I’m gonna focus on what’s gonna be best for me in my next journey.”

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...

3 replies on “Flint Schools executive director of academics resigns”

  1. Recent news coverage showed violent riots in a Flint high school. Backpacks have been banned. Is it just Flint or are there many similar communities across the country with the same issues? The wholesale assault on all public education by the elites, such as the DeVos faction, may be a good place to start when answering this question. How about it, Mr. Chan? I do not expect MLive to be the source for a truthful answer, being nothing more than a mouthpiece for those same entities. But Flint Beat could be. How about it?

  2. Thank you for keeping in the loop. I retired from Flint Schools in 2010 and I am sad to find out about resignations at the top. I do hope Flint Schools will overcome and focus on the education of children. My tenure was positive and I loved teaching science and math. I will keep the district in my prayers.

  3. I went through Civic Park, Emerson Jr HI, the real Flint Northern Hi and GMI. Got my degree BSME. flint schools were great.
    Then the UAW destroyed flint and what has happened to the school system? will it ever be good again?

Comments are closed.