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Flint, MI—Flint Community Schools Superintendent Anita Steward has resigned.
Steward announced her resignation in an email to Board President Carol McIntosh on Nov. 12, saying that the decision was not hers.
“Hello Board President. You continue to make it impossible for me to perform my job under my contract,” Steward wrote. “Therefore, I have no other choice but to consider myself constructively discharged and my employment with the school district constructively terminated at your hands, not mine.”
In employment law, constructive discharge means an employee resigns due to an intolerable work environment.
Attorney Cha’Ris Lee, who represents the Flint Board of Education, said Steward’s resignation takes effect immediately.
“Ms. Anita Steward resigned her position as Superintendent of Flint Schools effective today 11/12/2021 after she returned to the district 11/5/2021. Mr. Kevelin Jones, the current Asst. Superintendent will serve as Interim Superintendent until the board makes a decision regarding the vacancy in the Superintendent role,” Lee said in a Nov. 12 statement.
Tensions between the board and Steward have been mounting since Jan. 2021 over concerns by board members that the administration was not being transparent.
Concerns worsened at an April 21 board meeting after news of a potential $340 million Memorandum of Understanding to revitalize Flint Schools surfaced. Board members said details of the plan came as a surprise.
In June, the board issued a verbal warning to Steward for “performance issues,” lack of transparency, and running a “hostile” administration. They also barred her from speaking to community partners without the presence of a designated board member.
After taking Family and Medical Leave in late August, Steward filed a lawsuit in the 7th Judicial Circuit Court on Sept. 8, alleging board members, individually and collectively, prevented her from performing her duties as superintendent by overstepping their authority and “thumbing their noses” at board bylaws.
According to the lawsuit, Steward is seeking at least $100,000 in monetary damages alleging that the board’s “misconduct” and violations of Michigan Legislature caused Steward several injuries, including loss of employment, loss of wages and earning capacity, emotional and mental “anguish,” and “incurrence of actual attorneys’ fees and costs” to enforce her legal rights.
On Nov. 4, the board motioned to dismiss Steward’s lawsuit on the grounds of “improper venue,” saying that filing in the 7th Circuit Court violates an arbitration clause in Steward’s contract. The clause states that disputes must be settled by binding arbitration pursuant to the Michigan Arbitration Act.
It is not clear how Steward’s resignation will affect the ongoing litigation. Lee said the district has “no comment” on the lawsuit. A motion hearing is scheduled for Nov. 15 at 1:30 p.m.
Steward has served as superintendent since June 2020. She was appointed by the board after they voted to fire former Superintendent Derrick Lopez “without cause.”
Once a new superintendent is appointed, Flint Schools will have had eight superintendents over the past 15 years.