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School board hires new superintendent

red hawkBy Judy Reed

Associate Superintendent David Cairy received a standing ovation from 200 staff members, parents, and community members after his final interview Wednesday evening, but he didn’t get the votes from the Board of Education.

Instead, they voted 5-2 to hire Dr. Laura VanDuyne, a candidate from California, who has ties to the area and was looking to move back to Michigan. She has served as Executive Director of the State SELPA, Contra Costa Special Education Joint Powers Authority since 2010.

The decision angered and saddened many who were present for the interviews.

Trustees Shannon Vanderhyde and Jeff Gust were the two dissenting votes.

The board had the public fill out feedback forms after the interviews and turn them in, and the board sifted through them during recess. They then took a straw poll to see where they stood.

Vanderhyde said that she was saddened by the direction the board seemed to be moving in. She said that one of the comments on the feedback form stuck with her, that Laura would have a big learning curve. “I don’t want my three kids to have a big learning curve,” she said. “I want them to have the best of the best. With Dave, we can start tomorrow.”

Trustee Todd Hanson said he didn’t think there would be a huge learning curve, noting that staff would still be there doing a great job. “And if not, then maybe they are not as loyal as they say,” he remarked.

The remark brought a big boo from the crowd, and several people walked out.

Vanderhyde questioned why they bothered to get the feedback if they weren’t going to use it.

Trustee Joe Marckini said he must’ve gotten different feedback than Shannon, and that he was out talking to people. And if people didn’t like his decision, they could recall him.

Trustee Patricia Eary thought an outsider would bring a fresh perspective. President Brooke Nichols said she had a gut feeling about Van Duyne the first time she interviewed.

Those who voted for Van Duyne—President Brooke Nichols, Todd Hanson, Patricia Eary, Matt Shoffner, and Joe Marckini—all had good things to say about Cairy, but seemed to feel that Van Duyne had the skills to move the district forward.

Shoffner remarked that he felt the two of them working together—Van Duyne a global thinker and Cairy a detailed thinker—would make a good team.

After the official vote, the silence in the room was deafening. Trustee Shannon VanderHyde dissolved into tears.

Some members approached the board and thanked them for their work, while others left the room or talked quietly among themselves.

A committee will work on contract negotiations with Van Duyne, and then bring that back to the board for approval.



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9 Responses to “School board hires new superintendent”

  1. Joe says:

    This is what happens when agendas get in the way of comment sense. The board president acted inappropriately during last nights meetings as well. It was not the time for laughter or sarcasm.

    It is disappointing they chose to ignore the feedback that they sought. Shannon Vanderhyde nailed it. 1 of the trustee’s statements about the feedback they were getting was disengenuous because I am aware of calls he did receive. Todd Hanson’s comments are as offensive as they are misinformed and baseless. A learning curve from someone who has no idea about grants let alone has ZERO superintendent experience has nothing to do with people here helping her. That chasm already exists whether he can see it or not. We shouldnt be hiring someone needing ANY learning curve.

    Time for a recall.

  2. Ricky says:

    They found themselves a star. Hope they’re happy. And like every other out-of-town hired gun in education she’ll serve her few years and move on. And then maybe somebody from Manhattan will be looking to get back to Michigan.

  3. Courtney says:

    I applaud Shannon for her point about the learning curve. I also agree with her about the feedback- why ask for it if you don’t use it? It’s also too bad it seems that the board doesn’t see that the employees and community were in support of Cairy. School boards and teachers are there for the best interests of the kids. Did that happen?

  4. John P says:

    Nice that the board has no respect for their community nor te hard working people who educate our children. The good thing is we can all use our arms next board election and vote them out.

  5. Kelly says:

    A question that the board asked during the interviews was regarding transparency. I look forward to the post publishing the new superintendents contract and all associated benifits as a tax paying citizens we have right to know.

    In addition, I look forward to the post doing a story on how the board plans on making amends with the community and school staff. The above article displays a great divide.

    Finally, when does the community get to meet this individual as I feel this whole ordeal has been poorly communicated an the boards decsion was made a vail of secrecy!

  6. JT says:

    This is a growing trend in school boards. They are very removed and ill informed much less educated in the trends and changes in education. They look for a brand instead of what is best for the culture, climate, and educational progression for a community. I agree, who is leaving California to come back to Michigan. I would contend you are in for a difficult ride and the person hired is leaving a mess behind. No one makes that big of a move without running from something! Good Luck Cedar – You deserved better from your board!

  7. Annie says:

    I am excited to see what Dr. VanDuyne can do for our school system, specifically the current special education programs we offer. I was excited to see someone on the list of candidates with experience in special education. I would love to see an AI program put in place for Cedar Springs students which we desperately need! Change is tough, especially when it involves our kids and someone we don’t know. Even though it’s hard, please try to be supportive and positive.

  8. Kelly says:

    Has anyone inquired about the law suit in California
    What did she not mention that in her interviews?

  9. Adam L says:

    You people are so misinformed… get over yourselves.

    If you are so worried about your kids, start paying attention to what they’re up to! Because, if you look inside your own family, you may find a FAR bigger problem than who has a job in the school system… and therein lies your solution. (true?)

    I think the new person will bring a completely new perspective and experience. One that could never be achieved by narrow minds.

    ..but this was never about the children now, was it? It’s really about change and the communities inability to accept it. Feel the sting?




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