TRAVERSE CITY — Traverse City Area Public Schools released more communications between Board of Education President Sue Kelly and former Superintendent Ann Cardon leading up to Cardon’s sudden departure from the district.
The messages, which include cell phone texts as well as emails between Kelly and Cardon from Sept. 10-Oct. 10, show some behind-the-scenes work to adjust Associate Superintendent Jame McCall’s contract.
Kelly, McCall and Cardon did not return a phone call for comment as of 6:15 p.m. Friday.
The addendum to McCall’s contract, labeled “Employment Agreement/Revised Proposal” and dated Oct. 6, includes three conditions: that the board of education support a six-month, $30,000 contract with Our Students Matter to help with districtwide installation of the Blueprint, that certain workplace standards be adhered to, and that McCall continues to receive five weeks of vacation.
The TCAPS board held a closed session the following day, Oct. 7, during which a complaint against Cardon was heard. Cardon then approved the adjustments to McCall’s contract Oct. 8 before informing Kelly of her intent to resign as superintendent Oct. 9, according to previous reporting by the Record-Eagle.
The website for Our Students Matter lists Grant Chandler as the president and chief executive officer of the organization. Chandler was a key figure in TCAPS deciding to adopt the Blueprint, which is a strategic system for allocating resources throughout the district, before he was placed on administrative leave during the summer while under investigation by the Michigan Department of Education. He also served as a consultant during TCAPS’ search to replace Paul Soma as superintendent.
Chandler was the executive director of the MDE’s MI Excel program and author of the Blueprint, but he has since left the position. Beth Brophy is the acting executive director of the MI Excel statewide field team.
The Record-Eagle is waiting for a response from the MDE to a Freedom of Information Act request asking for all investigative materials into Chandler. The Record-Eagle previously reported MDE officials conducted a financial review of the Title I Technical Assistance Grant that “questions the propriety of MI Excel expenditures of federal funds to support the Blueprint work in some of the subscription districts.”
Chandler did not reply to a Thursday email requesting an interview. No phone number was listed on the Our Students Matter website.
The website did, however, feature a testimonial from Soma, who said he considers Chandler to be “the pre-eminent educational expert in Michigan” whose work has “resulted in structural change that is having positive and lasting impacts on school districts and the children they serve.”
The second condition of McCall’s agreement says that the superintendent and executive team members will “adhere to board policies, standards of practice, governance team standards, the chain of command, and the Blueprint Communication Drive System.” It also states the work environment will be “collegial, collaborative and professional” and that McCall can terminate the agreement and her employment if those standards are not followed.
Trustee Erica Moon Mohr said in an open letter to Kelly and fellow trustees Jane Klegman, Jeff Leonhardt and Pam Forton the adjustments to McCall’s contract were a deliberate attempt to undermine Cardon. In the letter, Moon Mohr accused Kelly and Forton of meeting with McCall to discuss McCall’s contract, calling the action “insulting to Ann,” “disturbing” and “totally out of line.”
Cardon sent a text message to Kelly on Oct. 10 stating that, with the board’s approval, she was taking time off due to “personal issues.”
She officially tendered her resignation five days later on Oct. 15.