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Tag Archive | "Bill Schuette"

Bill Schuette: Treat, don’t punish, causes of opioid addiction


 

In 2015, we lost 963 Michigan residents to car accidents. And we lost 1,981 to overdoses.

Heroin is available in every town in Michigan and can be purchased for less than the price of a few snacks at the gas station.

I’ve sat down with the victims in this crisis. I’ve looked them in the eye and heard their stories. I’ve heard the pain in their voices and recognized their guilty and broken spirits. For many in the grips of this addiction, it’s not even about feeling good anymore, it’s about not feeling bad.

What will it take for us to provide help, and not punishment, for those struggling with addiction? Our children are dying and government isn’t paying enough attention to what really needs to be done.

We need an attack from all angles.

In April, the State of Michigan received $16 million from the Trump administration to combat opioid addiction. Eighty-percent of the funds will go toward treatment, and 20% will go toward preventative measures. I have also asked the Legislature to direct the nearly $1 million from a settlement with a pharmaceutical company I recently negotiated to proven high-quality education and awareness programs about opioid addiction.

These dollars need to go toward:

A multi-faceted public awareness campaign: We can’t stop addiction just through treatment, we need education programs in place from elementary school to high school and in our health care facilities to make sure that there is no question on how damaging opioids are to the human body and mind.

Resources for addicts and families: Michigan has a piecemeal approach that spans across various state departments and doesn’t give those struggling or their families a central place to turn for help and resources. This doesn’t work. The State of Michigan needs a resource for families on how to get help for addiction available 24-7 online and by phone with a toll-free 1-800 number.

Aggressive law enforcement efforts: I announced this week that my new Opioid Trafficking and Interdiction Unit, designed to catch those moving heroin and other opioid-based drugs across our state, is up and running. My team is working with local, state and federal law enforcement to go after both the heroin traffickers and the overprescribing doctors that are flooding our cities and towns with readily available, deadly drugs.

This isn’t about catching those with a single dose of heroin struggling in the grips of addiction, it’s about getting the high-dollar distributor that supplies hundreds of people with a quick and potentially deadly high.

Strong treatment plans: We need to combat opioid addiction with intensive inpatient and outpatient treatment programs that follow regimented and proven techniques to rid a person of addiction.

Sending addicts to jail without a program to help them overcome their addiction doesn’t end the cycle, it makes the pull that much stronger when they leave. Whether it’s the proven results of Narcotics Anonymous, or another recognized program, we need to refocus our efforts to reach those incarcerated to make sure they can re-enter our communities without their addiction and with a plan for the future.

We can’t arrest our way out of this problem. We need to take a hard, but compassionate look at what we are doing to prevent and treat addiction before it can hurt more of us.

Bill Schuette is attorney general of Michigan.

This column originally ran in the Detroit Free Press on June 1, 2017. Reprinted with permission. http://www.freep.com/story/opinion/contributors/2017/06/02/bill-schuette-treat-dont-punish-causes-opioid-addiction/363204001/

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“After the Disaster” consumer alert 


 

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette recognized the start of Severe Weather Awareness Week this week by releasing a new “After the Disaster” consumer alert providing Michigan residents with tips to avoid be scammed after a severe weather event.

“While most business and charities act with the utmost professionalism and ethics, there are some bad apples who chose to take advantage of another’s misfortune,” said Schuette. “I urge residents to look at this consumer alert before severe weather strikes.”

SPOT IT: Post-disaster scams

  • Price Gouging – Basic goods and services are top priorities after disaster strikes: the demand for certain services increases and scammers take advantage.
  • Scammers attracted by FEMA payments – Scammers swarm to weather disasters to take advantage of otherwise careful consumers who have FEMA money for repairs and want to act quickly to avoid further problems like mold or rot.
  • Emergency home repairs – Home repair and disaster cleanup scams can be avoided if you know what to look for and take your time before you hire anyone.
  • Government Imposters – Criminals use everything from legitimate government references and threats of government action, to promises of government assistance to trick disaster victims.
  • Sudden business closures – If a business suddenly closes that you have dealings with, act quickly to stop any further charges or any scheduled payments by your bank or card company.
  • Flood-damaged vehicles – Flood-damaged cars can be shipped across the country to a car lot in your neighborhood just days after a flood. Many flood-damaged cars appear for sale on the internet or at car lots far away from the disaster without any mention or obvious signs of the damage.
  • Disaster relief charity scams — Scam artists see disaster tragedies as opportunities to enrich themselves.

STOP IT: How to avoid being scammed

  • Check credentials: Michigan law requires a Residential Builder license for any project costing $600 or more.
  • FEMA inspectors verify damages, but they do not involve themselves in any repair, and they do not “certify” any contractor.
  • Weather disasters and other unpredictable conditions can trigger suddenly higher prices. File a consumer complaint with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division if you suspect price gouging.
  • Don’t put your hard-earned money into a flood-damaged lemon: inspect vehicles closely or take it to an independent mechanic to inspect.

Report Fraud

If you have been the victim of a disaster-related scam, or if you would like to file a general consumer complaint, please contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division:

Consumer Protection Division P.O. Box 30213, Lansing, MI 48909. Phone: 517-373-1140 Fax: 517-241-3771 Toll free: 877-765-8388. Online complaint form: https://secure.ag.state.mi.us/complaints/consumer.aspx

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Year in Review: Cedar Springs Schools adopt OK2Say program


 

By Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs Public Schools district accomplished a lot of good things in 2016, one of them being the adoption of the statewide OK2Say program, a student safety initiative that enables students to confidentially report criminal activities or potential harm directed at students, school employees, and schools. Attorney General Bill Schuette was on hand for the kick off of the program last spring.

Schuette told the students and The Post that it is about changing the culture from “don’t be a snitch” to “it’s ok to communicate to save a life.”

“OK2SAY has made a difference. We are stopping violence in its tracks and making school a safer place for our kids,” said Schuette. “Credit for the program’s success is directly attributable to the thousands of student ‘heroes in the hallway’ who stepped up and took ownership of their roles in keeping their schools and classmates safe.”

Students can confidentially submit tips anytime by using the OK2SAY mobile app, online, email, texting, or by calling trained program technicians. Upon receipt of a tip, specially trained OK2SAY technicians address the immediate need and forward the information to the appropriate responding law enforcement agency or organization. Tips go to schools, local law enforcement agencies, community mental health agencies or the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

The state program, which started in fall 2014, just happened to be inspired by our current Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning, Jo Spry, before she came to Cedar Springs. Schuette honored Spry during the program with a special license plate in a frame that reads “OK2SAY.” Spry did not know that was going to happen.

“It’s truly a passion of mine to make sure students in all of our schools are safe,” said Spry. “OK2SAY is a wonderful program, and I will be eternally grateful to the legislators, community groups and the attorney general that stepped up to see it through.”

School resource officer

In order to beef up security for the 2016-17 school year, the Cedar Springs Public School district partnered with the Kent County Sheriff Department to bring a school resource officer to the school campus. Deputy Tom McCutcheon, who began his career with the KCSD in 1993, was chosen to fill that role. He spent many years as a D.A.R.E (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) Instructor, speaking in many different school districts, including Cedar Springs.

The Post asked him why he wanted the SRO position in Cedar Springs. “I hope to be a positive influence to the young people there,” he explained. “A lot of people think of security, and students feeling safe. But it’s more. I want to be a part of the school. It’s like what being a community policing officer is; you try to be proactive. If there is criminal activity going on, and people look up to you and trust you, you can help reduce a lot of that.”

The position will be jointly funded by the school and the county. The Kent County Sheriff Department offered to fund 30 percent of the program. The outstanding cost to the district would be approximately $76,000, after the Sheriff Department’s contribution. The cost would cover wages and benefits for 40 hours per week for the deputy; all standard issued deputy equipment; a Kent County Sheriff car, fully equipped, fueled and maintained; and all police training and supervision.

Accreditation

Cedar Springs announced in May that they had earned their North Central Accreditation through AdvanceEd, a global leader in providing continuous improvement and accreditation to over 32,000 institutions worldwide.

The district went through a rigorous and detailed review last school year that culminated with an external review team conducting a 3-day on site, after which they awarded the district the distinction of this national accreditation.

“We are thrilled, of course,” said Cedar Springs Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn. “We have such a great district. The process really goes on all year. But this visit is where the rubber meets the road. It’s when they see the things that they’ve heard about all year long.”

“It is so evident that you really care about your students and should be proud of your district, from the top all the way down,” said presenter Vicki DeMao, of AdvanceEd.

The five-person team from AdvanceEd interviewed 120 stakeholders in the district, consisting of the superintendent, board members, administrators, teachers, support staff, parents/community members, and students. They also visited 32 classrooms in all seven buildings and observed students.

The report showed what powerful practices (or strengths) that the district had in various areas, and what ways they could improve.

The school district must go through this process every five years. They were last accredited in 2011, and it was good through June 2016.

Cherry Health Center

If a student gets sick at Cedar Springs Public Schools, they don’t have to wait to be picked up by a parent and then wait for an appointment with the family doctor. Instead, with a parent’s permission, they can be seen right on campus the same day at the newly renovated Cherry Health Center.

The Cherry Health Center, located at Red Hawk Elementary, celebrated their grand reopening on Tuesday, October 18, with a ribbon cutting, speakers, tours and refreshments.

“Cherry Health first opened in 2015 with a limited amount of medical and behavioral health services in a temporarily constructed space at the school, while campaign funds were raised to build out a fully functional health center,” explained Tiffany Aldrich, Director of Communications for Cherry Health. “The ribbon cutting and open house was to share the fully constructed health center with the community, which now also includes dental services.”

Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn said that Cedar Springs Schools serves a population of 48 percent low socio-economic students. “To have this is important. We now have dental, medical, and behavioral health, with DHS right next door.”

Services are provided regardless of ability to pay, but insurance may be billed when possible. Students must have parental consent on file to be treated.

“Any student ages 3-21 can be seen in the health center, regardless of whether or not they attend CSPS,” said Aldrich. “Therefore, if a student attends CSPS, a charter or private school, or is homeschooled, they can come to the health center.” Those younger than three must be a sibling of a student using the health center.

The health center offers on-site Medicaid enrollment assistance, well- child checks, immunizations, same day appointments for acute issues, referrals for more serious illness/injuries, hearing and vision screenings and more.

The health center is open from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information or to make an appointment call (616) 696-3470.

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More officials charged in Flint water crisis investigation


 

Schuette files criminal charges against two former emergency managers, two         ex-Flint employees; investigation now totals 43 criminal charges against 13 defendants

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette filed charges this week against two former State of Michigan Emergency Managers—Darnell Earley and Gerald Ambrose—with multiple 20-year felonies for their failure to protect the citizens of Flint from health hazards caused by contaminated drinking water.

“All too prevalent in this Flint Water Investigation was a priority on balance sheets and finances rather than health and safety of the citizens of Flint,” said Schuette.

Additionally, Schuette announced that Earley and Ambrose, along with ex-City of Flint executives Howard Croft and Daugherty Johnson, also face felony charges of false pretenses and conspiracy to commit false pretenses related to their roles in a process that led to the issuance bonds to pay for a portion of the KWA water project.

Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton, Flint Water Investigation Special Prosecutor Todd Flood, and Chief Investigator Andy Arena joined Schuette in the announcement, the third round of criminal charges brought by Schuette in the Flint Water Investigation. Schuette has also filed a round of civil law suits against water supply engineering firms.

What Went Wrong

The false pretenses and conspiracy to commit false pretense charges against Earley and Amborse are based on the Defendants gaining authorization to borrow millions using the alleged reason of an environmental calamity.

Without the funds from Flint, the Karegnondi Water Authority (KWA) Pipeline would have to be mothballed. However, as a bankrupt city, Flint needed the Michigan Department of Treasury’s approval to get loans.

Emergency Manager Earley’s attempts to get funds in January and February of 2014 were rejected because the City was in receivership, had a $13-million deficit and no credit rating. State law banned the City from accumulating any more debt.

However, the Defendants allegedly used the Home Rule City Act emergency bond clause, created to deal with cases of “fire, flood, or other calamity,” to borrow the tens of millions required to pay for Flint’s portion of the KWA. The clean-up of a troublesome lime sludge lagoon—holding by-products of water treatment—became the vehicle to get a state waiver for the bonds.

To make the situation even worse, tucked inside the 15-page Statement of Purpose for an upgrade of Flint’s Water Treatment Plant system was a one-paragraph requirement that bound the city to use the Flint River as an interim water source, and the Flint Water Treatment Plant as the sanitizing and distribution center.

The Flint Water Treatment Plant, however, was not ready to produce safe, clean water to the citizens of Flint. Regardless, the Defendants mandated the City to use the Flint Water Treatment Plant as part of the deal to get the ability to issue bonds.

Defendants Croft and Johnson allegedly pressured employees of the Flint Water Treatment Plant to get the plant in working order before April of 2014, the scheduled date for re-start. When the deadline closed in, rather than sound the alarm, the defendants allegedly ignored warnings and test results and shut off the pipes pulling clean water from Detroit, and turned on the Flint River valves.

Defendants and Charges

Darnell Earley: Earley, of Lansing, was appointed as Flint’s Emergency Manager by Gov. Rick Snyder, serving from September 2013 until January 2015.  He is charged with the following:

*False Pretenses, Felony: 20 Years and/or $35,000, or 3 times the value of the money or property involved, whichever is greater.

He allegedly participated in a process that allowed the use bonds to fund the construction of the KWA pipeline despite the City’s problem with its high debt level. The City of Flint, with MDEQ approval, used an exception to state law by claiming the bonds were needed to fund an emergency cleanup of a retention pond, when in fact the funds were intended to pay for the KWA. During that time, the defendants actively worked in various fashions to discourage a return to using water produced by the Detroit Water and Sewer Department, require the use of Flint River water through a Flint Water Treatment Plant, that was deemed unready for service by several people involved with its management, and to ensure the construction of the KWA.

*Conspiracy to Commit False Pretenses, Felony: 20 Years and/or $35,000, or 3 times the value of the money or property involved, whichever is greater.

*Misconduct in Office, Felony, 5 Years and/or $10,000.00

He allegedly allowed the Flint Water Treatment Plant to produce water despite knowledge the plant was not ready for use, allowed Flint to enter into a contract requiring use of the Flint Water Treatment Plant during that time, and authorized false and misleading public statements that the water was safe to drink.

*Willful Neglect of Duty in Office, Misdemeanor: 1 Year and/or $1,000.00

He allegedly failed to perform his duty of protecting the public health.

Gerald Ambrose: Ambrose, of Wyoming, Michigan, began working for the City of Flint in January 2012, first as finance director for three emergency managers and then succeeded Earley when he was appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder as emergency manager from January 2015 to April of 2015. He is charged with the following:

*False Pretenses, Felony: 20 Years and/or $35,000, or 3 times the value of the money or property involved, whichever is greater.

He allegedly participated in a process that allowed the use bonds to fund the construction of the KWA pipeline despite the City’s problem with its high debt level. The City of Flint, with MDEQ approval, used an exception to state law by claiming the bonds were needed to fund an emergency cleanup of a retention pond, when in fact the funds were intended to pay for the KWA. During that time, the defendants actively worked in various fashions to discourage a return to using water produced by the Detroit Water and Sewer Department, require the use of Flint River water through a Flint Water Treatment Plant, that was deemed unready for service by several people involved with its management, and to ensure the construction of the KWA.

*Conspiracy to Commit False Pretenses, Felony: 20 Years and/or $35,000, or 3 times the value of the money or property involved, whichever is greater.

*Misconduct in Office, Felony, 5 Years and/or $10,000.00

He allegedly obstructed and hindered a healthcare investigation conducted by the Genesee County Health Department with regard to the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak.

*Willful Neglect of Duty in Office, Misdemeanor: 1 Year and/or $1,000.00

Allegedly failed to perform his duty of protecting the public health.

Howard Croft and Daugherty Johnson: Croft was the City of Flint’s Director of the Department of Public Works from December 2011 to November 17, 2015. Johnson served as the City of Flint’s Utilities Director for the Department of Public Works. They are charged with the following:

*False Pretenses, Felony: 20 Years and/or $35,000, or 3 times the value of the money or property involved, whichever is greater.

Croft and Johnson are alleged to have aided and abetted Defendants Ambrose and Earley in in a process that allowed the use bonds to fund the construction of the KWA pipeline despite the City’s problem with its high debt level. The City of Flint, with MDEQ approval, used an exception to state law by claiming the bonds were needed to fund an emergency cleanup of a retention pond, when in fact the funds were intended to pay for the KWA. During that time, the defendants actively worked in various fashions to discourage a return to using water produced by the Detroit Water and Sewer Department, require the use of Flint River water through a Flint Water Treatment Plant, that was deemed unready for service by several people involved with its management, and to ensure the construction of the KWA.

*Conspiracy to Commit False Pretenses, Felony: 20 Years and/or $35,000, or 3 times the value of the money or property involved, whichever is greater.

13 Defendants in Flint Water Case so Far 

As of today, in total, Schuette has filed 43 criminal charges against 13 current and former state and local officials since the start of the Flint Water Investigation, which has included interviews with approximately 200 witnesses.

The first round of criminal charges from Schuette’s Flint Water Investigation were filed on April 20, 2016 against two Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) employees and one City of Flint employee. Schuette’s second legal action took place on June 22, 2016, when he filed a civil suit against water infrastructure firms Veolia and Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam for their roles in the Flint water poisoning crisis. In July, Schuette filed 18 criminal charges against four current and two former employees from two state departments.

“The crisis in Flint was a casualty of arrogance, disdain and a failure of management.  An absence of accountability. We will proceed to deliver justice and hold those accountable who broke the law,” commented Schuette.

Schuette’s investigation remains ongoing and the charges filed do not preclude additional charges later.  A charge is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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Sean Phillips sentenced in murder of daughter “Baby Kate”


 

Sean Phillips

Sean Phillips

The baby’s father, who was the last one to be seen with the infant, is currently serving prison time after being previously convicted of unlawful imprisonment related to his daughter’s disappearance

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced on December 9 that Sean Phillips, 25, was sentenced to 19 to 45 years time in prison for the second-degree murder of his infant daughter Katherine Phillips, also known as “Baby Kate.”

“Not only was a little girl denied the opportunity to grow up, but her family was forever changed by this man’s actions,” said Schuette. “Those actions can never be undone, but my one hope is that today’s sentencing provides a small amount of peace in knowing that the person responsible is finally facing the consequences of their actions.”

Phillips was sentenced December 9, 2016 before Judge Peter Wadel in 79th District Court Court. He was convicted by a jury of second-degree murder on October 14, 2016, following a two- week trial.

The conviction followed a joint prosecution by the Attorney General’s office and Mason County Prosecutors Office and a multi-jurisdictional investigation by local, state and federal authorities.

“I’d like to thank Mason County Prosecutor Paul Spaniola, Chief Mark Barnett, Sheriff Kim Cole, the Michigan State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for providing their assistance in this trial and prior investigation,” said Schuette.

Case Background

Phillips was the last person to be seen with four-and-a-half-month-old Katherine Phillips on June 29, 2011. After an argument, Phillips took the infant from her mother’s home. For the next two hours he was unreachable and his whereabouts were unknown.

When Phillips resurfaced at his parents’ house, his daughter was gone. The clothes she had been wearing were found in the pocket of the cargo shorts Phillips was wearing, while her empty car seat and diaper bag were found in the trunk of his vehicle.

His actions and statements following this led to a charge of unlawful imprisonment of the infant. Phillips was convicted of unlawful imprisonment in 2012 by Mason County Prosecutor Paul Spaniola, resulting in a 10-15 year prison sentence for Phillips. Since August 2012, Attorney General Schuette’s Appellate Division has represented Mason County in opposing Sean Phillips’ appeal of that conviction.

This evidence along with statements made while Phillips was serving his unlawful imprisonment sentence then led to the current murder charge.

Schuette and Spaniola filed one open murder charge against Phillips, of Scottville, on October 4, 2013, more than two years after Baby Kate went missing. The charge alleged that Sean Phillips murdered his daughter, Katherine ‘Kate’ Phillips on June 29, 2011. By definition, an Open Murder charge allows jurors to determine the level of the defendant’s culpability.

He was found guilty by a jury of second-degree murder in October 2016.

Despite exhaustive efforts by law enforcement over the past five years, Baby Kate has never been found.

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From the Superintendent’s desk


Laura VanDuyn

Laura VanDuyn

Dear CSPS Families:

It’s hard to believe that November is here. We are so engaged in what we do as educators and students that the time flies…and YES, we are having fun! Our first 2 months of school have brought many fantastic opportunities for our students and staff. I’d like to update you on progress we continue to make as a progressive district serving our kids with passion and collaboration.

  • Strategic Planning: We are moving right along and look forward to completion of the process soon. This important process is one that a school district takes on every 3-5 years. It enables the Board of Education to establish the vision (where we are going as a district), mission (why we are here doing what we are doing) and core values (how we go about doing our work). This process involved approximately 125 people in feedback groups. Those groups were established by leaders from our teachers, parents, students, community members, support staff and administrators. The Board of Education is now using all the feedback from the constituent groups and will eventually vote on approving the strategic plan that will have 4 goals: academic, environment, 21st century learning, finance. This process has been inclusive and engaging!
  • Our new math curriculum implementation is going very well and rave reviews are coming in from our teachers, students and parents. Our principals are working with our teachers on tight alignment of the new K-5 curriculum with the 6-12 curriculum. This is exciting work for all of us. We are so proud of the process we put in place over the last 2 years to have our teachers work in collaborative groups to select the curriculum.
  • We are excited to know that our work on Responsive Classroom® (RC) is now being talked about in other districts. I’ve received phone calls and emails to talk about the great benefits of RC and the possibility of other districts looking at training for their schools. We are excited to be the first district to bring this to our region! Please read the article about our outstanding teachers and principals implementing RC in the School News Network: http://www.schoolnewsnetwork.org
  • We are proud that our band students and directors are leading the way after coming in 3rd in two recent state band competitions. Our band will perform at Ford Field on Saturday. Thank you all for helping Cedar Springs lead the way…you make us proud!
  • Hat’s off to our business department staff under the leadership of Rosemary Zink, CPA, MBA and CFO! There has been a lot of work in the business department over the last year. We are elated to know that we are moving forward with transparency in reporting, collaboration and inclusion in budgeting and in systems development. Last November 1st we had to employ the services of a consultant to provide an overview of our business services after concerns were raised by a community member throughout the summer and into the fall of 2015. The great news is we were able to get a comprehensive look at our business practices in order to plan forward. Additionally, we were able to keep our business department going until we were able to hire Ms. Zink. Our business department employees are so dedicated to making sure we all have what we need to do our jobs. We are excited about what is ahead and purposely put a financial goal in the strategic plan to keep a sharp focus on all the advancements that are being made in the business department.
  • Anne Kostus and our terrific team of teachers and counselors at the high school continue to rally around Early Middle College. We are one of few districts offering this opportunity to our high school students. We are proud of being on the leading edge of this statewide initiative. This is so important for giving our students an advantage in college readiness. Hat’s off to all who are making this happen for our amazing students!
  • The OK2Say program has now been implemented at Red Hawk and with our current 7th and 8th graders at the middle school. We were honored last April when our Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and his team thought enough of Cedar Springs Public Schools to spend his day with us kicking off the OK2Say program. That dedication to our district, being a leader in the OK2Say initiative, is humbling. We attribute that to Jo Spry, our Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning, as she brought the program to Michigan. We love being on the cutting edge of such important work to keep our schools safe.
  • It’s clear by looking around our campus that our maintenance and grounds crew are working hard. In fact, we have data to prove that. Mr. Ken Simon, our new Director of Operations, is tracking data on work orders and setting goals for his department. Thus far his hard-working team has reduced work orders in progress to 8%…and the goal was 10%! We thank Mr. Simon and his team for supporting all we do as a district as their work is foundational to providing a wonderful learning atmosphere for our students.
  • We are proud of the staff we’ve had with us for many years and are proud of the new staff joining us for the first time this year. Last school year we created and continue to develop an excellent Human Resources Department. Leading that is Ms. Carrie Duddles who is doing a stellar job for all staff and for the district. To that end, there are processes that have been put in place that structure hiring and provide streamlining with the technology, payroll and other departments. There is misinformation that 50 or more employees resigned from the district since January, 2016. It can be confusing as there are times when people on the resignation list are those who resign from one position, such as interventionist, who actually earned another position, such as a teacher. Therefore, their names will appear as resignations when in fact, they are still employees of the District. Furthermore, retirements such as the 11 we had last spring along with 2 leaves of absence that were granted appear in the same category as resignations/layoffs. To add to that is the fact that there are some employees who earn what is called a “schedule B” assignment/salary for coaching athletics, etc. Those positions are counted on the resignation list when someone decides they won’t be able to coach anymore. Those may be teachers or support staff employed by CSPS who are only resigning their coaching positions, not their full-time positions … or they may be people who do not work in the district but only coach a sport, etc. As you can see, there is a lot that can make a list appear to be something it is not. The lists contain all support, teaching and administrator positions. Simple lists can be misleading without understanding what all is encompassed in them, but we know as we calculate the numbers of actual resignations that we are well within a general range of what can be expected for any district. It’s always important to gather the facts and we encourage all to seek facts prior to establishing concerns. Thankfully, we are putting these important processes in place to track our hiring, seniority, benefits, payroll, etc. These structures are incredibly important to keeping the District on track in budgeting…we are proud of the work we are doing in this area!
  • It is our honor to have with us, Dr. Barbara Johnson, a National Blue Ribbon School principal, principal of a Top 10 school in the state and a Reading Now Network school. Dr. Johnson is working with our new “Leader in Training” at Beach Elementary School. We are so very fortunate to have Mrs. Miranda Latimer (one of our excellent CSPS teachers who earned a leadership position in the district) as our administrator at Beach Elementary. She is getting the benefit of learning from our outstanding principal team as well as from Dr. Barb Johnson. It is to our benefit to have someone who has been a principal recognized in the state and nation for her terrific contributions in education. Please know that the affordability in this comes from a “Leader in Training” salary that is significantly less than a principal in order to afford the mentor, as agreed upon by the Leader in Training upon accepting the position. Dr. Barb Johnson is being talked about all over Michigan…we are THRILLED to be a district benefiting from her services.
  • NEOLA policy work continues as we are nearing the end of the work to add the Administrative Guidelines to the policies that were adopted this summer. This Board of Education and administration have worked long and hard to do a complete policy overhaul to ensure we are on board with the most state-of-the-art policy that is constantly updated and inclusive of any changed or new legislation. It’s so nice to be a district on the forefront of important reform such as policy as it guides what we do as a district.
  • Our School Resource Officer program is serving our students, staff and families so well. We have seen the countless benefits of the program in such a short time and look forward to continuing to develop the program. We are fortunate to bring this program to CSPS and know that it’s making a difference in our school operations and in our student and staff well being. Thank you, Deputy McCutcheon, for all you are doing to make this innovative program a success!

As we enter into the season for recognizing all we have to be thankful for, know that our staff and Board of Education are thankful that you share your most cherished blessings with us. Thank you for partnering with us to be make a positive impact in your child’s life. We, at CSPS, take very seriously what we do as educators to support your child in developing a successful present and future life. To that end, we hold high expectations and a commitment to accountability for ourselves and for our students. We are thankful that we do this together as we know our purpose is the same…seeing your child reach his/her potential.

It is an honor and privilege to serve as your superintendent. Please contact me at any time, should I be able to support you and your child in educational success.

Warmly,

Laura VanDuyn, Ed.D.

CSPS Superintendent of Schools

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Schuette charges six more in Flint water crisis


State attorney general sealIn the third legal action of his Flint Water Investigation, Schuette files 18 criminal charges against six current and former state officials from MDEQ and MDHHS

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced on Friday, July 29, the third legal action of his Flint Water Investigation, filing 18 criminal charges against four current and two former employees from two state departments. The charges are a result of actions taken by officials at the Michigan Departments of Environmental Quality and Health and Human Services that Schuette says contributed to the Flint water-poisoning crisis by withholding vital information from the public about ongoing lead poisoning and allowing the continued distribution of corrosive water from the Flint Water Treatment Plant.

“Some may wish or worry that the story of Flint will be slowly absorbed by other world events or lost in the noise and clatter of the 24-hour news cycle and short attention span of posts and tweets,” remarked Schuette. “Not on our watch.”

Schuette was joined at the announcement by Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton, Flint Water Investigation Special Prosecutor Todd Flood, and Chief Investigator Andy Arena.

A total of nine defendants so far

As of today, Schuette has filed criminal charges against nine current and former state and local officials since the start of the investigation, which has included interviews with nearly 180 witnesses.

In the third legal action of the investigation, today a total of 18 criminal charges (12 felonies and 6 misdemeanors) were filed in Genesee County’s 67th District Court in Flint against six individuals, three from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and three from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).

“The families of Flint will not be forgotten. We will provide the justice they deserve. And in Michigan, the justice system is not rigged,” noted Schuette. “There is one system of justice. The laws apply to everyone, equally, no matter who you are. Period. Providing justice to families of Flint means accountability. Those who committed crimes will be held accountable.”

MDEQ Employee Charges:

The new charges include high-ranking officials at the MDEQ who failed in their duties to ensure the provision of safe drinking water and worked to make sure the Flint Water Treatment Plant stayed up and running regardless of the outcome or warning signs its operation was resulting in water poisoned with lead.

Liane Shekter-Smith: Charges allege that former high-ranking MDEQ official Liane Shekter-Smith, then-Chief of the Office of Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance, held key responsibilities for ensuring the provision of clean, safe drinking water for the citizens of Flint. Despite receiving notice of citizen complaints about water quality and knowledge of a Legionnaires outbreak and issues with lead levels, Shekter-Smith, in her high-ranking position that included supervision of key MDEQ employees, not only allegedly failed to take corrective action or notify public health officials but, in fact took steps to mislead and conceal evidence from health officials in phone calls revealed by the investigation.

Liane Shekter-Smith, former Chief of Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance: 1 count, Misconduct in Office (Felony: 5 years and/or $10,000)

1 count, Willful Neglect of Duty (Misdemeanor: 1 year and/or $1,000)

Adam Rosenthal: Charges allege that current MDEQ employee Adam Rosenthal, who worked in Shekter-Smith’s section, was warned by Flint Water Treatment Plant officials that they were not ready for operations and was later warned by the EPA that high levels of lead is usually due to particulate lead, signaling a corrosion problem. Charges allege that in 2015, Rosenthal willfully participated in the manipulation of lead testing results and falsely reported that the 90th percentile of the results for lead water testing was below the federal action level.  Eventually, a July 28, 2015 report was altered to exclude some high lead tests and Rosenthal forwarded the altered report on. Previously charged MDEQ employees Busch and Prsyby were also allegedly involved.

Adam Rosenthal, Water Quality Analyst
1 count, Misconduct in Office (Felony: 5 years and/or $10,000)

1 count, Willful Neglect of Duty (Misdemeanor: 1 year and/or $1,000)

1 count, Tampering with Evidence (Felony: 4 years and/or $5,000)

1 count, Conspiracy—Tampering with Evidence (Felony: 4 years and/or $10,000)

Patrick Cook: Charges allege that Cook, who is the current MDEQ official responsible for compliance with lead and copper monitoring, signed a permit in 2014 that was the last approval necessary for the use of the Flint Water Treatment Plant. Cook subsequently was aware of problems with the water in Flint but allegedly took no corrective action in his duty to ensure the provision of clean, safe drinking water in Flint. Cook allegedly mislead the EPA regarding the necessity of using corrosion control in Flint after the switch when he allegedly forwarded information he knew to be false to the EPA in response to its inquire.

Patrick Cook, Specialist for Community Drinking Water Unit


1 count, Willful Neglect of Duty (Misdemeanor: 1 year and/or $1,000)

1 count, Misconduct in Office (Felony: 5 years and/or $10,000)

1 count, Conspiracy (Felony: 5 years and/or $10,000)

MDHHS Employee Charges:

New charges allege that these MDHHS defendants discovered that Flint children were being poisoned by lead but suppressed that information, keeping it from reaching doctors and health officials who sought to protect the welfare of the children and citizens of Flint.

Nancy Peeler, Robert Scott and Corinne Miller: In July of 2015, Nancy Peeler, Director of the MDHHS Program for Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting, requested an internal report on blood lead level data in Flint children.  That report, created on July 28, 2015 using sound scientific principles, showed a significant spike— higher than usual— in blood lead tests for Flint children for the summer of 2014.  However, the charges allege that that report was buried, never forwarded by Peeler or others to appropriate health officials.

Peeler then joined with a different MDHHS employee, Robert Scott, the Data Manager for the Healthy Homes and Lead Prevention program, and created a second report, issued two days after the initial report.  The second report falsely indicated no statistically significant rise in blood lead levels of children in the summer of 2014.

Meanwhile, Corinne Miller, the then-Director of the Bureau of Epidemiology and State Epidemiologist, received the first report but instructed others not to take action, rebuffing other employees who asked about next steps of action. The charges allege that Miller later instructed another MDHHS employee to delete emails concerning the original blood lead data report from July 28, 2015.

The investigation also revealed that on day the first blood lead level report was created, July 28, 2015, there was communication between MDEQ Defendant Liane Shekter-Smith and MDHHS.  This was the same time that MDEQ defendants allegedly were manipulating lead water results to conceal unsafe lead levels.  Despite knowledge to the contrary, the investigation showed that Shekter-Smith allegedly told MDHHS that there were no lead issues with Flint’s drinking water.

Nancy Peeler, Director, Program for Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting
1 count, Misconduct in Office (Felony: 5 years and/or $10,000)

1 count, Conspiracy, (Felony, 5 years and/or $10,000)

1 count, Willful Neglect of Duty (Misdemeanor, 1 year and/or $1,000)

Robert Scott, Data Manager for the Healthy Homes and Lead Prevention program
1 count, Misconduct in Office (Felony: 5 years and/or $10,000)

1 count, Conspiracy, (Felony, 5 years and/or $10,000)

1 count, Willful Neglect of Duty (Misdemeanor, 1 year and/or $1,000)

Corinne Miller, Former Director of the Bureau of Epidemiology and State Epidemiologist
1 count, Misconduct in Office (Felony: 5 years and/or $10,000)

1 count, Conspiracy, (Felony, 5 years and/or $10,000)

1 count, Willful Neglect of Duty (Misdemeanor, 1 year and/or $1,000

The DEQ and MDHHS released a joint statement saying that based upon the filing of the charges, their departments would each be suspending two current employees (Rosenthal and Cook from the DEQ and Peeler and Scott from MDHHS) without pay until further review of the charges can be conducted. “The other two state employees charged are no longer with DEQ or MDHHS,” they said. “DEQ and MDHHS will continue to monitor the legal proceedings and evaluate next steps as appropriate.”

The first round of criminal charges from Schuette’s Flint Water Investigation were filed on April 20, 2016 against two Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) employees and one City of Flint employee.   Schuette’s second legal action took place on June 22, 2016, when he filed a civil suit against water infrastructure firms Veolia and Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam for their roles in the Flint water poisoning crisis. Schuette’s investigation remains ongoing and the charges filed today do not preclude additional charges at a later date.

“The victims are real people, families who have been lied to by government officials and been treated as expendable. But when our investigation is completed and our prosecutions are successful—and we believe they will be—then accountability and justice will be delivered to families of Flint and families of Michigan,” said Schuette.

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Three charged with felonies in Flint water crisis 


Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton joined Special Counsel Todd Flood and Chief Investigator Andy Arena in announcing charges. “Today’s charges are a beginning, not an end.” 

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced Wednesday, April 20, that he filed a total of 13 felony charges and 5 misdemeanor charges against two state officials and one city official as a result of their actions in the Flint water contamination crisis currently gripping the city.

“What happened here in Flint is a tragedy,” said Schuette, “and we will continue to investigate all information that comes our way. This is not something I take lightly.”

Charges were filed Wednesday morning in the Genesee County 67th District Court in Flint against the following three individuals:

Stephen Busch, 40, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality District 8 Water Supervisor (3 felonies, 2 misdemeanor);

Michael Prysby, 53, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality District 8 Water Engineer (4 felonies, 2 misdemeanor); and

Michael Glasgow, 40, City of Flint Laboratory and Water Quality Supervisor (1 felony, 1 misdemeanor).

“The justice system in Michigan is not rigged,” said Schuette. “Anyone that says Michigan has a wink and nod justice system is wrong. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you do, if you break the law there will be consequences.”

The maximum sentences for each of the felonies, which are summarized below, range from 4-5 years in prison, with fines for each in a range between $5,000-$10,000.

“So many things went so terribly wrong in Flint. I made a decision that I must investigate what went wrong. It is my job as Attorney General to protect the citizens of Michigan. The citizens of Flint deserve that, the citizens of Michigan deserve that. This investigation is ongoing, it is broad, detailed and comprehensive.”

The charges are the first announced as a result of Schuette’s investigation into the crisis, which is being conducted by Special Prosecutor Todd Flood, Chief Investigator Andy Arena, and Deputy Chief Investigator Ellis Stafford. Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton is also working with Schuette on the investigation and joined Schuette in Flint for Wednesday’s announcement.

“We are working closely together on this investigation because the people of Flint deserve nothing less than the truth and we will keep working until we get to the bottom of this,” said Leyton.

The charges against DEQ workers Busch and Prysby include:

Count 1 Common law offenses – Misconduct in office 

It is alleged that between February 2015 and November 2015, they committed misconduct in office, an indictable offense at common law, by willfully and knowingly misleading federal regulatory officials in the Environmental Protection Agency, including, but not limited to, Miguel Del Toral, and/or Genesee County Health Department officials, including, but not limited to, James Henry, in violation of his duty to provide clean and safe drinking water to the citizens of the County of Genesee, State of Michigan and to protect the public health; contrary to MCL 750.505. It is a felony punishable by 5 Years in prison and/or $10,000.00.

Count 3 Conspiracy – Tampering with evidence 

It is alleged that defendants on or about January 2015, through November 2015, defendants did unlawfully conspire, combine, confederate and agree together with persons, both known and unknown to the People of the State of Michigan, to commit an offense prohibited by law, to wit: Tampering with Evidence, including but not limited to manipulating monitoring reports mandated by law; contrary to MCL 750.157a. It is a felony punishable by up to 4 years in prison and/or $10,000.00.

Count 4– Tampering with evidence 

It is alleged that defendants did knowingly and intentionally remove, alter, conceal, destroy, or otherwise tamper with evidence, to wit: reports entitled “Lead and Copper Report and Consumer Notice of Lead Result” dated February 27, 2015 and/or July 28, 2015 and/or August 20, 2015; contrary to MCL 750.483a(6)(a). It is a felony punishable by 4 years in prison and/or $5,000.00.

Count 5– Treatment violation – Michigan safe drinking water act 

It is alleged that defendants did cease the utilization of optimal corrosion control treatment at the Flint Water Treatment Plant after the Plant switched to the Flint River as a water source and/or did refuse to mandate optimized corrosion control treatment at the Flint Water Treatment Plant in a timely manner after the lead action level was exceeded; contrary to MCL

325.1001. It is a misdemeanor punishable by 1 year and/or $5,000.00 for each day of violation.

Count 6 – Monitoring violation – Michigan safe drinking water act 

It is alleged that defendants did improperly manipulate the collection of water samples by directing residents to “pre-flush” their taps by

running the water for five minutes the night before drawing a water sample and/or did fail to collect required samples included in the Tier 1 category of serviced lines and/or did remove test results from samples to be included in the Lead and Copper Report and Consumer Notice of Lead Result; contrary to MCL 325.1001.  This is a misdemeanor punishable by 1 year and/or $5,000.00 for each day of violation.

Michael Prysby was also charged with:

Count 2 Common law offenses – Misconduct in office 

It is alleged that the defendant did, on or about April 4, 2014, commit misconduct in office, an indictable offense at common law, by authorizing a permit to the Flint Water Treatment Plant knowing the Flint Water Treatment Plant was deficient in its ability to provide clean and safe drinking water for the citizens of the County of Genesee, State of Michigan; contrary to MCL 750.505.  This a felony punishable by 5 years in prison and/or $10,000.00.

Charges against Flint water employee Michael Glasgow include:

Count 7 – Tampering with evidence 

It is alleged that defendant did knowingly and intentionally remove, alter, conceal, destroy, or otherwise tamper with evidence to be offered in an official proceeding, to wit: the report entitled “Lead and Copper Report and Consumer Notice of Lead Result” dated February 27, 2015 and/or July 28, 2015 and/or August 20, 2015; contrary to MCL 750.483a(6)(a). This is a felony punishable by 4 years and/or $5,000.00.

Count 8 – Willful neglect of duty 

It is alleged that defendant did willfully neglect to perform a duty enjoined upon him by the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act, to wit: by failing to perform the duties of an F-1 Certified Operator employed by the Flint Water Treatment Plant; contrary to MCL 750.478. This is a misdemeanor punishable by 1 year and/or $1,000.00.

Schuette noted the investigation remains fully active and that the charges filed do not preclude additional charges at a later date.

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