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Teachers union gives Superintendent vote of no confidence

Supt. Dr. Laura VanDuyn

by Judy Reed

Over three-quarters of the teachers in the teachers union at Cedar Springs Public Schools have voted on record as having no confidence in school Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn.

The Cedar Springs Education Association (CSEA), the teachers union in the district, reported that they took a vote of “no confidence” in Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn last week and that results showed a strong majority of 88 percent of those voting in support of the resolution of no confidence. 

According to Jen Kahler, one of the CSEA leaders, there are approximately 150 members of the teachers union, and 128 voted. There were 112 YES votes agreeing with the resolution, and 16 NO votes.

She explained that meetings were held in each building and an anonymous vote taken. Some building meetings were held on Wednesday, and some on Thursday, due to parent-teacher conferences. “They were able to get an absentee ballot if they weren’t able to attend the meeting,” she said. Those were collected through Monday.

Kahler explained that the ballots were placed in a security envelope and sealed. Then the security envelopes were placed in a large mailing envelope.

The majority of the votes were counted on Sunday at Cedar Springs Middle School by union leaders Jen Kahler, Brett Burns, Dawn Nielsen, Josh Cooper, and Libby Metiva. The remaining absentee ballots were sent to the union secretary and counted with two union representatives present on Monday.

Results were sent via email to the Board of Education and Human Resources at the school Monday evening, March 19. They were then released publicly Tuesday morning.

“We followed the protocol that our MEA representative Michael McGee recommended,” explained Kahler. “He asked that we share the results first with the Board of Education and Human Resources department, then share the results with our members before we made it available to our community. So the process took some time.”

Kahler said that they hope to get a response from the Board or Human Resources. The next step is to address the Board about it at the next meeting on March 26.

The Post has also asked Board President Heidi Reed for a statement on the vote and will update the story when (or if) she releases one.

This vote was taken by teachers union members only. It did not include non-union teachers or support staff. According to Matt Andres, who works in payroll and benefits at Cedar Springs Public Schools, there are 183 teachers on the payroll. That would include any non-union teachers.

This vote of “no confidence” by the teachers union has come on the heels of a petition by community members to get VanDuyn to resign. She was hired in 2014 to replace retiring Superintendent Ron McDermed. Over the last couple of years, staff and community members have spoken out against her during board meetings, calling the atmosphere at the school a hostile work environment, and accusing her of bullying employees. However, three years in a row, the Board of Education has rated her “highly effective” in their evaluations. Her next evaluation is due in December.

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One Response to “Teachers union gives Superintendent vote of no confidence”

  1. Jim King says:

    If the school board isn’t receptive to the desires of the community and of the teachers in the school system, perhaps it is time for a change of faces on the board.

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