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Published: Tuesday, 7/12/2011

Blissfield school chief asked to resign

BY BLADE STAFF

BLISSFIELD — Community members gathered Monday to discuss complaints about the performance of Blissfield Community Schools Superintendent Scott Moellenberndt.

The meeting’s organizer, Dan Rupp, a parent of two sons enrolled in the school district and a member of the school booster club, told the crowd of about 120 at a hall at Coach Light Estates, 650 West Adrian St., that the meeting’s purpose was to call for the superintendent’s resignation.

He added he plans to meet with the school board president, Noel Eisenmann, this evening to discuss complaints further.

Mr. Moellenberndt, who did not attend the meeting, did not return phone calls seeking comment.

“I couldn’t have asked for more support,” said Mr. Rupp, who added that he invited only six people. “It was unbelievable.”

Mr. Rupp said he put an ad for the meeting in the local paper after what he said was a majority no-confidence vote by the teachers union this month that recommends Mr. Moellenberndt’s resignation.

Union President Gary Sullivan declined to confirm whether the union had voted. Although such a vote does not carry power toward affecting the superintendent’s position, it is a recommendation to the school board.

Other concerns with the superintendent’s performance focused on a decision last year by the superintendent and the school board to bring in a management firm to handle payroll for some district employees, which saved the district money by reducing or eliminating pensions and health benefits.

Mr. Rupp and several residents claimed at the meeting that Mr. Moellenberndt exploited a loophole in his retirement — amid larger district cuts to teachers and employees — by being rehired under the same management firm to get full pay instead of a portion, as he would if rehired by the district.

Some current and future board members attended the meeting — some of the members’ terms end next week — but Mr. Rupp asked two to leave because of concerns over the meeting’s legality if too many board members were present.

Two current board members who attended, JoDee Friess and Vicki Lombard, said they had never received complaints regarding the superintendent’s performance.

“The community elected me to listen, so I’m here to listen,” said future school board member Dave Brewer, who stayed for the meeting and will be sworn in next week. “I’m only hearing one side right now.”

Other board members declined to comment.



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