A vote to extend Washington Local Schools Superintendent Susan Hayward’s contract through 2022 failed at a school board meeting once again dominated by community dissent.
Washington Local school board member David Hunter voices his support for a contract extension for school Superintendent Susan Hayward, right, during a Washington Local school board meeting Thursday, January 18, 2018. A motion to extend Superintendent Hayward's contract through 2022 failed as three out of five of the board members abstained.
Patrick Hickey, Lisa Canales, and Mark Hughes abstained from the vote Thursday regarding Ms. Hayward’s contract, blocking the motion. Personnel decisions need at least three affirmative votes, board of education President Tom Ilstrup said.
Ms. Canales said she believed it was “fiscally responsible” for the board to wait to consider extending Ms. Hayward’s contract until the new board members could get to know her better.
“I want to work with her, and I want to evaluate it. I’m not ruling it out,” said Mr. Hughes, a new board member.
Ms. Hayward’s contract expires in 18 months.
About 150 people attended the meeting, many to voice continuing outrage toward and disapproval of Mr. Hickey, the district’s former superintendent who was elected to the board in November.
Mr. Hickey has been banned from district property since an altercation at a basketball game in 2016, and his 2015 separation agreement with the district already had limited his access to campus.
Speaker after speaker urged officials not to lift the bans. Two asked Mr. Hickey to give up his post. Several spoke directly to him, condemning him for accusations that he had inappropriate relationships with students when he worked at a Michigan school district.
“Walk away and let us heal,” Washington Local graduate Kathy Mayfield said.
Mr. Hickey resigned as Washington Local’s superintendent in December, 2015, shortly before the school board could consider a resolution to fire him because of 37 charges compiled by a board-hired law firm. Those charges included allegations he failed to inform the district that he left Addison Community Schools in Addison, Mich., in 1990 after accusations surfaced that he had inappropriate relationships with students.
Former Addison student Kristina Hassenzahl said she played on the girls’ basketball team when Mr. Hickey was coach. She spoke through tears at the Jan. 3 board meeting, and on Thursday she spoke again about what she said were “inappropriate comments” and “grooming” when she was a teen.
“You don’t have power like you did then. I’m not 14. I don’t look up to you,” she said. “You were supposed to be my coach. Someone who protected us, educated us, and a mentor. Instead, you used our community as your own personal playground.”
Mr. Hickey has told The Blade he denied the board's charge that he left Addison Schools because he was accused of having personal relations with students.
“I think in the United States of America everyone has the right to free speech, and so I respect all of their rights to say the things that they said. I won’t be responding to them,” Mr. Hickey said Thursday. “I stand on my record. I stand on my 30 years as an educator and success that I’ve had as an educator.”
Jim Driskill, an Addison school board member and Lenawee County commissioner, told Washington Local officials he would talk to them about what he knew about Mr. Hickey if they would invite him into their executive session.
“I’ve waited 27 years and 74 days to have something happen. And something is going to happen,” he said.
He was not invited into the closed-door session Thursday.
Another former Addison student, Brooke Kelly, told board members she does not believe Mr. Hickey is fit to be a leader in the district.
“I thank Washington Local Schools for being the first ones to call him to the carpet. My school didn’t do it. They didn’t protect us,” she said. “Protect your students, protect your teachers, protect your staff. Please.”
Mr. Ilstrup thanked all who addressed the board “for the courage you had to speak tonight.”
After executive session, board members approved extending the contract of Treasurer Jeff Fouke from Aug. 1, 2019 through July 31, 2022, with Mr. Hickey abstaining.
The meeting took place at Conn-Weissenberger American Legion Post 587 on Alexis Road because Mr. Hickey cannot attend meetings held on campus. Board meetings will continue there at least through March, with the next set for Feb. 20.
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