Mt. Morris Township, MI— The Westwood Heights Board of Education voted to put Superintendent Peter Toal on paid, non-disciplinary administrative leave during a closed session on Feb. 26. 

The decision comes amid the district’s investigation into his wife Janette Toal, an English teacher at Academy West, for allegedly making racist and homophobic remarks on social media and on school grounds. 

This is the second investigation this month concerning insensitive comments made by Janette Toal. On Feb.1, Toal posted a politically charged Facebook status that circulated among community members.

“Here is an idea for peace: All the blue states form their own country. All the red states form their own country. Let’s see which is better off in 5 years. Blue states can have Microsoft and Twitter and Facebook and BLM and Antifa and big government. We will have manufacturing and farming and free enterprise and small government. What is your prediction for the outcome?” 

District officials said they will not comment on the current investigation, but Flint Beat received a statement on Feb. 4 from Westwood Heights Board of Education President Jessie Cloman regarding the post. 

“Westwood Heights Schools is aware of complaints that an employee made an insensitive comment on social media. The district investigated the posting and learned that the individual in question did not make the comment while acting in their capacity as an employee and the comments were posted to a personal Facebook page.” 

Cloman also wrote that Janette Toal’s comment did not reflect the board’s commitment to inclusion and diversity. 

“The board does not support the sentiment expressed in the Facebook post, as it could be interpreted as divisive at a time when tensions are high on all sides of the political spectrum. The board is working with the administration to address this situation and move forward. The district will also be providing professional development to all staff to promote understanding and sensitivity to the feelings of others.”

ABC12 later reported that Janette Toal was also being accused of making racist and homophobic remarks.

According to ABC12, Janette Toal called the African holiday “Kwanzaa” a “made-up” holiday, and made remarks about the LGBTQ community, writing, “This whole non-binary stuff is a sickness.”

The vote to put Superintendent Toal on leave passed 7-0. Leslie Key, director of student and family affairs will serve as the interim superintendent. 

Carmen Nesbitt is a journalist with diverse experience in news reporting and feature writing. She wrote for Hour Detroit and SEEN Magazine before joining the Flint Beat news team as an education and public...

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