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Published: Tuesday, 2/16/2010

Former principal seeks seat on Mason school board

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

ERIE - A former Mason Consolidated middle-school principal whose firing triggered the unsuccessful recall election of four school officials is hoping to win election to the school board.

Thomas McGarry, Jr., filed petitions last week to get on the ballot for the May 4 school board election. Mr. McGarry, Tara Tubbs, and school board Trustee Jacki Clark are running for two four-year offices.

"This is a very close-knit community. If they are willing to see fit to elect me, I will do my best to make us one of the best school districts in the county, if not in the state of Michigan," he said. "I very much enjoyed being part of the school for so many years."

The board voted in February, 2009, to terminate the third-party contract with the employer of Mr. McGarry, who had worked 33 years for the district as a teacher, coach, and administrator.

At the time of his termination, Mr. McGarry had retired from the district on a pension and was employed under contract through an outside firm.

School officials had said the action to break off ties with the firm was taken after Mr. McGarry allegedly made oral threats to Superintendent David Drewyor.

From that termination action sprang the citizens group Save Our Schools, which targeted board members Wynne Phillips, Sandra Dobbs, Kenneth Sieg, and Donald Pearce in a special recall election.

Mr. Pearce, board president, resigned weeks before the recall election, and the other three survived the ouster attempt.

Mr. McGarry and other members of Save Our Schools accused the board members of failing to follow established district policy in their efforts to end the contract with Good Marks for Schools, the firm that employed Mr. McGarry.

Also, Mr. Phillips and Mrs. Dobbs were accused of approving the union contract for secretaries and food service employees without the input of the district business manager or legal counsel.

The citizens group also charged that Mr. Phillips had a conflict of interest in voting on the agreement because his wife, an administrative assistant, was a member of the secretaries and food service union.

Mason Consolidated residents also will elect either Denise Gale or Andrea Princehorn to the final year of the four-year term that was held by Mr. Pearce. Mrs. Clark was appointed to the seat in August.

Mrs. Princehorn is the president of the middle school Parent Teacher Association. One of the four-year seats up for election is held by Mr. Phillips, who is not running for re-election.

As the retired father of three children who attend Mason Consolidated Schools, Mr. McGarry said he would have the time and interest for board responsibilities, which he sees as setting policy and acting on the superintendent's recommendations.

"I very much enjoyed being part of the school for so many years. This is an opportunity for me to give back to the community for all the great years I had at Mason."

Voters also will go to the polls to elect school board members in Bedford Public Schools, Dundee Community Schools, Ida Public Schools, Whiteford Agricultural Schools, and Summerfield Schools.

Shawna Smith, president of Bedford Schools' board, and Timothy Brakel, who is vice president, are running unopposed.

In Ida schools, where voters will decide on two seats, incumbents Mark Mathis and W. Dale Heil will have challenges from Steven Bolster and Janelle Low.

Mr. Mathis, board vice president, has been on the board since June, 1998. He is seeking his fourth term. Mr. Heil, a trustee, is completing his first term.

In Whiteford Agricultural Schools, Christine Bischoff and Michelle Wing will be unopposed in their bids for re-election.

Incumbent Ken Papenhagen, Teresa Marino, and Scott Gizzi are seeking election to two vacancies on the board at Dundee Community Schools.

Summerfield Schools incumbent Renee Larzelere is unopposed.



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