A grave injustice in our local Plymouth Canton Community Schools (PCCS) Board of Education has been transpiring of late. It seems like a group within the School Board has put upon themselves to disrupt working in cooperation with the Board as a whole. Instead they would rather promote their own self-serving, egotistical and uncooperative agenda. This is all being done while discrediting our competent, honorable and judicious superintendent, Dr. Craig Fiegel. Dianne Gonzalez (Board member) even openly admitting that she did not think he was the proper candidate from the beginning. They have disregarded being open-minded or assisting in his success. Some of them along with certain key administrators set the stage that would allow Fiegel to fail from his onset. Was this done in the best interest of the school district and the children being educated within it? I would say not!

At the School Board meeting on September 28th, 2010, Dianne Gonzalez, John Jackson, Judy Mardigian and Adrienne Davis voted not to extend Dr. Fiegel’s contract past its expiration at the end of this school year. Barry Simescu, Nancy Eggenberger and Steven Sneideman (all School Board officers) voted to renew his contract for one year. Some even voiced that it should be extended even longer. It strikes me odd that Simescu and Eggenberger are two of the three members that sit on the Superintendent’s Evaluation committee, are Board Officers and are of the opinion that Dr. Fiegel has done a job worth extending his contract. Yet this group of four dissenters (Mardigian, Gonzalez, Jackson and Davis) felt Dr. Fiegel did not warrant a contract extension.

To add insult to injury, on November 22, 2010, this same group of unsupportive Board Members (Mardigian, Gonzalez, Jackson and Davis) put forth a motion to relieve Dr. Fiegel of his day-to-day operations duties. Their claim was it would be done so Fiegel could focus on the key elements of his position and be able to have the time to search for another job. Oh, how noble of this group of four insurgents. The disingenuousness of their statement bled through as they spoke it. They had no interest of being supportive or caring. This action only helped facilitate their scheme.

When Board Member Eggenberger wisely asked that the matter be delayed until the entire Board had an opportunity to discuss it as a collective group, she was emphatically dismissed by Jackson, Gonzalez, Mardigian and Davis. The vote was put forth and was carried 4-3, with the same four uncooperative members not supporting Dr. Fiegel.

This vote was followed by these same four members putting forth a motion to install Ken Jacobs (current Deputy Superintendent) as a COO (Chief Operation Officer) that would allow him to take over the duties they just relieved from Dr. Fiegel responsibilities. Board President Sneideman spoke out that this was not necessary, could wait for further review and that Jacobs was not the person for this job which was guised in an effort to bring continuity to the Board and to the District. Besides, Mr. Jacobs has submitted his intentions for retirement at the end of the school year. It is my understanding that once one submits for their retirement with the State, it can not be rescinded.

This action doesn’t appear to be an astute choice as it will cost more money for the district. Searching for yet another Superintendent will cost the tax payers a great deal of money. It also will distract from properly leading the district.

How can these actions be in the best interest of the PCCS District? How can they bring unity to the Board? How can these actions bring teachers, administrators and other district employees together? They can not! It only facilitates further disconnect, animosity and uncooperative actions among the Board Members as well as with the district employees. These defiant actions by Mardigian, Gonzalez, Jackson and Davis have only fueled the discontent in the district. They will lie ‘as a bitter taste’ amongst the other members which could parlay on to other matters before the Board, currently and in the future.

Dr. Fiegel should be reconsidered for a contract extension along with restoring his full duties as Superintendent. The entire Board should discuss their differences in an open and professional way. Let those that have issue with Dr. Fiegel present their case in a cooperative, transparent and open-minded manner. His evaluations have not given reason for not renewing his contract or being relieved of much of his responsibilities. Mardigian, Gonzalez, Jackson and Davis have been extremely less than broadminded in this issue and have not given any effort to assist in the success of Dr. Fiegel. It has been quite the opposite. They have not served the district well as I am sure was their intent when they each ran for School Board.

I encourage everyone to voice their support of Dr. Fiegel to the School Board and the media. Granted, this issue has become larger than Dr. Fiegel, but sound reasoning must be put forth. Hope of unification is still apparent. Open and forthright dialog must transpire so these injustices will be rescinded and hopes of restoring cooperative and collective collaboration will be set forth in our PCCS Board.

Mark Hutchins

Canton, MI

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