TRAVERSE CITY — The Traverse City Area Public Schools Board of Education has called a special meeting at 3 p.m. today (Oct. 11).
Most district officials have not returned calls for comment seeking more information on the meeting’s subject matter.
The meeting, which according to the agenda is “for the purpose of receiving privileged attorney client communication,” caps off a week in which many district officials have either refused comment or refuted reports that Superintendent Ann Cardon is leaving the district after just 71 days at the post.
TCAPS trustee Erica Moon Mohr said Friday morning she believes the meeting is to work out a separation agreement with Cardon. Trustee Matt Anderson said Friday he doesn’t know what’s going to be discussed in the closed session.
“I don’t know whether it’s regarding a separation agreement or a resignation from her or what,” Anderson said. “I don’t really know. There’s been a lot of twists and turns about that.”
Cardon said Wednesday night that she is dealing with “some personal issues,” but would not confirm or deny if she was leaving the district.
“All I’m going to say is that it’s personal, and I’m just going to leave it at that,” Cardon said. “I don’t have anything negative to say, only that it’s a personal issue.”
Board trustees entered closed session during their meeting Monday night “for the purpose of discussing the complaint brought against a staff member who has requested a closed hearing,” according to the agenda.
Moon Mohr confirmed Friday morning that she authored and sent a letter to trustees outlining what she called “an assault on Ann” that took place during the closed session Monday. The Record-Eagle obtained a copy of that letter Thursday and confirmed its authenticity with Moon Mohr.
Moon Mohr, in her letter cited, a six-page complaint against Cardon she says TCAPS Board President Sue Kelly presented during the closed session.
Moon Mohr’s dispatch to fellow trustees also states that trustee Jane Klegman during the meeting declared Cardon was not right for the district, that Cardon had lied and that Cardon “needed to be let go.” Moon Mohr’s letter also states trustees Pam Forton and Jeff Leonhardt voiced their displeasure with Cardon’s performance.
“What took place on Monday was not the first thing,” Moon Mohr said Friday morning. “This has been a very calculating attempt to do what is being done. This has now been building for over a month. I have watched it. This is Sue Kelly manipulating Jane Klegman, Jeff Leonhardt and Pam Forton into believing this bulls- — that came out.”
In the letter, Moon Mohr also called for the resignations of Kelly and Klegman, stating that their actions toward Cardon have been “outrageous.”
Moon Mohr said she received a call from an attorney Thursday night threatening her with misdemeanor violation of a closed session.
“I don’t care,” Moon Mohr said Friday. “I’m not going to sit back and let this happen. I am not going to allow it.”
Kelly did not respond to calls seeking comment on the letter’s accusations on Friday.
Cardon was the only one of six superintendent candidates asked back for a fit-to-district interview after the original round of interviews earlier this year.
Board trustees were enthusiastic about Cardon coming on board and unanimously approved hiring her 7-0 and gave her a three-year contract.
Anderson said he is not sure where the health of the board’s relationship with Cardon stands at this point, but he did say he was concerned about the situation.
“The superintendent has to have the faith and confidence in the board of education, and the board of education has to have the faith and confidence and trust in the superintendent,” Anderson said. “I’m not sure where this is going. From here, I just have to try and make the best decisions possible for the community and the kids that attend TCAPS.”
Cardon said she was not at liberty to comment what was discussed during the closed session.
Kelly said Thursday she was not aware of discussions happening in the community about Cardon’s possible departure, but replied “no comment” when asked if a separation agreement for Cardon was currently being brokered.
“I’m done with the conversation,” Kelly said. “This is getting into confidential information that I don’t think is necessary.”
The Record-Eagle reached out to Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District Superintendent Nick Ceglarek for comment Thursday. Ceglarek responded through email saying that “TBAISD would not comment on the accusation or situation other than, as a service agency, we will continue to support TCAPS in any way possible as they (manage) this potential change.”
Kelly said Thursday she had not reached out to Ceglarek or the TBAISD regarding Cardon’s employment with the district and was “dumbfounded” and “speechless” by what she was hearing.
“I am just not in a position to talk about this,” Kelly said. “This is way over my head.”
The Traverse City Administrators Association released a statement Friday morning ahead of Cardon’s possible departure that said: “The TCAA is surprised and disappointed to hear about this sudden transition in leadership for our district. We would like to thank Mrs. Ann Cardon for the time and effort she put forth. Her focus and attention to teaching and learning has been positive, inspirational, and appreciated. Disruptions like this have a huge impact on an organization that serves nearly 10,000 students.”
Klegman, Forton, Leonhardt as well as fellow trustee Doris Ellery did not return calls for comment by Friday morning.
The meeting Friday will take place in Conference Room C of the Tompkins Boardman Administration Center. It will not be televised, but the Record-Eagle will livestream the meeting on its Facebook page. Moon Mohr criticized the timing of the meeting, which is scheduled for 3 p.m., saying most teachers, principals and parents won’t be able to attend.
“Who is most important here? It is our children. It is our families. It is our teachers. It is our principals. Those are the most important people,” Moon Mohr said. “What is a board member? Really? We’re not special. We’re not powerful. We are there to make sure the business is carried out in a way that is right for those most important people.”